My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

David Lynch presents a Werner Herzog film


The first notes…dispelled all doubts. This is real music. Equipped with its own autonomy…Inspired by authentic beauty.”

All About Jazz, Italy

The music score of My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done was written for a large ensemble of five cellos, two voices, piano, accordion and percussion. Reijseger invited an exciting combination of wonderful instrumentalists to the recording session. The lyricism between Fraanje and Biondini is especially beautiful, as is the inventive percussion playing by Alan Purves. The voices of the Senegalese Mola Sylla and the Indian Sandip Bhattacharya bring a rich palette to the music.

The score is mostly written out, but partly created on the spot- a combination of Reijseger’s assignments and improvisations by the musicians.

Reijseger: “I took risks for this recording session, putting people from so many different musical backgrounds together, hoping for all of them to shine.”

All the sound effects were created acoustically, by preparing the string instruments, and the use of whirly tubes and beautiful toys. The music score was recorded without overdubs or special effects in a church with a wooden interior, providing wonderful acoustics with definition and reflections. The music was recorded in 5.1

In film, most of the time music is post-production. Not in de the case of Herzog and Reijseger.

Prior to the recording session, Reijseger read the film script and met in Amsterdam with Herb Golder, co-writer of My Son My Son, classicist and good friend of Werner Herzog, who introduced Herzog to the story.

Afterwards, Reijseger flew to Los Angeles to meet the crew on the film set of My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done in San Diego. In those weeks, Reijseger was involved on three locations, where he played live at the film set during the shoot. In one of them, he became part of the film, underscoring a theatre scene.

Reijseger returned home to compose the score. Herzog, in the meantime, sent him raw footage for inspiration. Eventually Herzog came to the Netherlands to attend the recording session of the film score.

Meanwhile, Werner Herzog chose two Mexican Corridos by Chavela Vargas for the beginning and the end of the soundtrack, as well as the old gospel I Am Born to Preach the Gospel by Washington Phillips.

Herzog sees the film as “a horror film without the blood, chainsaws and gore, but with a strange, anonymous fear creeping up in you”.

David Lynch and Werner Herzog decided to collaborate on the drama “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done” with Herzog as director and Lynch as executive producer.

Based on a true story of a man who murdered his mother, Werner Herzog uses flashbacks to describe their bizarre relationship. The film stars Michael Shannon as Brad McCullam, Willem Dafoe as detective Hank Havenhurst, Michael Peña as detective Vargas, Chloë Sevigny as Brad’s girlfriend Ingrid, Udo Kier as the theatre director Lee Meyers, and Grace Zabriskie as Mrs McCullam, Brad’s mother.

The main character, Brad McCullam is a mentally unstable man who slays his mother with a sword. A tragic incident in which his friends drown in wild water rapids leads to his strange behaviour. He becomes obsessed with a Greek theatre play he is starring in, starts hearing God’s voice and believes he has to sacrifice his mother. After the murder, the rumour spreads Brad has taken two hostages, called McDougal and McNamara, causing a swat-team to arrive on the scene. He calls the hostages ‘eagles in drag’. They turn out to be two flamingos.