UPDATE 12/03: Hopped back on here to answer a few more.

UPDATE 11/30 - 5:30pm: Hey everybody, this has been a blast. Somehow, it's been 2.5 hours and questions are still pouring in. I gotta get back to writing music, though. But, I'll check back in throughout the weekend and answer some more later. This is so much fun! Be sure to check out the last two episodes of "BLOOD AND CHROME" on Machinima next Friday. There are a couple fun musical cameos for you. :)

My name is Bear. I play accordion. I also write music for some pretty geeky projects. You can currently hear my score in "BSG: Blood and Chrome" on Machinima Prime: http://www.youtube.com/user/MachinimaPrime

I'm also currently scoring "The Walking Dead" and SyFy's upcoming epic "Defiance," as well as its counterpart videogame from Trion Worlds.

To find out more about me, check out my blog, where I discuss all aspects of my career... http://www.bearmccreary.com/

or my YouTube channel... http://www.youtube.com/bearmccreary

Here's proof this is actually me: https://twitter.com/bearmccreary

Ask Me Anything!

Comments: 793 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

cube1701191 karma

Another question: Did you know how important the notes in All Along The Watchtower were going to be when you initially composed it, and were the coordinates developed with the music, or done afterwards?

bearmccreary309 karma

I had no idea! I had no clue what the meaning of the song would be in the fourth season. All I knew was that I needed to do an arrangement of Bob Dylan's song and do it in a 'BSG' style. I kept the lyrics and basic vocal melody the same, but really started from scratch with the music. Somewhere in there, that 12-note line really spoke to me, and it became the basis for what I was doing.

Then, over a year later, Ron called me and told me (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) that he needed the final coordinates for the ship's last jump to be channeled through Kara, remembering the song she was taught as a little girl. So, I called up Kevin Grazier, the science advisor and asked him how the coordinates work. He told me we needed 12 numbers to describe a location in three-dimensional space.

It was crazy, like it was pre-ordained. I knew in an INSTANT how to do it, because that melody happened to be 12 notes. It was one of those moments when you feel like things must happen for a reason.

Bluello138 karma

Hi I am actually writing my dissertation on your soundtrack for BSG! I think writing for sci-fi, space and the future has dried up and a lot of composers approach this like they would any earth based show/film. What's your rationalising behind a crazy mixture of world instruments? Why does it work so well for space?

bearmccreary233 karma

That's a tough question. To be honest, I don't approach scoring for space or science fiction any different than anything else. For me, it's about the tone and the characters. 'BSG' tapped into something primal for me, something primordial. Long before I knew what the last episode would reveal, I was drawn to the mythological elements in the names and locations, and the archetypes of the characters.

So, I wanted the music to sound old. Not just old, but ANCIENT. The oldest instruments in the world are the human voice and percussion, followed shortly by primitive woodwind instruments. So, those are featured prominently in BSG.

There's something so weird about watching spaceship dogfights while hearing ancient music. It just clicked.

vwwally88 karma

Hey Bear, your work is amazing! The intro to The Walking Dead seriously creaps my wife out. And the instrumentals in BSG, especially during space/dogfighting scenes were part of what made that show great.

Do you have a have a piece of work/music that you are most proud of

bearmccreary102 karma

Wow, that's like picking your favorite child. Kind of impossible. But, some of the proudest moments I've ever had a composer were (in no particular order): - writing DIASPORA ORATORIO for the BSG episode "Revelations" - finishing the score for my first science fiction feature EUROPA REPORT - scoring the HUMAN TARGET finale with the largest orchestra ever assembled for episodic TV. I'll never forget that session as long as I live.

Apollostowel9 karma

That aria in the midseason finale of Caprica. My heart bleeds to have a recording of that. AJ did a great job!

bearmccreary27 karma

That was also one of my favorite pieces. I collaborated with my mom who wrote the 'libretto' text. So gorgeous. I can't listen to it very often because it turned out so beautifully.

cube170167 karma

Is there any update on what's happening with the Caprica soundtrack? There's so many wonderful tracks from it that I want to listen to properly.

bearmccreary112 karma

Hey cube1701... this is a great question. First, a little background on how I deal with albums. As you guys probably know, I put a lot of time and energy into them and make sure that they are great listening experiences, not just a collection of cues that were mixed for broadcast. This approach resulted in some great BSG albums, and a great album for the Caprica pilot.

The rest of the series was no exception. I assembled a collection of the best cues into suites, re-recorded, re-mixed and re-mastered a fantastic double disc album. It's done, and it's been done for a while.

However, Caprica's swift demise and slim ratings made it difficult to get this album released. I can't move forward on anything like that without involvement from NBC Universal and for a long time, there was little interest in working on an album for a show that was no longer on the air. (For the BSG records, we always had the promotion of the following season or DVD release to piggy-back on for album promotion).

So, the bad news is that no album has come out yet. But, the good news is that we're beginning to make some real progress now. NBC Universal is showing interest in letting me release this music.

The best thing fans can do is continue to show their support and enthusiasm for the idea. I'm confident we can make it happen, as long as the fans make it clear to the powers-that-be that they want it.

notverymanly64 karma

What I don't understand is why they don't allow you to release it at all. Even if the demand is small, couldn't a little effort be put into putting some tracks on iTunes or something? Even if they only released it in digital format (to cut the cost of production) it would be better than nothing.

bearmccreary142 karma

This is the single greatest frustration of my professional life. Welcome to the club.

kethinov50 karma

How can we show NBC Universal that we're interested? The scores for Caprica's first season (particularly the second half of the season) are some of my favorite cues you've ever written. It would make my week to see a release. :)

bearmccreary75 karma

Trust me. You guys are helping right now. People who can help make the Caprica album a reality are watching what's happening right now. Keep it up!

LaTeX_fetish67 karma


bearmccreary137 karma

Maybe when we're done. Once I know how it ends. :)

EverAccelerating63 karma

Passacaglia and The Shape of Things to Come are pretty much my favorite tracks from any TV series ever. Question is, how much time do you generally get to compose? I know filming a TV series can be hectic -- does that extend to composers as well? Ideally how much time do you want?

bearmccreary42 karma

I spend as much time as I possibly can. There were episodes of 'BSG' I could score over two months. There were episodes I had to do in 3 days. The average is somewhere around a week or 10 days for typical TV. I can't do anything of real quality in less than 5 days, so I'm always working with producers to work schedules out in ways that make sense.

baddxf57 karma

Hi Bear, Love love love your music and wanted to let you know that at times, it moves me to tears. Was wondering if there are any artists that do the same for you and how that influences the creative process.

bearmccreary99 karma

So, so many. Nothing moves me like music. It's why I do what I do. For me, it's mostly movie music, but not entirely.

Listening to the music of Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein or Ennio Morricone can just be devastating in all the best ways. I also love Queen, and get chills pretty much every time I hear Freddie's voice or Brian's guitar layering.

Danny Elfman's music is close to my heart as well.

Life would be empty without music. It means so much to me that I find I actually can't listen to it all the time because its overwhelming.

bambilykesthumper54 karma

Do you know why "Gaius Baltar: He's the motherfucking shit" never made the final cut in the BSG series?

bearmccreary75 karma

It is one of the greatest tragedies in Hollywood. Hopefully one day, James Callis and I will go back into the studio and re-record it.

GeekFurious52 karma

You are one of the most accessible composers I can think of, with your killer blog (seriously people, if you haven't checked it out, you should) and your YouTube channel videos, and your concerts, so is there anything you are not already doing to engage with your fans that you would like to do?

bearmccreary79 karma

Well, I'd always wanted to get involved with Reddit and... here I am!

kielgillard50 karma

We love your music, we want to give you and distributors our money to hear and enjoy it! So what in the actual frak is AMC thinking?! Why won't AMC let us give them money so we can enjoy your music in all its glorious splendour? As fans, what do you think we can do to encourage them to sell your music?

bearmccreary110 karma

I wish I could tell you. The short answer is that AMC does not understand how many people want it. I know I mentioned this fan petition, but I think its our best bet to make our voices heard:


I've tried EVERYTHING, you guys. I've worked on this for years. It's become clear I can't do it alone. Need your help on this one, if we're ever going to make it happen.

Lenitas48 karma

What are the chances of another BSG concert? Still totally bummed that I didn't have the chance to see it.

bearmccreary76 karma

Very very good. Keep an eye out on my blog or my twitter feed for more news. It may not be in the next 6 months, but I absolutely plan on performing again. Those concerts were too much fun to NOT do again. :)

keir5838 karma

Did it take a lot of convincing to get the studios to provide the budget for a live orchestra? I greatly appreciate that you use live musicians, and I'd love to see television go back in that direction.

bearmccreary66 karma

Yes and no. It didn't take a LOT of convincing, but it always takes SOME convincing. I think the biggest problem composers face right now is apathy. Our budgets are slashed and we're often hired with the feeling that the job could've gone to anyone else, so we should just shut our mouths and do our job.

But, with a little confidence, it's easy to make the case after you get the job. Show the producers what they get in exchange. Show them how you can get a BIG budget sound for a medium budget orchestra. There are a ton of tricks.

But, the first step is to ask, and a lot of people don't even take that first step.

big_gordo38 karma

Bear, I love you. I just wanted to tell you that I started learning how to play violin about a year ago because of your incredible song Roslin and Adama. It was the first song I ever learned how to properly play!

bearmccreary38 karma


BiscoBurner4238 karma

Can you talk a little about the rare but strategic usage of the "classic" BSG theme music?

bearmccreary75 karma

I could talk a LOT about that. The short answer is this:

I always loved Stu Phillips' music for the original BSG. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the reason the original show lasted in people's memories for three decades is, in part, because of the quality of his writing. It was the gold-standard of TV sci fi scoring for a long time.

When the new show came out, we were obviously going a different direction. While I was excited to have the chance to explore something new and different, it always bummed me out thinking that Stu may feel left out. After all, the new show borrowed the look, the story, the same character names, etc. But, not the music.

So, in Season 2, there was a chance to introduce the 'National Anthem' of the Colonies. It was written in the script that it should be the old 'BSG' Theme. However, I wanted to re-arrange the theme and make it our own.

So, I reached out to Stu and went over to his place. We sat down and looked at scores, parts, listened to cues. He gave me all these materials so I could get the theme right. Make it perfect and really reflect his intentions with my new version.

When I sent him the mp3 of my finished 'Colonial Anthem'... I've never been more nervous. But, he loved it. And he and I became very close friends. I found other places to incorporate his themes into the new 'BSG' as well.

lord0gnome37 karma

Which would you rather fight? One hundred duck sized Cylons or one horse sized basestar?

bearmccreary67 karma

I think the 100 duck-sized Cylons. I'd just kick them all over.

oldmonkmgm36 karma

Just wanted to say that apart from your stellar work on BSG, i loved your score for Human Target. Also whose idea was it to incorporate the Gayatri Mantra into the Main Title?

bearmccreary81 karma

That was Edward James Olmos' idea. We do as the Admiral commands. :)

cryonova32 karma

If you could date any of the cylon models which would it be?

bearmccreary171 karma

The hybrid. I have a thing for chicks that sit in bathtubs, stammering nonsense all day and night. :)

LaRosaLoca29 karma

I think your work on BSG is incredible and I give the gift of your soundtrack, particularly from Season 3 to anyone I know. Even though I had always paid attention to movie soundtracks, it wasn't until BSG that I really started paying attention to them on television before. Do you think there is a trend toward a more integrated musical presence in television and if so, what impact do you think it may have on how shows are produced?

bearmccreary37 karma

The trend is that television shows in the past decade have just become better, really an elevated art form. EVERYTHING about them is better, including the music. It's been a creative renaissance in the medium.

pancakeconjecture28 karma

Seriously incredible work you're doing, Bear. How did you come up with the idea of using Gamelan for the Cylon piece in BSG?

Could you expand a little on your process of choosing which timbres/sounds work best for a given piece? Is it more intuition, experience, formal training, experiment, or perhaps historical consideration?

Thank you for doing this!

bearmccreary46 karma

Picking instruments and sounds for a project is the absolute starting point for me. It's the first step I take on any project I take on. And in fact, as soon as I start watching a project for the first time, my mind is already racing on this topic. I can't even begin to think of melodies or rhythms until I know what SOUNDS are going to be creating them.

Looking back over everything I've been involved in, there's unique sounds to everything I've done. 'BSG' has the aforementioned world music influences. 'Sarah Connor' had custom-made pounding metallic percussion and electrically amplified string quartet. 'Walking Dead' has detuned distorted banjos, dulcimer and autoharps.

It's a huge part of my creative process.

As for why I picked the Gamelan sound for the Final Five, it was really that I wrote the melody first and found the sound fit it. (One of the rare instances where a melody came first). Years later, a friend came up to me and said he's been to Bali. He'd heard a gamelan orchestra playing a traditional tune in a village somewhere, and recorded it with his phone. He played it for me and sure enough... there was a melody there that was ALMOST my Final Five theme. It was weird.

sandrakarr11 karma

...there's gamelan in BSG and I missed it? Where?
edit: Temple of Five?

bearmccreary19 karma

Yes. However, I never used a legit gamelan orchestra until I scored SOCOM 4. That was when I brought in a real ensemble. For BSG, I used some gamelan instrumentation and a gamelan inspired melody.

charliemcr26 karma

Bear, what was your first real gig? and how did you get it?

I mean. Did you know someone? Get lucky at the right time? or something else? I'm tired of seeing "Step 1: Learn music, Step 2: Hone your skill. Step 3: ??????? Step 4: Profit!"

bearmccreary48 karma

As I mentioned earlier, 'BSG' was my first gig. It took years of writing music, starting before high school. Scoring dozens of student films, moving to Los Angeles and spending every waking minute trying to get better and loving every minute of it.

Then, it took a lucky break at the right time.

ultimation24 karma

Thanks for doing this!

Who's idea was it to include the soundtrack into the actual story line of BSG?

That seriously made me so happy when they did it. BSG is still my favourite tv series to date.

Also, how did you pick All along the watch tower? It's was an amazing choice.

bearmccreary31 karma

It was a natural process. I imagine the idea originated with Ron, since he wanted to use music as a narrative tool to (SPOILER ALERT) reveal the identities of the last four cylons. But, it also evolved throughout the last season as I began to collaborate with the writers more directly.

QuantumDrone22 karma

Greetings! I just want to say your work is awesome and very inspiring and as I'm a fellow composer, I'd also like to ask what your favorite top 3 VSTs (software instruments and effects) are that you use frequently.

bearmccreary28 karma

Well, I don't really use a lot of these to be honest. The vast majority of my work is recorded with live instruments or custom made samples. I generally just use VST's for making demos of instruments that will be replaced with the real thing later.

However, in terms of synthesis, I've found the two plug-ins that I like the most are NI's MASSIVE (which you may have heard to great effect i last week's 'Walking Dead') and u-he's ZEBRA (which you may have heard to great effect in 'BSG: Blood and Chrome').

Both pieces of software are relatively easy to use, and I combine them with many plug-ins and effects to custom-tailor the sound I'm hearing in my head.

Korietsu5 karma

NI Massive is an absolutely fantastic piece of software. Is the rest of your work done in an environment like Abelton or Reason? For the demo tracks at least?

bearmccreary13 karma

I've never used those other pieces of software. I primarily work in Digital Performer.

vantek22 karma

Hello Bear, thanks for doing this AMA and for your very enjoyable work in some enjoyable shows & films.

As an accordionist, how do you feel about the stigma occasionally attached to the instrument? Would you like to see it used in more popular music rather than being associated with dancing white people and "Weird Al" Yankovic?

bearmccreary58 karma

I hate the stigma. To be honest, I never play polkas or any stupid shit like that, unless there's a really good reason. I think it's a very expressive and powerful instrument. Anyone who argues should watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPu3XBSlJyk

notverymanly22 karma

Have you ever thought about venturing more into metal? I think it would be an amazing pairing with your style.

bearmccreary61 karma

If you're into metal, I promise that you will enjoy my score for KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM, which will come out next year. In fact, I would warn you to put your shittin' pants on before you listen,

pastaandpizza22 karma

Do you ever get upset about the plots (as in you don't like where the show is going) you're scoring for? Does your personal feelings towards the plots affect your music?

bearmccreary60 karma

Music IS personal feelings. There's no way to separate it. So, if I'm scoring a scene on Tuesday, it could be totally different if I wrote it on Wednesday instead. For me, it's about channeling those personal feelings, remembering what it was like to feel emotions the characters are feeling. This is why scoring scenes like the end of "Killer Within" from "Walking Dead" can be so emotionally devastating.

It's like method acting. It might not be the most healthy way to write music, but its the only way I know.

chrismansell21 karma

Hi. I graduated university recently, and I had a lot of your music on repeat while writing my dissertation, especially Kara's Coordinates, so thank you for helping me pass.

  1. I recently pledged to the World of Steam Kickstarter. The video mentioned you scored the first episode. Are you involved with the rest of the season at all?

  2. In the first season of Walking Dead, when the group leave the camp, Adagio in D-Minor is used. Given how masterfully it was used in Sunshine and Kick Ass, it took me out of the scene a little to hear it. Was there a reason you didn't score this scene? Was Adagio a placeholder track that everyone liked enough to leave in?

  3. I very much enjoyed your score from Dark Void. Does scoring a video game differ greatly from scoring a TV show, given that it depends much more on player input, whereas a TV show is linear and paced by the creators.

  4. Do you have a dream project? For example, I'd love to hear you score something Star Wars related, and I guess that's more possible if they're doing as many spinoff movies as they've promised.

  5. Was there a reason for the differences in All Along The Watchtower from the episode and from the soundtrack CD? I preferred the CD version, but it was strange to hear a different arrangement being used.

Thank you.

bearmccreary35 karma

Hi! Ok...

  1. Yes, I am scoring the webseries WORLD OF STEAM. I'm doing the entire series, although only the first episode exists right now. People who contributed to the Kickstarter will get to hear it first and I believe that producer Matt King is also giving away some signed scores and soundtrack CDs to certain contributors. But, once the series goes online sometime next year, everyone will get to hear / see it.

  2. I was not involved with that decision.

  3. Scoring a game is different and the same all at the same time. The technicalities are very different, because the music must be formatted in ways that allow for maximum adaptability. But, thematically and emotionally I'm still trying to convey certain emotions and use themes to communicate larger story arcs (for games where that approach is appropriate)

  4. Dream project? I've been so lucky that I feel like I've already scored a couple dream projects.

  5. There are differences between album versions for most everything. The broadcast version had long gaps without lyrics, long sitar jams and extended sections to make room for dialog. The pacing is really weird. So, I made a 'single' version for the album, trimming out the fat. However, when the time is right, I think it would be cool to release the extended version as well. It has some great moments.

notverymanly21 karma

I feel it's necessary to repost this. http://i.imgur.com/Bfnv3.png

bearmccreary21 karma


Apollostowel21 karma

Kara Thrace and Her Special Destiny or Tom Zarek and His Personal Deathwish?

bearmccreary23 karma

I would love to see a concert of Kara Thrace, but I would play wicked keyboards in Zarek's band!

Buttcrabse20 karma

Huge fan of your music in both the Galactica series and The Walking Dead. I had not touched a piano in about a year when I bought the BattleStar Galactica piano book and I love playing the songs(a promise to return is my favorite).What age were you when you started composing your own music, and what advice would you give to someone such as myself who has only been composing for about two years now.

bearmccreary23 karma

I was probably 12 when I started writing music, and probably 14 when I was able to actually do it. Prior to that I just played and played and played piano all day.

The advice is easy. Love it and do it.

hitabso201220 karma

Well are you a fan of of any of the shows you do compositions for?

bearmccreary29 karma

I'm a fan of all of them. That's why I take them on.

timelord7119 karma

Who's your favourite composer right now, other than yourself?

bearmccreary55 karma

You mean working composer, right? Not favorite composer of all time?

I really love the scores for Avatar and Legend of Korra by Jeremy Zuckerman and Ben Wynn. Those guys are good friends and I'm so thrilled to see them getting opportunities for incredible musical storytelling. I want to see them score bigger projects.

Naonadhe19 karma

Hi Bear,

Thanks so much for doing this! I'm curious how you decided to approach your arrangement of "All Along The Watchtower", since it's been done and redone so many times?


bearmccreary39 karma

Well, I had specific instructions not to quote or reference any version that currently existed, so I didn't listen to any of them. Of course, we all know the Hendriz version, but I went back to the Dylan version and really internalized it. Then, I just decided to write the most kick ass and personal version I could. I didn't think about what the studio or network or even Ron Moore would think. I just went for it.

The result was this dark, heavy metal, Indian, George-Harrison-Meets-Rage-Against-The-Machine insane piece of music. I thought everyone would hate it, because it had so much personality.

But, everyone LOVED it. My first pass demo recording is virtually indistinguishable from the final recording.

Halada18 karma

Have you ever thought about composing for trailers (à la Thomas Bergensen's Two Step from Hell)?

You'd be so awesome as it.

Also, STAR CITIZEN, a game that was just crowdfunded and amassed close to 8M, will be hiring a composer for a full orchestral score soon. I suggested you :)

bearmccreary21 karma

Trailers don't interest me at all, I must say. I really need a longer narrative form to get my creative juices going. To be honest, I really admire the composers who can pull out the stops and write an amazing trailer score.

mikendave18 karma

I feel like you are like the modern man's John Williams. Were you influenced at all by the great space epic composers before you?

bearmccreary27 karma

Very much so. Especially Jerry Goldsmith and his score for "Star Trek TMP"

notverymanly18 karma

Hey there, Bear! Thank for doing an AMA. I've been looking forward to it all day.

Back in the times of BSG, I remember you were in an episode as a random guy sitting at the bar. Should we be watching for any cameos of you in Blood & Chrome?

bearmccreary28 karma

Regrettably, I'm not making any cameos in Blood and Chrome, but you can listen for some musical themes making cameos in the score! :)

sandrakarr15 karma

It wasn't that I was surprised to hear the familiar tunes triumphant return, I was surprised by which tunes I heard, such as a bit of 'Heart of the Sun' when Husker gets his first look at Galactica in episode one.
Actually, wait...now that I think about it, first and last look of the Galactica. Got it. Derp.

bearmccreary28 karma

Well, that's why, yes. But, there's another theme from BSG coming that you guys haven't heard yet. :)

just_another_reddit17 karma

I recently started BSG from the beginning again, and I watch Walking Dead every week when it's on - Your music adds so much to both!

My question is: How long do you think you'd survive in a war against Cylons, and how long do you think you'd survive in a world torn apart by zombies?

Keep up the good work.

bearmccreary31 karma

I'd last a lot longer in a war against zombies than Cylons. You can always identify the threat in a zombie world and Cylons are much more intelligent and devious.

lvf16 karma

Did you ever get any flak about your name being Bear?

bearmccreary32 karma

Never. It has never occurred ever. :)

DomTheWrench16 karma

Hi Bear! You seem totally cool and have shown me how fun being a composer can be. At what point in a composer's career is it important to make the big investment in terms of computers, software and hardware? I'm currently on a very basic set-up and have pushed it to the limit, but the investment seems steep! Is there one crucial piece of equipment you would recommend to start out with? Thanks, and keep up the awesome work!

bearmccreary34 karma

This is a very good question and I'm glad you asked. There are two schools of thought on this. One is, of course, to get everything now and be ready when the big gigs come.

My philosophy, though, is different. I say that the gigs will dictate how much stuff you need. As more work comes in, you can afford more gear and your work will sound better which will lead to better gigs, and so on...

I think, in general, there's too much emphasis on the gear. Yes, there's a MINIMUM amount of technology you need to be conversant with filmmakers and deliver a good product. But, you can always find help with this stuff. The most important thing is the QUALITY of your music, your inventiveness, your originality. This is what matters. The rest tends to sort itself out.

edify16 karma

Thanks for the AMA Bear. What are some of the stranger things you've used as samples in your music?

bearmccreary29 karma

Wow, tons of stuff. I did a whole video blog about scoring 'The Walking Dead' with a kazoo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3daPy27zqo

I've also sampled car parts, oil drums and a bunch of junk for 'Sarah Connor'. We're always on the lookout for weird sounds that can be manipulated into something musical.

MassiveEndork15 karma

I know you've worked on video games before but is there any particular games or franchise you would love to work on?

bearmccreary45 karma

Mega Man. I would give anything to score a Mega Man game. :)

take_the_black11 karma

Dark void was amazing. Would totally enjoy mega man from you.

bearmccreary24 karma

And if you haven't already, check out my 8-bit score for DARK VOID ZERO. This is essentially my homage to 8-bit Mega Man scores!
http://www.bearmccreary.com/blog/video-games/the-dark-void-zero-score/ its on iTunes as a cheap little EP. Fun stuff.

Caprica8313 karma


I'm a major BSG fan, especially of the music. My favorite piece from BSG is Roslin & Adama. I am curious as to what led you to create such a profoundly deep piece of music like that. How did you have to prepare to write such a piece and what did it feel like during and after you wrote it?

Caprica83 (Ashley)

bearmccreary24 karma

Well, I could lie and say it was a big emotional moment... but the fact is that it came very quickly. At the time I wrote it, I really had NO IDEA that it would become such a fan favorite or be a story line that would continue on so profoundly until the end of the series. Sometimes, these things can surprise you.

But, I've always loved Scottish and Irish music and I felt there was a sadness in their story line that would benefit from a folk/waltz on a Scottish fiddle. It worked out pretty well. :)

couldfillabook12 karma

In a market of fairly bland television music, you manage to create some of the most fascinating music for some of the best shows on television. You rock! Just a side note here, but every time those strings start up for The Walking Dead intro, I crank the volume. That theme gets me every time.

On that note, when are we going to see an album for The Walking Dead? We're two and a half seasons in already! Also, will we ever see a boxset for your Battlestar Galactica scores? I'd pick up both in a heartbeat.

bearmccreary24 karma

I want to release a "Walking Dead" album more than anything. Currently, there are no plans. AMC will never authorize this until they feel that fans want it.

Some fans actually started a petition on facebook. This is about the closest thing we have to ever seeing a 'Walking Dead' album become a reality.


Spoochy9112 karma

What inspired you to get into music in the first place? What made you decide to go into making music for TV & Movies??

bearmccreary31 karma

This is the one thing I've always wanted to do my entire life. Hearing scores like Silvestri's BACK TO THE FUTURE, Elfman's BEETLEJUICE, Goldsmith's ALIEN, William's EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Poledouris' CONAN THE BARBARIAN sealed the deal for me at a very young age.

freevo13 karma

Man. Thanks for name-checking Basil Poledouris. I think he was one of the greatest and most-overlooked film composers.

bearmccreary19 karma

He is one of the greatest. Frankly, I'm amazed more fans don't comment on how much my BSG music was obviously influenced by him.

bryface12 karma

hi bear, are there any notable examples of musical ideas that you felt strongly about including in your work, but were shot down by the studio or producers?

for instance, in BSG were there any instances where Ron Moore / David Eick just kinda went "ehh, that instrument or musical passage is too weird or doesn't really belong, can we take it out?"

i'm asking because i kinda chuckled during the sequence in Blood and Chrome where Coker mans the raptor guns during the chase in Cylon space. at one point the music started rocking out with what sounded like an electric guitar HELL YEAH kind of solo, but was actually some other instrument. well played!

bearmccreary18 karma

That was an electric violin solo by my boy Paul Cartwright, who played a lot on BSG. But, there is a heavy dose of electric guitar in the BSG:B&C score.

As for the other part of your question, that's a healthy part of the collaborative process. I rely on filmmakers to tell me what doesn't work so we can fix it and find the music that matches their vision.

Keywork9911 karma

Hey Bear! I've heard your music featured in a few of James Rolfe's videos for the Angry Video Game Nerd. How did that collaboration come about? You guys know each other from somewhere?

bearmccreary13 karma

James and I became friends because I'm a huge fan of what he does. He's hilarious and provides cathartic therapy for the years I spent in my youth playing shitty games.

Travsterr11 karma

In "Cally Descends", what is that opening instrument that just WAILS? It sounds so mournful... Great choice in instrumentation! That track is stellar, as is "The Signal" which has an incredible chant that blows my mind.

bearmccreary15 karma

What you're hearing is almost certainly Paul Cartwright's electric violin. He's amazing. That's also the only track of mine to feature a string instrument called the lufta.

fuzzypandabuttmunch10 karma

Bear, you are awesome!

  1. How did the NASA fanfare come to be played at the final shuttle launch? Were you approached by them?

  2. Do you plan on potentially introducing lyrical music to the Walking Dead soundtrack (in a similar way to All Along the Watchtower/BSG)?

  3. What are your favorite musical scores?

bearmccreary24 karma

  1. Yes, I was approached by NASA to write the official fanfare for the final shuttle launch in US history. It was played at the event, though not broadcast on CNN.
  2. I actually was involved in a song you'll hear on Walking Dead on Sunday's mid-season finale. The featured vocalist is Raya Yarbrough, who sang a lot on BSG. :)
  3. Favorite scores... I know I answered this somewhere already. :)

book124510 karma

I know a CD release of Caprica is tied up at the moment, but what's the word on a release of Blood & Chrome?

bearmccreary20 karma

Plans are afoot.

Buttcrabse10 karma

Kirk or Picard?

bearmccreary26 karma

I don't want to start shit, here. But, it's Kirk.

... now wait, before any one gets too pissed, let me clarify...

Kirk from the FILMS beats everyone. I'm sorry, but he's just a fantastic character, with that perfect mix of bravado and humbling experience.

Picard is amazing, and I love him. And Picard in the TNG series is great. But , the Picard from the TNG films does absolutely nothing for me. There I said it.

cube170110 karma

If a TV show you compose for decides to use licensed music for parts of it, do you usually have any input into what these are?

More specifically, did you help choose "When The Man Comes Around" for the massacre scene at the end of The Sarah Connor Chronicles (season 1)? It just fit so well with the action, and the lyrics were very relevant, too.

bearmccreary14 karma

The vast majority of the time, no, I have no input in these decisions.

Bjossigudjons10 karma

Hey Bear, became a fan of yours when I was watching BSG. I loved your theme for Human Target also and now I am enjoying your work on The Walking Dead. My question is, what is your favorite theme of all those series you've done ?

bearmccreary18 karma

My favorite theme, like character theme, or Main Title theme? The first answers to spring to mind... Character Theme - Katherine's Theme from Human Target Main Title Theme - The Cape. That one just kicks ass and let me go back to my childhood days listening to Shirley Walker's score for 'Batman: TAS'

Foulkey9 karma

Hi Bear. Any advice for somebody looking to get into playing the piano?

bearmccreary21 karma

two steps... 1). love playing. You just need to do it all the time. and 2). practice your scales. I did step 1, and I've always regretted skipping step 2 because it really holds me back as a player.

renthicya9 karma

Dear God of Music (that's you!).

Are you planning to release a BSG Drum Book (similar to your piano book) with sheets for drummers who wish to have your masterpieces in written form?

bearmccreary15 karma

Yes, I'm hoping to get sheet music and arrangements out for other ensembles. No reason to just limit to pianists. :)

mupet00009 karma

I've been listening to your albums since I heard the music on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This is what got me into watching BSG and I loved it!

Are there any unreleased tracks from TSCC that will ever come out? I really did enjoy that soundtrack.

bearmccreary12 karma

My favorite unreleased track is a re-recording of an old mexican folk song 'La Llorona', sung by John Avila of Oingo Boingo fame. I played accordion on it too and it incorporated my Sarah Connor Theme at the end. Just a fantastic track. I hope we can release it one of these days, yes.

JAVSnyc8 karma

Do you find composing for a web series is different then a cable/network series, especially when the meta-story is the same?

bearmccreary15 karma

Well, its usually different because the budgets are... well, there usually aren't budgets to speak of. The webseries I've been involved in are projects I do for fun because I love the people making them and want to help out filmmakers who have a great story to tell.

JaminEatWorld7 karma

Hi Bear -- is it true the BSG theme was inspired by Paul Ruskay's Homeworld soundtrack? Have you heard much of his new stuff for Strike Suit Zero? Are you a big fan of space combat games?

bearmccreary9 karma

I would have to say that no, it is not true, since I have no idea who or what you're talking about. :)

MellowYellow147 karma

Hi Bear,

Just wanted to let you know I love your soundtracks for BSG... My friends and I play the BSG board game a lot and always love to listen to your soundtacks while we play. It really sets the mood, while we accuse each other of being a Cylon!!.

bearmccreary9 karma

I hear the board game is fantastic. It takes hours to play through it right?

tonyobserver6 karma

Hi Bear, I'm an enormous fan of your work on BSG. I've listened to the soundtracks hundreds of times while writing papers, my dissertation, etc. My wife and I also used "Roslin and Adama" as our song at our wedding. Have you ever considered releasing a CD of your amazing piano renditions of the BSG soundtrack? I'd definitely buy it! (For anyone who hasn't yet heard these, you should check out Bear's channel on youtube.)

bearmccreary8 karma

Well, I'm hoping you're aware of BSX Record's album since they recorded the whole thing with an AMAZING pianist. I even guested on the record. http://www.bearmccreary.com/blog/battlestar-galactica-3/battlestar-galactica-solo-piano-cd/ I'm not planning on doing my own record, but you can hear my own interpretations on my YouTube channel.

EthanBogdan6 karma

Hey, Bear - thanks for doing this!

Within the re-imagined BSG universe, B&C would seem to have most in common with the mini-series, both of which draw particularly heavily on the classic series, and yet both of which were intended to kick off something new. Have those parallels shaped your musical approach, and how has it been different approaching B&C with a large body of past BSG work to build on, (albeit work from a later era of the show)?

bearmccreary14 karma

Starting "Blood and Chrome" was an immense challenge. For purely personal reasons, I didn't want to recycle the same old sounds and themes as I'd done on 'BSG.' But also, creatively, its a totally different show. And I need closure on 'BSG.' That was such an epic journey, it would be too much to start it over again.

So, I needed some new approaches and techniques. And while the score to 'BSG' is clearly an influence, I think the score to "B&C" stands apart. I would love for the opportunity to expand upon it and do more episodes in the future.

Husker19896 karma

Hi Bear, what is your favourite episode of Battlestar Galactica and why?

bearmccreary13 karma

Though I want to say it's impossible to pick one, I have to say my favorites would be Revelations Someone to Watch Over Me The first four episodes of Season 3. The reasons are because these are all absolutely astonishing pieces of television and I'm honored to be involved with them.

Runny1236 karma

You were my inspiration to start making music. I really have no questions just a Thank you from me!

bearmccreary14 karma

Go for it!

Buttcrabse5 karma

What software for recording music do you use?

bearmccreary11 karma

I kind of use them all. :) I write in Digital Performer. The guys and gals in my studio print audio stems in Logic, orchestrate in Sibelius, host VSTs in Plogue Bidule, host VSTs and run Audio / MIDI through Vienna Ensemble Pro and we record and mix in Pro Tools. Whew! That's just to name a few. :)

Roflcopter715 karma

Hey Bear, I'm a huge BSG fan and the music you made for it was incredible. What is your favorite composition for the show, or the one you're most proud of?

bearmccreary15 karma

The aforementioned Diaspora Oratorio. Dreilide Thrace Sonata No 1. Something Dark is Coming. Geez, I don't know where to start. What about you guys? What are your favorites?

GreySceptic5 karma

What is your creative process in composing for television?

bearmccreary15 karma

I draw from the show. I tap into my love for the characters and the story. When I watch a show, even with a temp score (or no score) and temp visual effects, I still get a gut reaction the same as you guys do. I get to enjoy it as a fan. The only difference is, then I need to figure out how to help FINISH the show so that people can hear the music I'm hearing in my head when I watch it.

But, the key word there is 'enthusiasm.' If I don't love a show, or I'm not hooked with the characters, it's really tough.

GeekFurious5 karma

You have said that season 4 of BSG was your favorite to score. Why is that? The music is fantastic and The Signal is my favorite piece in the entire series, so I can see why you love that season, but what about it stands out most for you that puts it up top?

bearmccreary15 karma

Season 4 was the best experience for me, because I'd built up a huge body of thematic material that I could draw from. Imagine pulling a catapult back to the breaking point. That was season 1 - 3, because I kept writing new material as characters evolved and changed. Season 4 was letting the catapult go and having all those themes mash together in new and exciting ways.

gallowglass101915 karma

Who played the uilleann pipes during the "lighter scene" in season 2? I can't seem to find that info anywhere. Beautiful song.

bearmccreary13 karma

Eric Rigler, the astonishingly talented musician who also played on Braveheart and Titanic. Working with him is one of the favorite parts of my job.

yavitz5 karma

Huge fan of your work, especially the BSG soundtrack. My favorite track is Battlestar Sonatica, could you recommend any other songs that have a similar sound? I just can't get enough of it!

bearmccreary15 karma

The intro was inspired heavily by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The developmental sections are more modern harmonically, but I can't think of a specific composer who I borrowed from. I'm sure I did, though, just can't think of it. :)

nshady4 karma

First of all, love your work. You've written some of my favourite themes. Inspiring.

Do you ever compose as a team? In my head I'm l was pondering how awesome it would be if Giacchino and you worked together on something, but immediately realised that sort of creativity might be tough as a group when writing can be so introspective or auteur-ish. So, have you ever worked as a co-author on a series or project, was it difficult, enjoyable, productive etc.?

Many thanks.

bearmccreary14 karma

Interesting question. I rarely collaborate with other composers. My mind just isn't wired that way.

However, I've collaborated with my brother a few times and we've written some amazing songs together. We wrote a kick ass tune for KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM, among other things. So, that's always fun.

It's like love... when the right person comes along, you know. :)

JRV5564 karma

I know that you did the music for Step Up 3D and some direct to DVD movies, but do you think that you might be doing scores for any more theatrical films anytime soon?

bearmccreary13 karma

Yes. That will be happening with some frequency next year. I'm scoring EUROPA REPORT and KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM both of which will hit screens in 2012. They've both got trailers out.

[deleted]4 karma

Hi Bear, have you ever composed for symphony orchestra? Any possibility of a Symphony or Double Bass Concerto in the future?

bearmccreary10 karma

A double bass concerto? that's an awfully specific request. :) I'll have to think on it.

I've never done a full symphony, although I did a big concert suite called "THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SYMPHONY" that was performed in Spain in 2010. Pretty amazing experience.

monostasis4 karma

Hi Bear, thanks for doing this AMA!

I was wondering if you talk a little about the creative process of writing for visuals. When you're working on a new show, what are the kind of things you think about before you get down to actually writing notes? Or do you write a whole load of sketches and then think about what works and what doesn't?

bearmccreary12 karma

I map out themes. Themes are my road map through the score. If I know where the theme ends up at the end of the episode (or even further down the line in the series) then I can get an idea of how to approach a given scene with a given character.

Writing themes is a tortuous process, though. I can spend days on a single theme (the MT for The Cape took a week). That's when I sit at the piano for hours in misery playing the same little fragments over and over and over. It's like I'm unravelling a big cable knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting...