Mark Snow
Mark Snow

Mark Snow

About Mark Snow

A screen composer best known for his spooky theme to The X-Files, Mark Snow combines percussive, orchestral, and otherworldly synthesizer timbres -- for example, the whistling-synth tune from the sci-fi theme -- in his typically distinctive original scores. While he has provided the music for dozens of television and film projects since establishing himself on shows like Starsky and Hutch and Hart to Hart in the 1970s, it was The X-Files in 1993 and subsequent sci-fi/fantasy series, including X-Files creator Chris Carter's Millennium (1996-1999) and DC Comics' Smallville (2001-2007) that dominate his recording legacy. He began a long run with the CBS crime-drama Bloods Bloods in 2010, meanwhile returning for a revived The X-Files starting with its tenth season in 2016.
Snow was born in Brooklyn, the son of a professional percussionist and a kindergarten teacher with a particular affection for blues piano. As a youth, Snow learned piano and drums, then fell in love with the oboe. An aficionado of Baroque and Renaissance music, Snow entered the New York Music and Art School, where he befriended composer Michael Kamen, another oboe fan, who would become his roommate for several years at Juilliard. Studying as broad a variety of music as possible, Snow gradually became fascinated with contemporary popular music, going on to form the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble with Kamen in 1968, which signed almost immediately with Atco. The band was noted for its mix of rock and classical elements and attention-getting live shows. The band dissolved after five albums for Atco and Columbia.
Snow then took the advice of his wife, Glynn (sister of actors Tyne Daly and Tim Daly), and moved to California. He very quickly found work in television, scoring shows and pilots for Aaron Spelling, beginning with 1975's The Rookies, for which he scored individual episodes. A prolific composer, Snow was much in demand for both television series work and for TV movies, with an impressive list of credits that included everything from Hart to Hart (1979-1984) to episodes of Falcon Crest and Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1989-1990).
In 1993, Snow was tapped by producer Chris Carter to provide music for The X-Files, a risky horror/science fiction series debuting on the young Fox network. After several attempts at a piece of title music yielded only frustration, Snow played a few arpeggios through an echo device, drawing a positive response from Carter. An eerie melodic line quickly materialized, but it took Snow some time to figure out the right voice for it. In an inspired move, the composer had his wife, Glynn, whistle the melody, which he then sampled and doubled with the "Whistling Joe" patch from an Ensoniq Proteus synthesizer module. The resulting piece of music, received with great uncertainty at Fox, quickly became one of the key features of the new show. Several versions of the music would be generated for album release, including a popular extended version found on Songs in the Key of X. The theme song went all the way to number two on the singles charts in the U.K. and France in 1996. Warner Bros. eventually released The Truth and the Light, which mixed Snow's music with dialogue from the series. As prolific as ever, he went on to score Carter's Millennium series while maintaining his pace on The X-Files and providing music for several other series, TV movies, and low-budget features. In 1999, Sonic Images released the compilation The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow, and The X-Files ended its original nine-season run in 2002.
The new millennium brought continued TV work for Snow, including the X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen (2001), episodes of the long-running drama One Tree Hill, and several years of contributing to the Clark Kent series Smallville (2001-2007) and The Ghost Whisperer (2005-2010). He scored the X-Files feature film The X-Files: I Want to Believe, which appeared in theaters in 2008, and he became the main composer for the police drama series Blue Bloods beginning in 2010. During its run, he reunited with familiar colleagues for new episodes of The X-Files that aired in 2016. With Snow on-board, the show returned for its 11th season in 2018. ~ Steven McDonald & Marcy Donelson

  • HOMETOWN
    Brooklyn, NY
  • BORN
    August 26, 1946

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