Scoring Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Here’s a behind the scenes look at composer Bear McCreary‘s score for Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, a web mini-series based in the BSG universe.

McCreary’s score is a continuation of the musical ideas from his scores to Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, but it has an increased emphasis on synthesized sounds. McCreary explains his approach:

Synthesizers have been a staple of the science fiction genre since it first graced celluloid. The most famous example is probably Louis and Bebe Barron’s iconic score for Forbidden Planet. Many other composers, from Herrmann to Goldsmith, and even John Williams, have used synthesizers to depict alien soundscapes.

But, synths can be a deadly trap for composers and filmmakers.  Because the technology develops rapidly, synth scores generally do not age well.  There are many great science fiction films whose place in history is threatened by a score that grows campier with every passing day.

In 2004, I avoided using synthesized sounds in “BSG” as a direct reaction to these pitfalls.  The heavy, dramatic tone of that series would have been undercut by synthetic sounds.  “Blood & Chrome,” however, is a different animal – it’s simply more fun.  The emphasis on action and occasional comedy one-liners gave me license to introduce synthetic sounds to energize the acoustic instrumentation of the “BSG” score.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the various BSG series, McCreary offers an interesting look at modern cinematic orchestration.

The tracks will be available March 12, 2013 on the limited edition soundtrack album from La-La Land Records. For a detailed breakdown of the Blood & Chrome score, check out McCreary’s blog.


18 thoughts on “Scoring Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

  1. Oh yeah. You can not se guitars because they sund like crap ext year? You can not use a Minimoog D because it’s sound s obsolete next year? I like his BSG score but his 2c about synths are bs. Are Jan Hammers iconic synth pieces outdated now? I don’t think so.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

    • Listen to the man, he talks about the programming. He probably doesn’t care one bit what the synth in question so long as he gets the sound he wants for a score. And to be fair: A lot of, if not all, of the oldies goldies of synth music sound somewhat dated by now. That does not mean that they do sound less pleasing than when they first appeared. Maybe their allure might even have increased with the years. You just hear if something is supposed to be 70s Berlin school type stuff or a face melting prog rock solo. It can be cheesy, it’s certainly dated, but I often like it nonetheless. Dated is not always bad. And compared to a symphonic orchestra or a piano just about every pop instrument sounds dated.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    • Even though I’m a synth fan, I gotta agree with McCreary – there are tons of soundtracks where the synths were used in cheesy ways.

      Listen to the soundtrack for The Princess Bride sometime and tell me it isn’t dated by the way it uses synths.

      For every timeless electronic score, like Wendy Carlos’ A Clockwork Orange or Vangelis’ Blade Runner, there are a dozen cheesy scores where synths were used to save money, rather than to be a creative tool for sound design.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      • The princess bride was a sartire. No wonder it’s cheese. There are so many cheese pieces for orchestra out there. Why do we have this discussion. Music never gets old, just hip or unhip.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        • It’s because musicians tend to get seduced by the bells and whistles of new gadgets.

          One of the reasons Vangelis’s scores have aged so well is that he didn’t go the synth of the month route. He went for the most expressive synths, and then mixed them with traditional instruments and voices.

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  2. That kind of ax hero guitar in an orchestral score always screams to me: “Low budget, no ideas!” It’s the stock “add testosterone” solution. I associate it with bad 90′s action series and no-name tv-movies so it’s a shame to hear on a fairly ambitious soundtrack. I don’t see any need to “bridge” synth and acoustic elements, contrast is good and it’s not like the general populace is foreign to electronic instruments. I grew up with metal and still love it, but this just feels cheap. I do understand it probably doesn’t bother many people and the player is proficient.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

    • “That kind of ax hero guitar in an orchestral score always screams to me: “Low budget, no ideas!” It’s the stock “add testosterone” solution. I associate it with bad 90?s action series and no-name tv-movies so it’s a shame to hear on a fairly ambitious soundtrack.”

      Could not agree with the above statement more….it just cheapens the score.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. Synths grow old? like all that crappy music in Bladerunner, what’s his face Vangelis?
    Guitars suck? You mean like, Morricone-suck?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. Synthesizers are not named so because they are “synthetic”.
    Guy sounds like a wally to me- on that front at least.

    Also, music, cinema, just art in general, is at it’s most culturally important when it IS dateable, and is synonimous with the particular period in which it is created.

    Of course if you’re going for generic, well, Do as Thou Wilt..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    • Glad to know there are those out there who can say exactly what is most culturally important(you). This is a guy(bear) stating his opinion while talking about his art…. Which I personally thing is very good. Where is your culturally important work(Edwig)?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  5. “That kind of ax hero guitar in an orchestral score always screams to me: “Low budget, no ideas!” It’s the stock “add testosterone” solution. I associate it with bad 90?s action series and no-name tv-movies so it’s a shame to hear on a fairly ambitious soundtrack.”

    Could not agree with you more. Well said!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. Thanks for posting this! I loved what Bear McCreary made for the Battlestar Galactica TV-series. Really nice to see him and his musician at work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. There is a reason this guy is doing music for the most popular show on TV, The Walking Dead. He was amazing on BSG. The commentators who are critical of him are being ignorant to the fact that this film is a prequel taking place roughly 40 years before the series he scored originally. So his use of synthesizers and guitars are meant to be reminiscent to the 70s & 80s where the original series began. “Low budget, no ideas! Add testosterone?” You sound like an idiot. Bear is the cream of the crop of the young composers in Hollywood & I would like to see who you think is better

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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