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Bear McCreary Interview, Season 2 Soundtrack

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    Bear McCreary Interview, Season 2 Soundtrack

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    Wenn man schon andere Interviews gelesen hat, ist ein Teil Wiederholung, aber am Ende geht es auch um den Season 2 Soundtrack

    Robin: Could you start out by telling us how you got started as a composer?
    Bear: Well, my interest in music goes back to when I was a kid. I was really into movies as a kid. I was probably ten years old when I would go to the movies with friends, and after it was over, I was like, "Did you hear the music in that scene? Did you hear the music in that scene?" And they wouldn't know what I was talking about; they wouldn't even notice.

    So I took piano lessons for about fifteen years growing up. Then after high school, I tried to take my interest in movie music and merge that with some of the interests of my friends, as a band. That's how I got started composing and I've been doing it ever since.

    So your only professional training is in piano?
    No, piano was only part of my training. I went to USC -- and I'm still upset about last week's Rose Bowl -- and I got a degree in Composition and I also got a degree in Music Recording.

    How did you get the call for Battlestar Galactica?
    I was working with Richard Gibbs, the composer of the miniseries. We were under a serious time crunch to get the music written. It was the equivalent of scoring a four-hour movie in like, a month. So I was helping Richard to write a lot of the cues. Richard was developing a lot of thematic material, while I was focusing on the drums and percussion and those more atmospheric elements. It was really Richard's work much more than it was mine, but if you look in the credits, you'll find my name there under "additional music."
    So when the miniseries was a hit and we got the greenlight for the show, Richard wasn't available to do it. He did a couple of episodes -- he did "Water" and "Bastille" Day" -- but he's a feature film composer, so he left. I was the ideal choice to take over. The first episode I did turned out to be the very first episode of Season One that aired, "33." And I've been onboard ever since.

    And the rest is history.

    Take us through what a typical episode cycle looks like for you, from start to finish.
    Oh, Robin, I wish I could! (Laughs.) There is no typical episode of this show!

    (Laughs.) In a nutshell, then
    The producers, the writers, and the actors are constantly growing, in regards to what they've learned, what the show needs. Over time, I've gotten pretty good at predicting what works best, musically, in any given episode. Now that I say that, the next few episodes may prove me wrong! But in general, from start to finish, it takes me about ten to twenty days to do a show. That doesn't mean I can only do one show at a time on that schedule; the shows always overlap. Right now, I'm working on two or three. That's pretty typical. It's really tough on me because I haven't adjusted -- I haven't gotten to the place where I feel like I have a solid handle on this thing, you know what I mean? In a lot of tv shows, you're using the same palette that you paint from, week to week, using a lot of the same themes over and over. With our show, it's different almost every single week. Musically, each episode is almost a big movie adventure all by itself, in a way.

    And it's pretty music-heavy, right? There aren't a lot of moments in the show where there's no music playing...
    I think it's very music heavy. The average hour-long show on tv has anywhere from twelve to eighteen minutes of music. Our show, I've had episodes that run anywhere from twenty-five to thirty minutes of music. But it's very subtle; it doesn't feel like it's a lot of music. Because a lot of the time, the music is part of the atmosphere, part of the texture of the scene. It doesn't necessarily come at you in a big way.

    Absolutely. One of my favorite "musical moments" on the show was the two-part episode this season [Season Two] where the fleet has been fractured and Adama is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that the Galactica needs its "family" back together again. And he's walking down one of the hallways on the ship and suddenly he stops and the music shifts to the Gaelic father/son theme that was first introduced in Season One. And Edward James Olmos has to do almost no acting in that scene because we instantly know exactly what he's thinking, just from the music.
    That's one of my favorites, too. The scene was written that way -- for the music to become another character on the screen. If you take the music out of that scene, you would feel its absence. Usually, we don't come across that strong with the music, but we all decided that this was a major moment that we needed to communicate. We were constantly thinking about all of these different kinds of thematic ideas for that scene. Because in most scenes, the music doesn't need to communicate quite as much, but in that scene, the music had a lot to do. It had to tell you what Adama was thinking, because there was no visual cue that conveyed it.
    As we go along, I'm finding a lot of moments like that. I get to really mix things up creatively, emotionally. I feel like my job is to help the story move forward in a tangible way.

    The last thing [before the Christmas break] to air was the episode "Pegasus," and it introduced some music like we hadn't heard before. It made me wonder how that stuff gets started. Do the producers warn you ahead of time that there's going to be something radically different coming up, or do you read it in the script, or what?
    I don't read the scripts. And the main reason I don't is that I'm such a huge fan of the show that I don't like to have it spoiled for me. I try not to write music for anything I haven't seen yet, although there are times when I have to break that rule. But mostly I like to see it and feel it for myself.
    As far as "Pegasus" goes... Whenever I create new music, I want to make a texture for the culture of what's being depicted on the screen. Usually, if it's going to go that far afield, and that far away from the norm, I usually get an idea of that ahead of time. In this case, it was the director, Michael Rymer, who directed the miniseries, "33," "Kobol's Last Gleaming," and "Scattered," the Season Two opener. He has a strong ear for music and he's very aware of what music can do. He's got a lot of ideas about pushing the boundaries, and he really wanted to push this in a new direction. The music for "Pegasus" was much more bold than anything I would have done on my own.
    It's a pivotal episode, it's not just "business as usual." Michael really wanted it to feel different. He wanted it to be clear to the viewer that this is not just us moving on to the next episode. This is the beginning of something really different, the beginning of something really important.
    "Kobol's Last Gleaming" was the beginning of a six or seven episode arc. "Pegasus" is kind of the same thing. The music is always going to change and evolve on this show. When it's this radically different, it's to cue you into the fact that this is the start of something unique. I really admire and respect the producers and the writers for constantly evolving the show and being gutsy enough to let the music evolve with it. You can get bored really easily, as a composer. I've written nine hours of music for this show in the past year, and I feel like I'm still trying different things. I still get to mess around and twist the instruments and put things in unexpected places.
    You never know where you're going to end up or where the show's going to go. But it's my job to make sure that nothing gets too out of place. We've created a Battlestar "language," and I'm finding it easier and easier to dip into the musical universe we've created.

    Yeah, listening to the Season One soundtrack, you go from middle eastern influences to muzak to opera to this beautiful orchestral piece on "The Shape of Things to Come"... I can see how it keeps you hopping. Why did they decide to go this radically different with the music for this show? It doesn't sound like anything we've heard in science fiction before.
    In the beginning, it was Ron Moore, David Eick, and Michael Rymer. The two executive producers and the director of the miniseries. They came up with the notion of making the series different in its nature. Obviously, one avenue they could really drive this home with was the music. The original Galactica's music was very orchestrated and very iconic. It was really an anthem -- the theme music that Stu Phillips wrote. But it also ushered you into this traditional science fiction universe. It was intentionally evocative of Star Wars and Star Trek.

    So when designing the new show, in keeping with the diversity on the ship, in keeping with the character names, in keeping with the varied storylines, they decided to go against the grain with the music. At the time, it was a gamble. But it worked really well. I think they'll continue pushing the boundaries in new directions. I continue to be regularly surprised at how far they push the music. I usually tend to err on the conservative side of things, but Michael Ryder and the producers are always encouraging me to try new and different things.
    And I think that philosophy can be seen in all aspects of the show. The writing has changed drastically since the early part of the first season, and so have the characters. To see Adama go from this very stoic character to this damaged person who can't always hold things in check anymore. I think we've hit our stride, creatively. Everything just works.
    I do think that a lot of that comes from a deep-seated desire to not be like traditional science fiction. Many of the decisions about the show are mitigated directly from that.

    I don't want any spoilers 'cause I don't like to be spoiled either, but what episode are you working on right now?
    I am about to dive into episode fifteen. The break was at ten, so I've finished eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. The irony is that we just went on the air last Friday with the first of a two-part episode -- the second half of which was only done this Monday! The first half aired before the second half was finished. Most of the effects are done and the music is all written, but we're in a race to the finish on that one.
    I can tell you this much: the second half of this season is stronger than the first half. I've been really enjoying the episodes that I've seen. In particular, the resolution to the "Pegasus" storyline is really cool.

    I guess you pretty much live in the studio, huh?
    Basically, yeah. My times do fluctuate. I have a couple of breaks in a season, when the crew goes on break or in between seasons. So it's not that bad.

    Do you have any other musical interests or avenues?
    I do. I've just started a band. My band is called Seventeen Billion Miles of DNA. I'm the accordion player. It's going to be some weird jazz and rock & roll stuff. Should be great fun. I have a few other personal projects I'm working on.

    Soundtrack Teil ab hier

    Are there plans for a Season Two soundtrack?
    Definitely. Will be coming out in late spring or early summer, I would guess. Lately I've been going through and deciding what cues will end up on the soundtrack. It's going to be harder this time. The last one, it was pretty obvious what the soundtrack cues were. This time, I feel like I've written enough really good cues to have two soundtracks. It's going to be tough.

    Yeah, I'm thinking about that, actually. That may be what ends up happening. We may do a bigger collection at the end of the year or early next year or something. We've talked about doing an extra disc, sold separately, of material that hasn't made it onto any soundtrack. As happy as I am with the Season One soundtrack, I actually had to give up some really good stuff that there wasn't room for on there, so we might put together an "extras" disc that fills in the blanks.

    The b-sides.
    Exactly, that sort of thing.

    Battlestar's music is very diverse and ethnic. What inspires you when you're writing? Do you let the images on the screen speak to you, or do you specifically draw from various kinds of cultural music?
    The cultural side of it is more like the toolbox. It's the shades of paint that I use to create the mood that I want. Woodwinds, to me, are very haunting, very emotional and dramatic instruments. The Japanese and African drums that we use are great for the action sequences. These are the tools I use to create.
    The inspiration comes from what I feel while watching this show. At this point, I'm so familiar with these characters and so familiar with this music that I can sit and watch an episode and almost download the music right out of my head, as it's playing. I have to write it, record it, and mix it, but I hear it when I see the episodes. I'll be watching a scene and go, "Oh, I know exactly what that music is going to be!" As long as the show continues to be as good as it is, I think it will continue to inspire me.

    Now that the show is such a big hit, I'm wondering if that's made you more in-demand.
    It's certainly raised my profile a bit. But right now, I'm not interested in pursuing anything that would detract from my work on Battlestar. On a personal note, it's awesome to have literally gotten a job like this right out of school. It's the kind of show that I like to watch. It's the kind of show that inspired me when I was a kid. Science fiction is the reason that I got into this business in the first place, so to be able to contribute back to this genre that means so much to me is the coolest thing in the world.

    Das beste wäre natürlich eine Doppel CD. Die zweite Staffel hat schon in der ersten Hälfte viele sehr gute Stücke, die ich auf einem Soundtrack möchte
    Für eine zusätzliche CD müsste man mehr bezahlen, aber das ist immer noch besser als nichts

    Ich liebe die Musik in BSG. Bei weitem der beste Soundtrack, den es zur Zeit im Fernsehen gibt.
    Und im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Soundtracks - und zum Teil auch der Mini-Serie - sehr gut zum anhören geeignet

    Auch gut zu hören, dass die Produzenten ihm zu experimentieren anregen, und ihn dazu drängen weiter zu gehen als er selbst würde. Wie in Pegasus
    "Bright, shiny futures are overrated anyway" - Lee Adama, Scar
    Throughout history the nexus between man and machine has spun some of the most dramatic, compelling and entertaining fiction." - The Hybrid, The Passage