Echo Location: The Sound of Battlestar Galactica

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON 4 (2 CD Set!) [Soundtrack] One Last  Farewell to the Best Frakkin’ Sci-Fi Show on Television

There is an audio version of this blog that is a real trip.  You can hear it here.

A couple of years ago I produced a fun interview with Bear McCreary about his soundtrack to Battlestar Galactica.  We updated it in 2008 before the final season.  Upon the release of the soundtrack to Season Four, the swansong for the show, I thought it would be a trip to pay one last visit to this great series and soundtrack. So I’ve reversioned the original interview into an Echo Location.

For those who don’t travel the spaceways of geekdom, Battlestar Galactica was a science fiction epic full of cyborgs, retro high-tech equipment and faster than light travel. But when composer and erstwhile accordionist Bear McCreary thought about the score, it wasn’t futuristic.

Bear McCreary

Bear McCreary

Bear McCreary: if I had to describe the sound of the score in one word, I would hope that it would be “ancient”.  I want the score to sound “old”.  Like “ancient old”.

Battlestar Galactica was one of the most sophisticated science fiction shows on television and Bear McCreary composed a soundtrack to match.  It’s a score based on acoustic instruments, and very traditional ones at that.

Bear McCreary: From the mini series, which kind of served as a pilot, the director on that was Michael Rymer.  And he had the idea to bring in Taiko drums.  And he was very literal about it.  His original concept was to literally score the entire show with nothing but Taiko drums.

Taiko drums remained a big part of the score throughout Battlestar‘s four seasons, but they have a limited emotional range so it wasn’t long before McCreary added an array of instruments and motifs that made it like a world music bazaar in overdrive.

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Although Bear McCreary keeps most of the score in a stylistic netherworld, sometimes, he can’t help but let his Rock ‘n’ Roll freak side leak out.  A cover version of Dylan‘s “All along the Watchtower” was a highlight of the season three soundtrack.  And earlier on, a cue called “Black Market” was far from ancient, with grinding electric guitars that were straight out of Red-era King Crimson.

Bear McCreary: Except for the heavy metal stuff, there’s some instruments in there that are really old.  You just can’t hear them because of the 5-piece rock band blasting away.

Battlestar Galactica is gone, but its sound lives on. The fourth season soundtrack has just been released. Bear McCreary’s music can also be heard in the Battlestar prequel, Caprica, and on shows like Eureka.  This has been an Echo Location.

Colonel Tigh: Big frakkin’ deal!

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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