How Black Panther 2 Composer Recreated Lost Mayan Music For Talokan

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Exclusive: Black Panther 2 composer Ludwig Göransson explains his extensive research process to create Mayan-inspired music for the MCU’s Talokan.

Composer Ludwig Göransson breaks down the intensive research process he went through to create a score based on what Mayan music could have sounded like for Black Panther 2. While preparing for the first Black Panther, Göransson traveled to Africa to research different instruments and sounds. Goransson has created a truly unique musical identity for Wakanda, balancing the traditional superhero style with a score that draws clear inspiration from authentic African music. Thanks to this, the musical identity of Black Panther and Wakanda has become some of the most recognizable in the MCU.


In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Göransson has a whole new corner of the MCU to play in as he brings Talokan to life musically. During an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Göransson talked about finding the sound for Namor and the underwater kingdom of Talokan. The composer revealed the influence of Mayan culture and his journey to discovering what Mayan music would sound like, including the heartbreaking truth about what happened to Mayan music many centuries ago.

[When] coming up with the sound for Namor and the Talokans, it’s a completely new world, and we’re spending a lot of time with them. We spend a lot of time seeing their world for the first time. When I read the script, I talked to Ryan, and he told me that the story and people are very heavily inspired by Mayan culture. That was extremely inspiring for me because I was able to travel to Mexico and to Mesoamerica and start working.

I wanted to record Mayan music, but I quickly realized that that music is gone. It was forcibly erased 500 years ago; there’s no traces. They don’t know how the music was performed; there’s no sheet music. There’s no musicians from generation to generation. It’s gone.

So, I started working with some music archeologists in Mexico City that specialize in recreating some of the instruments. They found some of the instruments in some of the graves. They’ve seen the codex, they see what type of instruments they’re [using], like seashells and turtle shells. We started recording and re-imagining what the Mayans’ sound could have been like, so that was the interesting part of [making] the music for Namor.

Related: How Powerful Is Namor Compared To Thanos?

Black Panther: Wakanda’s Music Sheds Light On Mayan Culture

Göansson’s commitment to thorough research has been a major part of his ability to compose such impactful scores. The discovery that he was unable to find or hear any truly authentic Mayan music because all the records were destroyed is a tragedy. Göransson’s work with music-based archeologists is fascinating as they worked together to recreate what the music in Ancient Maya could have sounded like.

This destruction of history and art may have influenced the music and potentially the story itself, however. With Coogler taking inspiration from Indigenous Central and South America when creating Talokan, the history of colonization is likely ingrained in the fictional nation’s DNA. This estimation of what Mayan music sounds like also brings a new layer to Göransson’s score, as he found instruments that were likely used but had to fully re-imagine what the music could be. The inclusion of seashells and turtle shells works twofold by using authentic instruments and incorporating the underwater element of Talokan into the score itself.

Talokan is a nation hidden from the surface world in the MCU, with Namor leading his people and protecting them in part through isolation. Musically, Wakanda is a nation that was never colonized, while Talokan’s history is a bit murkier. Wakanda and Talokan mirror each other in many compelling ways, including isolating themselves to protect their resources and way of life. Whether the nation’s isolation is because it avoided colonization altogether or because the country was targeted in the past, infusing lost music into the theme of a hidden city brings a new depth to the score of Black Panther 2.

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