Sources:Interview with Bear McCreary, November 21, 2003
"A Battlestar Opus"
Battlestar Galactica 2003: In the original Battlestar Galactica, the score done by Stu Phillips is considered by many fans of Battlestar Galactica one of the strongest aspects of the original Battlestar Galactica. Did you listen to the original score prior to composing music for Battlestar Galactica?
Bear McCreary: While I am aware of the main theme for the original Battlestar Galactica, neither Richard nor I spent much time researching the scoring style and technique used in the original show. Our goal was to take the score in a new direction, veering away from standard film scoring models. Rather than distorting the musical soundscape of the original show, we wanted to create a new one that exists entirely on its own merit.
BG2003: Can you describe the process that Richard Gibbs and you went through to score Battlestar Galactica?
BM: Our process was a very collaborative one. Richard, Michael Rymer and I got together frequently to work on the music. Many of the more percussive cues featured improvised Japanese and Chinese percussion, in the style of Kodo Drumming. In those cases, composers and percussionists worked closely together to create the rhythmic "motors" that would become the backbone of an action cue.
BG2003: Do you feel that the score that Richard Gibbs and you put together will be as memorable as the original?
BM: The score will be every bit as effective and dramatic. I also think it will be very memorable, but in a strikingly different way. Richard’s thematic elements are much simpler, buried in dark orchestral and heavy percussive colors. Our approach was to avoid heavy statements of a "Main Theme" in the brass, as is used in the original show and other science fiction epics. The score is much more subtle and psychological than music typically found in science fiction television.
BG2003: Did Richard Gibbs and you find a place to use the original Battlestar Galactica theme or an interpretation of the original theme?
BM: Oh yeah!
BG2003: What composers do you feel influenced your work on Battlestar Galactica?
BM: Much of the score was influenced by traditional Taiko Drumming (which was "temped" into the film when it was first given to us!).
BG2003: As one of the composers, did you feel that you had a lot of creative freedom in scoring the film?
BM: Richard and I were given artistic license, but we also wanted to stay true to the director’s vision. He feels very strongly about creating a science fiction show unlike anything ever been seen. He takes his material very seriously and, following his example, we scored the picture like a dark drama.
BG2003: Was there an aspect of Battlestar Galactica that made it a challenge to score?
BM: As Richard worked out the primary themes, we both found it was difficult to introduce the themes and still adhere to the concept of non-traditional scoring. In the end, Richard and Michael found a wonderful balance.
BG2003: Is there a particular piece in the score you feel will stand out as memorable?
BM: I am particularly proud of the cue for Adama’s "Call to Arms" speech. The live orchestra and Middle-Eastern vocals are very moving.
BG2003: What kind of impression are Richard Gibbs and you trying to make to audience in this score?
BM: Richard and I are trying to make Battlestar Galactica feel "real" as much as possible. We don’t want to beat anyone over the head with over-dramatic music. We tried to be subtle, because the visual content in the film is so striking.
BG2003: Has any of the score been heard in the trailers that the Sci Fi Channel has played thus far?
BG2003: Was the score complete by the time the Sci Fi Channel began distributing the DVD screener for reviewers? If not, when did Richard Gibbs and you complete the score?
BM: The score was not complete, but many cues were already present in the DVD screener. These cues were rough and incomplete mixes, with synthesized orchestra (we did not record the live orchestra until very recently). Final mixes on the score were dubbed into the film in mid-November.
BG2003: Do you plan to stay on scoring music for Battlestar Galactica if it goes to series?
BM: We’ll see what happens. I would love to be involved in future installments of the series.
BG2003: Are there plans for the score to go to CD?
BM: I haven’t heard anything yet, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.
BG2003: How do you feel that the score is equal or better than previous film scores you have worked on?
BM: I have always loved science fiction, and have absorbed the TV shows, comics and movies for as long as I can remember. These are the kinds of movies that made me start writing film music in the first place. So for me, this score stands out from my other work because it was my first chance to work in the genre. This is the kind of project that makes scoring films so much fun!
BG2003: Thank you for your time, and we here at Battlestar Galactica 2003 wish you continued success in your career.
BM: Thank you. Good luck with the website!