'Battlestar Galactica': Beyond Background Music
Insurgency, religious fanaticism, technology run amok: a few of the themes explored in Battlestar Galactica, the science-fiction TV series about a civilization running for its life from human-like robots. The series has been honored with a Peabody, as well as awards for acting, visual effects and sound design. But its unsung character has been its music — until now.
Bear McCreary composes the scores for Battlestar Galactica. He's conducting a series of summer concerts featuring the show's music — and the performances are selling out.
"It's still dawning on me how many people out there are passionate about the music," he says.
McCreary recently visited the NPR West studios to discuss his compositions with host Guy Raz. He says he draws inspiration from Asian and Middle Eastern music, but he's also influenced by the orchestral traditions of the Western canon.
His compositions bear little resemblance to the sounds typically associated with science-fiction programs. According to McCreary, the show's producers wanted to distance the series from the "orchestral bombast" of movies such as the Star Wars films.
McCreary says Battlestar Galactica differs from other shows in part because its producers encouraged him to keep changing the score.
"That was an extremely exciting creative prospect to me, because it allowed me to evolve as an artist," he says.
McCreary's music changes from militaristic to human and back again. The composer says he takes his cues from the series' plot development. Once every two weeks, he sits down with the producers to watch the newest episode. Afterward, he goes home to his studio and composes.
McCreary is currently working on the music for Galactica's series prequel, Caprica, to be aired on the SciFi Channel.
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