Aside from Breaking Bad's opening theme, you might not remember much music from the series. But often enough, that's exactly by design of the show's composer, Dave Porter. In a conversation with Rolling Stone (which you'll only want to read if you're fully caught up on the series), Porter explains the thinking behind eight of his compositions, including some of his favorites, and some that were just tough to write. "Film and TV music is often about trying to say as much as you can with very little," Porter says.
"Because the story is constantly evolving, so is the music."
But that's hardly meant that Porter has kept the show's scores toned down. "One of the greatest things about working on Breaking Bad is that because the story is constantly evolving, so is the music," he tells Rolling Stone. In particular, he says that he's been able to make bolder choices as the series has heated up toward its conclusion, with some pieces written with the "intention of having them feel a bit unexpected and off-kilter."
Porter also explains that a lot of the show's themes have embraced its Western roots — roots that come from both its setting and genre. He says that series creator Vince Gilligan describes the show as having aspects of a "post-modern Western," and that many of Breaking Bad's best moments have included "a kernel of classic Western" sound to them. That even factored into the show's opening theme, which he says was always meant to echo Walt's transformation from a simple teacher into a hardened criminal. Porter also explains what he thought of the theme's surprising use in the series' penultimate episode over at Rolling Stone, which has clips of many of his compositions as well.