Hi everyone, I’m Bear McCreary, composer of “The Walking Dead,” “Battlestar Galactica,” "Defiance" and other cool stuff. I’m currently scoring “Da Vinci’s Demons” and would be happy to answer your questions.

For more exclusive video and details about my creative process, check out my blog: http://www.bearmccreary.com/

My Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/bearmccreary

See my previous AMA here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/142qwd/i_am_bear_mccreary_bearmccreary_composer_for/

And proof this is actually me: http://tinyurl.com/cujc5a7

Ask Me Anything!

**** EDIT - 5/3, 3:15 PM: Hey everyone, I had a great time answering your questions. Time flies, and I have to get back to writing more music! I'll stop by later tonight and answer more questions, so keep them coming. Be sure to check out "Da Vinci's Demons" on Starz at 9PM on Fridays, and check out my blog for a scene-by-scene breakdown and new video blogs. ****

Comments: 648 • Responses: 106  • Date: 

clunkclunk257 karma

When my wife and I got married in 2010, our first dance was to "Roslin & Adama."

Thanks for such a nice piece for us geeks!

iambearmccreary160 karma

Aw, that's fantastic! Thanks for letting me know. :)

Frajer105 karma

How did that Watchtower cover come about?

iambearmccreary133 karma

It was a Ron Moore idea. He had wanted to use it since Season 1. Finally, Season 3 gave him the perfect chance. Oddly, though, he gave me no real input for what it should sound like, so I had complete creative freedom to interpret it and change it as I saw fit.

5amHall96 karma

You've met Edward James Olmos. Does his voice rumble through you like a distant thunder when you are in his presence?

iambearmccreary158 karma

Eddie and I are pretty close. He's an amazing man, and yes, he does exude this natural gravitas that's undeniable. We call him the Admiral. He even signs emails like that. He's awesome. A very inspiring guy.

CreepyOctopus91 karma

Bear, thanks for your awesome work on BSG. The show is some of the best entertainment I've had in any medium, and the soundtrack has always been a huge part of it. Would you care to provide some background on The Signal from Season 4? It's one of my favorites, and the intense part with the vocals is quite atypical of BSG. How did you come to use Samoan there?

Also, ever play the duduk? I know you've used it in your scores, but at least on BSG it was someone else actually playing it.

Oh, and I just have to say that Prelude to War is one of the best musical pieces ever on TV, especially given how amazingly well it sounded in the context of the episode.

iambearmccreary116 karma

The Signal was probably one of the hardest pieces I've ever written for a choir. First of all, it's in 7/8. Second of all, they're chanting assymettrical rhythms that never repeat. Then, they have to sing in Samoan. And it swings! That took a little while to get right!

kashumeof1962 karma

My wife walked down the aisle to "The Shape of Things to Come".

Also, I think your version of Watchtower is easily the best out there.

iambearmccreary39 karma


addrar60 karma

Bear, will you score my life in real-time?

iambearmccreary183 karma

Solo accordion and banjo work for you?

clewesy54 karma

Of the entire Battlestar score, what was your favourite piece to compose, or what were you most proud of? Me and my friend personally love Kara Remembers and are in the process of learning the duet.

iambearmccreary96 karma

You guys are learning the duet!? Wow! Will you post it to YouTube and send it to me. I wanna see!

5amHall48 karma

Are you alive?

iambearmccreary88 karma

(cue #6 Theme)

AndNowIKnowWhy18 karma

Trial by kissing might be neccessary.

iambearmccreary38 karma


Slackerchan37 karma

Hey, Bear! Long-time listener. Any chance you've convinced the AMC guys by now to allow you to release a Walking Dead score?

iambearmccreary61 karma

I've heard nothing about any score release yet. But, I know your voices are being heard. This fanmade facebook campaign is probably the best place to start right now: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Walking-Dead-Fans-cry-out-for-a-Soundtrack-Album/283650395045737?fref=ts

Calveezzzy36 karma

You're only answering questions about stuff? I wanted to ask you about thangs. :(

iambearmccreary92 karma

My lawyer has advised me not to talk about thangs. Only stuff.

halfmast35 karma

I just want you to know that one of my favorite things to do is get drunk by myself on a Friday or Saturday night, mute the tv, put in Halo, put on my headphones and blast "Prelude to War." Thank you for this epic gift.

iambearmccreary36 karma

Dude, sounds like fun!

mainvolume31 karma

Any chance on doing another BSG live performance along with a DVD/CD of said performance?

iambearmccreary50 karma

We're definitely working on some exciting live performance and DVD projects. Hang in there!

matt2thepatt31 karma

What was the first score you ever purchased?

iambearmccreary72 karma

Alan Silvestri's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". That started it all.

herachrist27 karma

Hey Bear - I love the gamelan and eastern sounds you use in the BSG series, as well as those incredible booming war drums. For an amateur musician who would like to explore and learn those eastern scales, what's a good way to go about it and is it possible on typical instruments like guitar and piano?

iambearmccreary36 karma

You have to go find the instruments. You can't write for instruments you don't have access to, and that applies to orchestral instruments as well. Find some players, some ensembles, in your area, and just hang out. Ask them how their instruments work.

amarxistllama24 karma

Hey Bear! Enormous fan of your work on BSG. I think it's some of the most perfect, atmospheric scoring I've ever heard.

Can you score more video games, please? That would be awesome..

iambearmccreary54 karma

Ok. Because you asked. :) Stay tuned...

BenjenGrimes24 karma

Do you think its a possibility we will ever see a Bear McCreary walker cameo?

iambearmccreary89 karma

I've already pitched this idea to Greg Nicotero. I want to be a Walker ACCORDION PLAYER. As soon as the right script comes along, we're gonna do it!

Komotaxy23 karma

Beets, Bears, Battlestar Galactica.

iambearmccreary34 karma

There's no music in Battlestar Galactica. It's all sound effects! ;)

clitromney20 karma

has your music ever gotten you laid? cause then it'd be a score-score

iambearmccreary61 karma

Why else would someone go into music? ;)

TheMagnificentChrome19 karma

Seriously no mention of Human Target?

I still think the show was canceled because they replaced the theme.

iambearmccreary23 karma

I loved that score. Every once in a while I bring it up on my iPod just to remember how much it kicked ass. I am very honored to have worked on that show for a season. :)

ClassicalKUSC19 karma

The "reverse melody" of Da Vinci's Demons: Fascinating. From whence did that germinate?

Also, do you now only compose with the aid of a mirror?

iambearmccreary36 karma

I got the idea from studying Da Vinci. I was fasicnated that he would write forwards and backwards. In trying to write a theme for the man (not just the character) I thought that was an intriguing idea to apply to music. I haven't resorted to a mirror just yet, but maybe for season 2. it might come in handy!

AkselBT19 karma

Hi Bear, What is your favorite band? (Please say Dream Theater) :)

iambearmccreary59 karma

Hard to choose. A random list... Oingo Boingo. Queen. Pink Floyd. System of a Down. Guns N Roses. Dethklok.

rocket_jocky19 karma

play more accordion

iambearmccreary29 karma

you got it.

Kamarandi19 karma

Will they ever release the BSG score on Spotify?

iambearmccreary23 karma

Hopefully. We're working on it.

gjcbs18 karma

First, thanks for doing the AMA. Love the work on BSG, Walking Dead and now enjoying Defiance (enjoyed hearing some BSG-like sound in it). Who do you enjoying listening to in the score composing world?
Any Audiomachine, Two Steps From Hell, Brian Tyler, Dennis McCarthy? What are some of your favorite tracks done by others? Again-big fan and thanks for making such great music for us fans!!

iambearmccreary33 karma

Most of my favorite scores are from the past. Goldsmith's scores for Joe Dante and Star Trek. Elmer Bernstein's dramas and epics in the 50s and 60s. Basil Poledouris' Conan scores. Today, I hear some great stuff from Nathan Johnson, like Looper. And Jeremy Zuckerman, like "Legend of Korra." Those guys are awesome.

NobodyTakeMeCereal18 karma


iambearmccreary34 karma

Thai food. Because I'd spent a month in Italy and hadn't had any asian food in forever!

MexicolaClassic17 karma

What piece from the BSG score are you most proud of?

iambearmccreary43 karma

Off the top of my head, "Diaspora Oratorio" from Season 4. That took a lot out of me to write. Then again, the entire final episode did that too. That series was an emotional roller coaster and completing it was an incredible feeling.

YesVeryNice15 karma

Do you miss the Terminator universe? Still friends with the cast and would you be willing to do the score for Terminator 5? –TheArnoldFans

iambearmccreary35 karma

I miss working in the Terminator universe very much. I would be honored to continue working in that franchise, but I must admit... I want to continue the series more than I want to work on the movies. I very much miss working with my Sarah Connor Theme. I have variations of it still rolling around in my head. I wish we could've done more.

cjm6279013 karma

Which composer would you say inspires you the most?

iambearmccreary29 karma

Probably Jerry Goldsmith. Also Elmer Bernstein, Danny Elfman, Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone to name just a few. Oh, and Basil Poledouris.

daelab13 karma

Can I just say that I love your wife's blog? (Yours too. But yours is more educational while her Florence entries had me on the floor laughing.) You two are awesome.

iambearmccreary14 karma

I know! Raya's blog is fantastic. She had these great recaps of our Italian journey, and moments with the "Da Vinci's" cast. Worth checking out! http://www.rayayarbrough.com/

But beyond that, her prose is just amazing. She's actually adapting some of her old entries into a musical that we're putting up in Los Angeles in June. Stay tuned for details!

ceralyn12 karma

Hey, Bear! I love your work! I know you get asked this all the time, but what would be the best way to push for an official soundtrack of your music from The Walking Dead? And why do you think AMC is so reluctant to release one? It's pretty obvious that people want one, right

EDIT: Also - what's it like working on something as hugely popular as TWD? Do you ever get the chance to interact with the cast? Any good stories?

meddlecro11 karma

I just want you to know that I think you are an amazing composer. Up there with the great ones like Morricone, Williams, Zimmer,... and the amazing part is that you are stilk young. Cant wait for your future projects, maybe something with celtic influences like Wander my friends

iambearmccreary16 karma

I would love to do a score that would allow me to use more Celtic influences! :)

MinusTheFire11 karma

How was it that you first came in contact with James Rolfe, AKA The Angry Video Game Nerd, and how's the score for the AVGN movie coming along (if you've started work on it yet)?

Thanks for doing this AMA. My phone's ring tone is currently "Maverick Regeneration", as it's one of my favorite "get pumped" songs.

iambearmccreary20 karma

Awesome! "Maverick Regeneration" is one of my favorite tracks. I'm so glad people are still enjoying it. As for James Rolfe, I met him because I'm a huge fan of his videos. I've seen every one at least 4 or 5 times. So, I dropped him an email and said I owed him some work in return for all the enjoyment his videos had brought me. I scored one of his episodes (How the Nerd Stole Christmas) and now we're working on his first feature.

mubashir133710 karma

What is your most favorite piece you have scored?

iambearmccreary28 karma

Wow, I don't think I could ever pick. Most composers will always tell you that their favorite piece of music is the one they're working on right now. That applies for me I think.

BenjenGrimes9 karma

Bear First off I want to say I am a huge fan of yours and thank you for your great work. Really thank you!

  1. What is your favorite song you've written for any show you have scored?

  2. Who were/are your idols/favorite composers?

  3. THANK YOU for bringing back The Mercy of the Living in S3 of TWD. It's my favorite OST of any movie/show. I can't explain the zone it puts me In along with the emotions I feel. I hope to hear it bits of it again!!

  4. Okay seriously, what's the deal with TWD soundtrack? I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Tell AMC to release it! It Really sucks I can't listen to your music whenever I want..

  5. Again I just wanna say thank you. You're an idol, a great composer, and from what I can tell an all out awesome guy. Doing your 2nd AMA on here. Much love Bear! Thank you!

iambearmccreary13 karma

  1. I don't think I could ever pick.
  2. I answered this somewhere in this AMA already I think
  3. You're welcome! It just seemed like the perfect theme to bring back. It really has an amazing effect in the show, and I wanted it to be a continuous theme that comes back from time to time throughout the seasons.
  4. I hear ya. Here's your best bet: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Walking-Dead-Fans-cry-out-for-a-Soundtrack-Album/283650395045737?fref=ts
  5. Thanks! :)

i_hate_toolbars9 karma


Hey Bear, I'm a little late, hope you get around to answering this but I was wondering where you got the inspiration for using All along the watchtower for the cylon song. Was it the plan all along to use 1123 6536 5321 as the coordinates, or did that come up organically?

iambearmccreary25 karma

Ironically, very little of all that was planned from the beginning. No one knew when I arranged that song in Season 3 that it would be required to generate coordinates in Season 4. Perhaps I was guided by the lords of kobol? Because the melody I wrote to represent the final five and introduced in that arrangement happened to have exactly the number of digits necessary to create the coordinates. Spooky...

MickCollins7 karma

If somehow Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was to go back into production (or a sequel of some sort, a movie, webisodes, something) - would you be willing to go back to composing music for that series?

I loved the show and your music added so much to so many moments in the show.

iambearmccreary15 karma

In a heartbeat, no question. I truly miss writing music for that show. I still have so many variations of Sarah's Theme. if I had the time, I'd just produce a "Sarah Connor Season 3 Album" by itself!

DeadmanDexter7 karma

Bear, I've been a huge fan ever since I heard your stuff on Eureka (devastated when I found out it was cancelled), and have been following your work avidly ever since. Can we expect a soundtrack for Da Vinci's Demons and or Defiance? The composition for both is mind blowing. I'd love for them to be in my collection!

iambearmccreary11 karma

I actually founded a record label for exactly this purpose! Sparks and Shadows is a boutique label meant to bring you my scores as soon as possible. We've already released the Defiance Video Game Score: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/defiance-original-video-game/id627116362 and a single of the Main Title of Da Vinci's Demons: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=634543495 We're currently working on full albums for the Defiance TV series and Da Vinci's Demons. Both will be available digitally in the near future, with expanded CD collections due later. It's a very exciting time for me, being able to share all this new music with you guys!

FusionWeb7 karma

What are the chances you'll get to work on the score for Star Wars VII?

cube170121 karma

As great as Bear McCreary is, there would be mass fan outrage if it wasn't John Williams.

Although I think he could do wonders with a game, making a unique but still Star Wars-y soundtrack rather than emulating the film franchise like most games.

iambearmccreary43 karma

I will be outraged if JW doesn't do it. It's gotta be him.

Megachick6 karma

what's your favorite music genre to listen to when you wanna relax??

iambearmccreary24 karma

Relax? What's that?

5amHall6 karma

I've been playing Elegy on the piano obsessively for some time now but I'm a bit shy about posting a video of it. Would you encourage me to do so?

iambearmccreary9 karma

Go for it! Just know that you're not alone. It was a tough one! I played all summer doing our BSG Orchestra tour and I don't think I ever managed to get it perfect. So, just go for it! Send it to me :)

FYJ6 karma

Thank you very much for doing this AMA. I was wondering what show that you worked on has influence you and by extension your music, the most?

iambearmccreary14 karma

Hard to say. Every project changes me. Every piece of music I write changes me just a bit. I think, obviously, that "BSG" had a profound impact on me. Not just creatively, but professionally. It transitioned me from being an excited amateur to a young professional. That was amazing.

pisker5 karma

Whats the hardest part about making music?

iambearmccreary16 karma

Staring at the blank page or the blank screen. You've got a big uphill battle in front of you. But, its all worth it when you FINISH writing music. That's a wonderful feeling.

bshively5 karma

Now that you've started Sparks & Shadows, what can we expect from you? I know there's the Da Vinci's Demons music (which is so freaking amazing) and Defiance (which is all kinds of badass), but what about other things, like the long sought-after Walking Dead score or that odds-and-ends BSG CD you've mentioned?

Also, you're the best. I never get tired of your music and have listened to it more times than is healthy for me. I love you in a totally not creepy way... I think ;)

iambearmccreary3 karma

I'm hoping to bring you guys a bunch of great material through S&S. We're releasing my score to the science fiction feature "Europa Report" later this year. After that, there's a bunch of stuff on our plate. We're working overtime 24/7 right now to make a bunch of material available. I think fans will be very happy.

Travisepickren5 karma

Status on the The Walking Dead actual orchestra soundtracks by you? And also, what's the status on the Battlestar Galactica live dvd and is there any chance it'll be released in Blu Ray?

Thanks :) See you at Galacticon3!

iambearmccreary5 karma

Walking Dead soundtrack you mean? I know nothing of any AMC plans to ever do that. Your best is to sign up at this fan-made petition: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Walking-Dead-Fans-cry-out-for-a-Soundtrack-Album/283650395045737?fref=ts BSG live concert DVD... we're moving forward on this. Chances that you'll see that footage are looking much better these days. Stay tuned.

TheMonkeyBlade5 karma

What got you into wanting to make music?

iambearmccreary6 karma

Hearing film scores as a kid. I enjoyed music. I loved the movies. Suddenly realizzing that these two art forms met somewhere, that was very exciting. I was probably about five years old and I never looked back.

BClark095 karma

Hey Bear! First, I'd just like to say that I fraking love your music. I only started watching The Walking Dead because your name is attached to it...then I enjoyed the show after that.

Anyway, my question is this: what's the story behind the gorgeous piano you have in your Battlestar piano videos? It's certainly a different looking piano and I was just wondering if there was any story or significance behind it.

Oh, one more question: will there ever be sheet music for Temporal Distortion? I've been dying to get my hands on that ever since I first heard it.

iambearmccreary13 karma

Nice eye. Yeah, this is a beautiful old piano from the late 1800's. It's so old that it only has 85 keys, its from before 88 became standard. It was restored by a friend of mine and was a wedding gift. Raya and I set up our wedding registry to go towards the piano, where people could buy a key one a time. It has a great sound and a great look.

wpk9145 karma

If you had to name one inspiration over all others, could you? Who would it be?

iambearmccreary8 karma

This is extremely difficult. But, I might pick Jerry Goldsmith.

itchyfish4 karma

Hi Bear! Maybe a naive question but what's the process for creating a score? Do the producers/directors come to you and say "write us some music for a space show" and let you run with it, or is there a lot of back and forth during the creation process?

iambearmccreary7 karma

There's always a varying degree of back and forth. And its always best when you're collaborating with people who have either the vision to express their desires, or the trust to let you move forward with yours. Typically, most projects are somewhere between. But, I rely on producers' input to realize my own visions. Working with David S. Goyer on "Da Vinci's Demons" was one of those rare situations where getting notes always improved the cues. He was able to make suggestions, not in musical terms, but in emotional ones, that resulted in better music. That's a very fun situation!

BoomerDoomer4 karma

What pieces would you recommend for a Battlestar Galactica themed marching band show? As a percussionist, I simply adore the booming drums that you manage to time so perfectly with the on-screen action, and whenever I listen to pieces like "Prelude to War," I can't help but picture some arrangement for a marching band.

iambearmccreary5 karma

"Prelude to War" and "Storming New Caprica" FTW

ramstoria3 karma

Love your music. We used "The Shape of Things to Come" in our wedding. It went over very well. So thank you very much.

As for a question. What are you working on next? Could I cross my fingers that its Helix?

iambearmccreary3 karma


TheReaver883 karma

Can you compare the music between the "barn scene" in WD season 2 vs. "The Killer Within" from season 3? Both were super emotional scenes.

iambearmccreary9 karma

NO SPOILERS, but they were both immensely challenging. "Killer Within" took me a week. Not to score the whole episode... just that one scene. And it really depressed me. I had trouble sleeping. It was not fun. Totally worthwhile in the end, but the experience was very unpleasant.

cube17013 karma

Have you ever considered doing your own album, not related to a show/film/game? Similar to what composer Jeremy Soule is currently doing (and funded via Kickstarter).

iambearmccreary8 karma

I've got a ton of stuff in the works, yeah. But, I'm not really looking to get involved with Kickstarter at this moment.

bbbach3 karma

Bear McCreary! You have been an inspiration to me as a composer. Do you ever work with interns or work with a "team"?

iambearmccreary8 karma

I have an incrediby skilled team who help me do what I need to do. We have interns from time to time, usually from USC or Berklee...

gjcbs3 karma

Can you discuss your thoughts on the search for the Higgs-Boson particle at CERN and it's correlation to the rise in great musical scores for television series? Or just wax philosophical about how awesome it was to make music with Katee Sackhoff? :-)
Seriously, thanks for doing another AMA and for all the great work you share with us. Like many great works of art, it touches our soul.

iambearmccreary7 karma

The discovery of the Higgs is freakin' amazing. Was very stoked about that. :)

savvystrider3 karma

"Violence and Variations" from season 3 of BSG is my all-time favorite piece of music ever. Did you ever think during the beginning of the show that you'd get to do such an epic piece as that?

iambearmccreary7 karma

Not at all! At the beginning of the show, I was told there would be no themes and no orchestra ever! It was just minimal percussion and a few ethnic soloists. Slowly, during season 1, that expanded to include a small string orchestra. That group just got bigger and bigger until we had a full orchestra doing big sweeping themes at the end. It was a natural evolution.

BenjenGrimes3 karma

I really wanna see you perform live. How often do you do performances and will you ever be in Nashville? I mean it is music city and fairly close to ATL! Think about it ;)

iambearmccreary4 karma

We're working on correcting this injustice!

BatmanVsWild3 karma

Will you please oh please oh please come to Dragon*Con sometime? There is always a great presence of BSG actors, crew and fans. You are the only thing missing! It would be an ever bigger treat to get you to perform!

iambearmccreary4 karma

I would love to come to DragonCon. I hear its awesome. One of these years, I promise, I'll come out there!

christianpowell4163 karma

do you choose which songs are used on the show? if so, what is your process?

iambearmccreary4 karma

Sometimes, but rarely. that's almost never the job of a composer. In the case of "BSG," "Caprica" and occasionally "Defiance" I am heavily involved. In the case of "Trauma," "The Walking Dead" and other episodes of "Defiance," I have nothing to do with the selection of songs whatsoever.

redisforever3 karma

I don't watch any of the shows you work on, but my dad loves them, and plays the music almost constantly in the car. I love it, thanks for giving me some great stuff to listen to. Also, "Martial Law" is great.

iambearmccreary3 karma

Say hi to your dad for me, then! :)

TheShroomHermit3 karma

I've always thought that The Lost Room intro and The Walking Dead intro were very similar, at least visually. Do you pick up on any similarities, or am I coo-coo banana crumbs?

iambearmccreary3 karma

I can't say you're coo-coo banana crumbs, but I can't say you're not. I never saw the lost room, so I have no idea...

5amHall3 karma

How do you generally become involved in a project? Do the producers generally seek you out or is there some kind of auditioning process? Thanks :)

iambearmccreary11 karma

All of the above. Sometimes I'm brought in very early and I'm the top of the list. Other times, I'm asked to submit some music that might be similar to what they're looking for since producers are casting a wider net. It varies from project to project. Other times, as was the case with the "Angry Video Game Nerd Movie" I reached out to the filmmakers and said I wanted to work with them right from the get go.

Taramonia3 karma

Gaeta's Lament - haunting song and I love it any thought behind that song? Also did you write it with Mr Juliani singing it in mind?

iambearmccreary3 karma

I absolutely did. I worked closely with AJ and found his ideal vocal range. He's a very accomplished singer. It was a joy working with him.

virgilturtle3 karma

In the Walking Dead, during some tense scenes, there's a repeated sound similar to a brrrrt brrrrt brrrt...

I wanted to ask you about the tempo of that sound. It's a jarring tempo, perhaps because it's just a bit slower than a heartbeat. My mind expects that noise to be faster for some subconcious reason and, since it isn't, it does create an "at nerves end" sensation.

Just wondering if that was your intention or if I'm just imagining it. Thanks again for your great work on BG and TWD and I look forward to watching Da Vinci's Demons.

iambearmccreary5 karma

Wow, that's pretty much exactly what I was HOPING would happen when people heard that cue. thanks!

zectofrazer3 karma

In BSG, what is the name of that psychologically mesmerizing little beat in the off time signature that is played during the intro "The Cylons were created by men. They Rebelled." as well as the tense moments between Baltar and Number Six?

this is the thing I'm talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xti9O4yLu1k

iambearmccreary3 karma

That's the Number Six Theme, it was written by Richard Gibbs for the BSG Miniseries and remained an important component of the score for the rest of the series. I even quoted it again in "Blood and Chrome." It's a brilliant combination of timbre and rhythm that really gets stuck in your head. Richard struck gold with that one.

tonybsg3 karma

Hey Bear, congrats on your work. I'm a happy man having the three last BSG albums signed by you (I'd love to have had the rest as well :().

Anyhow, quick question, have you written the opening credits theme of Defiance?

iambearmccreary9 karma

Yup. If you want to hear an extended version of that, just check out the Defiance video game record, which has a great five-minute version of the theme: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/defiance-original-video-game/id627116362

matt2thepatt3 karma

Are there any composers you hope to collaborate with on future projects?

iambearmccreary7 karma

Yes, actually. We're looking for the right project to come along. ;)

Oracle7123 karma

Hey, Bear! Thanks for doing this AMA. Your scores are absolutely brilliant in every way.

1) Who were some of your inspirations growing up?

2) If you could, would you score for Ron Moore again ?

3) Your brother's vocals blew us away on your rendition of "All Along The Watchtower". What was the creative process like behind that?

4) Any major projects coming up that we should look out for?

5) When did you find out that you wanted to be composer ?

iambearmccreary9 karma

  1. Think I covered this somewhere
  2. Ron's an amazing producer, of course.
  3. That was a blast. My brother's voice was just perfect for that song and he has since been a featured singer, with his own original music, on "Caprica" and now "Defiance." you guys will hear one of his songs featured in a big way in a few episodes from now.
  4. Check out "Europa Report," this awesome feature I scored.
  5. I knew when I was about 5 years old and have strove for nothing else ever since. So, yeah...

iacceptthat3 karma

Bear! I am a composer in Los Angeles, trying to establish myself in the industry, and using the tools available to young up and comers, for me especially, are the MIDI string instruments such as Action Strings for Logic Pro. What are your thoughts on composers these days using MIDI instruments, specifically for strings and orchestral compositions?

iambearmccreary14 karma

Virtual instruments are a great way to communicate your ideas. But, they're a means, not the ends. I think spending too much time and energy dealing with them is counterproductive and prevents you from developing your own unique sound.

silentlyoutraged3 karma

First of all, thank you so much for the BSG score. "Kara Remembers" is easily my favorite track, but they're all fantastic and so perfectly evocative of the show and its characters! Just had to fangirl at you for a moment. :)

Second, what is that really cool necklace you're wearing in your proof shot? It looks like it could be related to Da Vinci's Demons somehow, and it looks interesting!

iambearmccreary8 karma

hey, thanks! It was made by an artist in Venice Beach, CA. It's from an old clock. Has a great steam-punk kind of vibe, but I also like that it comes from a clock. It reminds me that my job is about the control of time and how we percieve it.

5amHall3 karma

I think I remember you saying a while back that there will be a Caprica piano music book. Is that happening and if so when? Thanks.

iambearmccreary7 karma

It's on the backburner, but I'm hoping to do another piano book. The BSG one was very successful and I've enjoyed watching fans come back at me with YouTube videos of them playing it.

themedialies3 karma

Do you actually enjoy (watching) all of the projects you have worked on, or are there some that you honestly would not watch if you weren't involved?

iambearmccreary8 karma

I tend to only take on projects I'm excited about. So, I'm a fan of all the projects I've scored. To me, this is a passion, not just a job. I've been VERY fortunate to find myself in that position.

Rob_Saget3 karma

If I needed you to create a theme song about someone, would you take a commission?

iambearmccreary10 karma

Give me all the moniez. :)

ksanda2 karma

Hi, what is your favorite wake up music? And could you compose one for us?

iambearmccreary6 karma

I'll work on something right now. How about a Concerto for Chainsaw? I imagine that would wake you up in the morning. :)

Gravortz2 karma

Do you find it difficult to compose music that differentiates from your previous works? (I love your music so much!!)

iambearmccreary6 karma

Not really. When I'm working on "Battlestar Galactica" and "Eureka" its easy for them to sound different. Ditto for "Da Vinci's Demons" and "Walking Dead." I take on projects that allow me to explore new sounds. Doing all the Renaissance music in "Da Vinci's Demons" was a new experience for me.

MyBearHands2 karma

Hello Mr. Mcreary, first off, fantastic job on the Walking Dead! That soundtrack never fails to give me chills. I have a few questions,

  1. How did you end up in the soundtrack business?

  2. What is your favorite peice you've ever composed?

iambearmccreary4 karma

  1. Being a composer is all I've ever wanted to do. There really was nothing else for me. When I was five, film music first caught my ear and I was pretty trapped from that point onward. Luckily for me, I managed to carve out a living. Because there was no back up plan!
  2. Impossible to say. Probably the thing I'm working on next. :)

ContinuumGuy2 karma

What was the most unusual thing you've had to score?

iambearmccreary4 karma

There's a scene coming up in "Da Vinci's Demons" episode 6. I'm not going to spoil it. But, when you see it, you'll know it. When I scored this scene, I thought to myself "I never thought, in a million years, I would end up working on a scene depicting THIS". :)

codetrain2 karma

What future projects should we be on the lookout for?

iambearmccreary5 karma

I've got a feature coming out called "Europa Report." I believe its on VOD in June and theatrical in August. It's an amazing hard sci fi film. One of a kind.

There are a few others that I imagine you will find... exciting. Stay tuned for more information.

herbiehightimes2 karma

which composers are inspiring to you, and who would be good to listen to if I hope to someday be in your shoes?

iambearmccreary3 karma

Listen to the greats. Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Nino Rota. No one today (myself included) is doing anything near what these guys accomplished.

Eagle_Ear2 karma

I read somewhere that in the episode of BSG where Kara imagines her father playing the piano in the bar that they based the character on you.

Can you speak to that? The actor they used does seem to resemble you in photos.

iambearmccreary5 karma

You know, the character was based in part on me. I had long talks with the writers as they were coming up with his dialog. They even auditioned me for the role! Except it turns out I can't act at all. :) The guy who plays the role did an amazing job, and I was there on set to help the piano performances come together.

yeldog2 karma

I just want to say you're one of the reasons I'm still an avid pianist. After watching BSG with my housemates I got addicted and went to find your sheet music, I've now got most of the best ones saved somewhere. I'm said friend of person-who's-learning-the-duet, so I'm a student with a crappy keyboard in my room, your music along with einaudi's are the ones I play to escape, staring out of my window and imagining I'm going into space war... I massively miss my better-electric-piano. Do you play many instruments yourself and if so, what's your favorite + which is your favorite to compose for? Also do you have any books out for instruments other than piano (clarinetist/saxist/cellist/pianist represent ;))

iambearmccreary4 karma

I'm a pianist at heart, but I also am quite skilled at the accordion or so people tell me. Here's proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPu3XBSlJyk I also play the hurdy gurdy on my scores, especially on "Da Vinci's Demons." that's a lot of fun!


I don't have a question, but I just wanted to stop by and say that I think you are awesome. I am a former music major, and I really enjoy some of your compositions. I also had the privilege of interviewing you a couple of years back when SOCOM 4 launched. (I am a Co-Founder of TheRealSOCOM.com) But honestly, my favorite thing you have ever been a part of was the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert. Just pure awesomeness! Thank you for you inspiring works, and I look forward to what the future holds!

iambearmccreary4 karma

Yeah! We had a blast doing that Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. One of the best nights of my life. Those of you who missed out, I've got almost the entire concert up on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17E19864E2F803E4

mewithoutCthulhu2 karma

I'm at work, so I've gotta keep this short. Just wanted to state the fact that you shouldn't be listed as the composer in the shows you've done, rather, you should be listed as a credited character. Because you and your music play a key role in it.

Thank you for all the awesomeness.

iambearmccreary4 karma

Hey, thanks. I'll stick with 'Composer' for now. Or perhaps 'Hurdy Gurdy Specialist' in the case of "Da Vinci's Demons."

TheGPT4072 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this and I have one question. Please, Bear McCreary, how many more seasons of Walking dead will you bless upon man kind?

iambearmccreary5 karma

Millions. I hope that there are new episosdes of "The Walking Dead" being produced long after humanity has become extinct and cockroaches have evolved as the sentient, supreme animals of the planet.

Plus, that would be really good for syndication.

matt2thepatt2 karma

Is there any score you love so much you wished you'd composed it yourself? If so, what is it about that score you love so much?

iambearmccreary9 karma

There are so many scores I love, and that will always be a part of me. But, I don't wish I wrote them. Because then I wouldn't be able to simply listen and enjoy them!

TheCocoducks2 karma

Do you have any tips for those of us who are trying to get into the film/television scoring industry?

iambearmccreary7 karma

Love what you do. Do it whether you're getting paid or not. Write music because you can't do anything else. If you're honest with yourself and passionate, the rest will take care of itself. People will be able to tell you love your art and they will want to work with you as a result.

gjcbs2 karma

Are you in Florence right now(the pic)? Wow, what a cool place to do an AMA.

iambearmccreary4 karma

I wish! I just got back. But, I took the picture there when I was there playing the piano for the "Da Vinci's Demons" premiere. What an amazing experience!

BxGx3Kz2 karma

Hi Bear, BIG fan and thanks for doing this AMA! I do some indie film and docu scoring from time to time, and I was wondering what do you do when you really feel like a piece needs some more work but there's a limited budget? Do you go the extra mile "on the house", do you ask for more budget, or do you just let it go regardless of how you feel about the piece?

iambearmccreary3 karma

I never let something go if it doesn't live up to my standards. If a project doesn't have a big budget, I tailor my music to whatever they can afford. But, you should never allow yourself to get in a position where you write music intended for a big budget and then, by surprise, end up without one. Sometimes horrible things happen, its true, but you should always do your best to know what they have to work with and tailor your creativity to the constraints.

redroseplague2 karma

Don't have any questions for you, just here to show some support. I loved your sound tracks for Battlestar Galactica and love listening to them.

iambearmccreary6 karma

So Say We All!

KiloiC1 karma

Hey Bear, long time fan here. Loved the BSG stuff and the Sarah Connor scores were brilliant!

Anyway my question is would there be any chance you'd be willing to compose for the new Star Wars franchise?

Also, how did you become such an amazingly brilliant composer? What got you started and where did you go from there?

iambearmccreary9 karma

I think the composer should be John Williams for as long as he is willing and able.

AndNowIKnowWhy1 karma

I would like to congratulate you on your marvellous work! Ever since Battlestar Galactica your music accompanies quite a lot of my everyday life. I must admit it took me a little to realize why I liked the music so much and why it got so deeply under my skin. You once answered to a friend of mines e-mail who asked you about the specific origin of a certain sound and surprised him with an answer and the fact that you use quite odd gadgets as "instruments". Was this also the case for TWD, or is that more "traditional" composing work? What is the most "off" part in the series so far, from your point of view?

I congratulate you so much on your amazing work and your beautiful choices, the perfect pacing and your sensitivity when it comes to first class mindfuck movie material :-)

iambearmccreary7 karma

TWD is a mixture of the traditional and the bizarre. We use a small string orchestra (which creates that repeating pattern you hear leading into each Main Title sequence). But, I use distorted bluegrass instruments for the ambient and terrifying sounds. Most of the time that a zombie is on screen, the sound you're hearing is a distorted electric banjo!

AndNowIKnowWhy2 karma

I'll keep that in mind (I'm rewatching it with I friend I hooked on the series) watching the next episode..

It's so fitting to use a banjo! Watching it from far far europe I like the southern feel of the setting.

Is there a "Go-to-set" of scare or even zombie sounds in the composing industry? When my friends and I want to imply that something dangerous is is looming we immitate the shrieking violin sounds.

Did you add "new" ingredients to your personal set, or did you rather rearrange ideas and sounds you had before for the TWD dish?

iambearmccreary5 karma

And I'm always looking for new sounds as the series necessitates it. The Governor obviously created a new layer for the show, and as such, he needed a new kind of music.

iambearmccreary5 karma

There are tons of "go-to" scary sounds in film scoring. Those were the first things we eliminated when Frank Darabont and I started talking about the score for the show. I go out of my way to not fall back on those old tropes, because we're so familiar with them. They're not effecetive anymore.

mwilsmusic1 karma

What's it like working with the Calder Quartet for Da Vinci's Demons?

iambearmccreary6 karma

The Calder guys are absolutely amazing! I went to school with them all and its a wonderful experience to get back in the studio with them and work on a project as inspiring as "Da Vinci." Those of you who haven't seen my video blog about working with them, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi9USqQCSwU&list=UUUU2Z9O7Qw7PCT6fPN0yaHg&index=2

codetrain1 karma

Heard you directed a music video for Young Beautiful in a Hurry that's coming out soon? What are you thoughts on directing vs. composing? Are there more videos in the works?

iambearmccreary6 karma

Indeed I did! We're doing the video release party on May 11th in Los Angeles at Molly Malone's. Details here: http://youngbeautifulinahurry.com/dont-stop-me-now/ If you miss the show, we'll be posting the video online shortly thereafter. There are some awesome cameos in there too, including BSG's Aaron Douglas! We're working on a whole new set of videos to come out later this year. And I'm collaborating with the band on a song for a new timelaps video from Randy Halverson, for whom I wrote "Temporal Distortion" last year. So, a lot of stuff is in the works!

CitizenTed1 karma

Hi Bear. I live in Bellingham. Some of my friends went to school with you n' stuff.

My question: do you ever come back to the 'Ham? And if so, would you like to jam along with my cohorts in the totally un-famous gamelan band Monkey Puzzle Orchestra?

iambearmccreary8 karma

An un-famous gamelan band called "Monkey Puzzle Orchestra"?? You guys need an accordion player. Count me in!

CitizenTed3 karma

You're in! I'll even teach you the flowerpotaphone. It's my specialty.

iambearmccreary7 karma

Wow, now I'm REALLY curious. :)

mwilsmusic1 karma

Hi Bear! I love the music in Da Vinci's Demons. What's your favorite thing about composing the score for this show in particular?

iambearmccreary5 karma

"Da Vinci's Demons" is an amazing opportunity. Not only do I get to write lush, lyrical melodies and produce the score with a full orchestra, but I also get to explore Renaissance instrumentation and music. This is something I ignored in school and now I've gone back and done a lot of research. So, the score has made me a better composer and at the same time, pushed me to write what I think might be my best music yet.

dontuforgetaboutme231 karma


iambearmccreary8 karma

The handshake is an industry secret. I could show you, but then I'd have to kill you. Other than that, talent and hard work don't hurt.

luckyvb1 karma

where do you get the initial tunes to turn them into a piece. do they pop into your head?

iambearmccreary5 karma

I wish! I generally hammer away with melodies for a long time. It's the most important part of the process, so I spend a lot of time on it.

cube17011 karma

Are you able to give us more details on the Caprica album that will (hopefully) released this month? I recall reading that you were planning two discs.

Also, will there be a number of signed copies?

iambearmccreary5 karma

It's being mastered as we speak! It'll be a two-disc set featuring original score and songs from the all-too-short-lived series. I'm certain La La Land will do signed copies, but they move fast. Follow me or them on Twitter for exact release date info. I hope it'll be out this month.

cube17011 karma

With Defiance (love the game soundtrack and the TV series so far), it seems like you have a lot of control over the music. Do you choose the cool not-well-known covers of popular songs at the end of the last couple of episodes? Also, can we expect some moderation with those - I think having one at the end of every single episode would be bit too much.

And what is it like not only creating brand new songs, but songs made by aliens?

iambearmccreary3 karma

I have control over SOME of the songs. The Nirvana cover I had nothing to do with for example. But, the cover of "Ooh Child" this week was produced by me, and sung by Raya Yarbrough with whom I frequently collaborate. As the episodes progress, you'll hear about half the episodes end with a needledrop pop song and half end with a score or song cue that I did. And doing the alien band songs is amazing. What a challenge! I have to design alien sounds for instruments AND teach the singers to sing in these alien languages designed by David J. Peterson. It's a blast!

cube17011 karma

Whatever happened to Knights of Badassdom? It seems to have completely vanished off the radar.

If the film doesn't end up getting released, do you think there's a possibility that you can get permission to release the soundtrack through your record label?

iambearmccreary3 karma

Your guess is as good as mine. "Knights of Badassom" is an awesome movie, with a fantastic cast. And I dare say, a fantastic score. I had an incredible time scoring it and I'm a little confused as to why it didn't come out a year ago. I'm hopeful that the right thing will be done and you'll get the chance to see the film and hear my epic score one of these days...