Moonlight was a favorite of the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony taking home the award for Best Picture. Other wins for the film included Mahershala Ali taking home the trophy for Best Supporting Actor.
Moonlight‘s director, Barry Jenkins, also shared a Best Adapted Screenplay trophy with cowriter Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the play on which the film was based. The pair’s script calls for a particular sound:
“… on the stereo, the same song bridged from the previous scene, something old school but slowed (like Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together) chopped and screwed.”
“Noise and fuzz in here, quads and subs as Black blasts something bass-heavy yet moving, think Erykah Badu Chopped and Screwed.”
“Chopped and screwed” is a remix technique first pioneered in the Houston hip-hop scene of the early 1990s. Its style, also sometimes called “codeine effect,” favors slowed-down beats, moments of “stopped time,” and beat skipping.
The mix puts soundtrack highlights like Goodie Mob’s “Cell Therapy” and Aretha Franklin’s “One Step Ahead” in slow-motion, and adds in related tracks like Kendrick’s “Alright” for good measure. Listen to Purple Moonlight below:
For each chapter of the film, composter Nicholas Britell created a theme. As he explained in his Song Exploder podcast, he and director Barry Jenkins utilized the chopped and screwed technique to create three different themes from the same piece of classical music for the score.
Britell also recently told MTV that “one of the great things that happens when you screw a track and pitch it down, it opens up all these new harmonics and textures that were almost hidden inside the audio before…The sound becomes a feeling.”