Sean Bean and Nicola Walker have made an impact as long-time married couple Ian and Emma in the BBC drama marriage, but it’s not just the acting in the series which has turned heads, so has its music.


Written by Stefan Golaszewski (Him and Her), Marriage shines a light on a suburban couple some three decades into their union. The drama rarely gets the pulse racing, but the naturalistic performances have won it many fans, as has its choice of music, by American composer Caroline Shaw.

The series doesn’t feature original music, instead the show utilises the first movement (Allemande) of Shaw’s brilliantly postmodern Partita for 8 Voices. The larger work begins as a rather disarming a cappella work featuring male and female vocals singing largely wordless lines, interspersed with spoken descriptive mathematical text. Later it takes on more of a dizzying, mesmeric and strangely beautiful quality.

It's a bold choice for the show, but one which stands out brilliantly and adds a huge amount to the show’s character.

Shaw is no stranger to screen music, having composed some original scores for short and feature films, plus episodes of Mozart in the Jungle. Movements from the Partita itself have also been featured on screen before, notably in the film Madeline’s Madeline (2018) and the documentary film Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (2019).

Where can I watch Marriage?

All episodes of Marriage are available to stream now on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Is there a soundtrack album release for Marriage?

There isn’t a soundtrack release connected with the series, but Caroline Shaw’s music was recorded by Roomful of Teeth in 2013 and released by New Amsterdam Records. It is available to buy, stream and download from all the usual places.


Main image by BBC/Rory Mulvey.


Michael BeekReviews Editor, BBC Music Magazine

Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.