Hi y'all! I'm Jeremy Zuckerman. I currently compose the music for The Legend of Korra. Ask me anything!

The Legend of Korra soundtrack is #1 on Amazon! Buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Legend-Korra-Original-Music/dp/B00D6I7EMU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374001054&sr=8-1&keywords=the+legend+of+korra+original+music+from+book+one

or get it on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/legend-korra-original-music/id666000012

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.zuckerman.music | https://www.facebook.com/thetrackteam

twitter: https://twitter.com/JeremyZuckerman | https://twitter.com/thetrackteam#

[EDIT]i'll be signing Korra soundtrack CD's this Saturday from 3-4 at the Nickelodeon booth at Comic Con. hope to see you there![/EDIT]

Comments: 858 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

kbruno711780 karma

Thank you for doing this Mr. Zuckerman, but we need to get down to business, the OST for the original Avatar: The Last Airbender. We all want it, you have it. If the Legend of Korra OST sells well, will there be a plan to revisit it? It is beautiful music and deserves to be released at least as a download. By the way, my copy of the Korra OST just arrived and it is amazing!

jeremyzuckerman874 karma

yes, if the LOK soundtrack sells well there is a much better chance of the A:TLA soundtrack being released. but everyone will have to patient as it will take a ton of work. we'll have to resurrect all the old sessions which were composed on old computers with obsolete software! would want to re-record some things, too. it will be a big project but i REALLY hope it happens.

sbeoxoyb306 karma

Who's your favorite A:TLA or LoK character?

jeremyzuckerman1231 karma

Uncle Iroh.

lorz_flanto418 karma

The Basing-Se episode was incredibly sad. What is it like to actually write the music to something that emotional? Any feelings toward Iroh and the loss of his son?

jeremyzuckerman882 karma

i totally cried

ObbyDent230 karma

What is your favorite piece from the original show and Korra?

jeremyzuckerman300 karma

I'm kinda partial to 'hardboiled...afraid'. it's very simple but hits me in the feels. lots of room for the erhu in that one. also fond of the end credits and korra's theme

Jinumon170 karma

What single piece from A:TLA or LoK are you most proud of?

As one who usually composes using MIDI files, what was the composing and recording of the A:TLA Finale like, using the live orchestra in it's place?

Leaves from the Vine is one of the most iconic pieces from the show. What inspired you to create such a mournful song, and does it have additional verses?

jeremyzuckerman232 karma

wow that's hard. i'll stick to A:TLA since i sort of answered this re LOK above. i really am proud of the whole finale score. that was my best work IMO though i'm sure many of you guys have other faves (which is so interesting). 'peace' is probably the most cohesive piece of music (it's been performed a couple times by HS orchestras). really like the blue spirit and tsungi horn stuff, too. but i know there are cues i'm forgetting about now. so much music has been written since then.

LeMeJustBeingAwesome102 karma

Peace is the best piece of music of the twenty-first century.

PerpetualFunkMachine34 karma

A friend of mine just passed away suddenly yesterday and this song was so powerful... I just don't have words for it. Thank you.

jeremyzuckerman11 karma

Sorry for your loss. :(

jeremyzuckerman166 karma

hey guys! so good to talk to you. it's been a blast. gotta go back to work now. sorry i couldn't answer everyone but i'll check in a bit over the next day or two and try to answer as time allows.

now, um...go buy this!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Legend-Korra-Original-Music/dp/B00D6I7EMU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374006615&sr=8-1&keywords=the+legend+of+korra+original or on iTunes! https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/legend-korra-original-music/id666000012

MagentaRanger122 karma

How long does it usually take to compose a song for the show?

jeremyzuckerman201 karma

i get about 4-5 days. i always want more!

tubular145091 karma

Hello, Mr. Zuckerman!

Firstly, I want to take this opportunity to tell you how incredible your work on both Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra has been and how much I absolutely love it! You've given me many great tracks to listen to over...and over...and over again.

As for my question, I was wondering if there were any other composers that either inspired you to follow in their line of work or that continue to inspire you today. Or are there any film or television scores today that particularly stand out to you?

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this AMA and I can't wait to hear more of your work in Avatar and elsewhere!

jeremyzuckerman117 karma

first, thanks for the kind words! ...to be honest, i'm finally getting into film composers. i listen more to weird, esoteric stuff (takemitsu - who did also do film - berio, trevor wishart) and ravel is one of my faves. i really enjoy composers who look at more than pitches and rhythm. people who approach composition from a sonic POV. thinking about texture, gesture, etc. i think that informs me. in the beginning, it was harder to not be coming from the scoring world but i think it has become sort of an advantage.

TheFruitPunch75 karma

Hello sir

I preordered The Legend of Korra OST day one and I have to say I simply LOVE your work and I love you too.

I'd love to know some more context about Zuko and Azula's Agni Kai background music.

The first time I watched the scene it just gave me goosebumps from head to toe over how calm and sad it sounded yet how good it matched with the incredibly violent scene full of brother/sister hatred and her craziness and all that nasty business. Still my favorite scene and music of the whole TLA/Korra show.

jeremyzuckerman113 karma

thanks! the piece you're talking about is 'the last agni kai'. we knew we wanted to support the sadness in that fight rather than the action. at the mix, as an experiment we filtered down the sound design and put it way behind the music. that was really effective and i think a big part of why the cue works so well in that context.

fdgero60 karma

Hello, Mr. Zuckerman. I've really enjoyed your soundtracks to Avatar and Korra.

  1. I saw this video of the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra performing "Peace". Is it possible that sheet music of your compositions will become available in the future, and might there be more such performances?

  2. I'm often amazed how seamlessly soundtracks are integrated into film or television, especially with animation. How close is your collaboration with the animation team, and what comes first, the music or the animation?

  3. Is a specific instrument or musician in mind when you compose? For example, when writing the Blue Spirit theme, did you know you wanted to use the duduk from the start?

jeremyzuckerman69 karma

Thanks! 1. i sure hope so. nick owns the copyrights so it's not as simple as just giving it out but we might be able to work with them to make this happen.

  1. :) first is the animation and VO. then ben and i get it and he does the sound design and i the music. before we start, we have what's called a spotting session where we meet with bryan k and mike d to meticulously go through the episode. we discuss the narratives, shifts, where music enters, exits, how it functions, when there's silence and why, etc. it's something that has getting much clearer over the years but was a bit of a mystery in the beginning. the way the music functions it what's unique about scoring vs other forms of composing. i've really grown to enjoy that aspect. to make it a good piece and function correctly can be like an insane puzzle sometimes.

jeremyzuckerman66 karma

sorry, the format got weird.

  1. definitely compose with the instrumentation in mind. interesting that you ask about the blue spirit. that was 100% bryan k's idea to use a duduk. he has some fantastic ideas. another was to make 'before' (the backstory of the brothers in LOK) a duet. the cello representing noatak and the erhu tarrlok

MissFluff47 karma

How do you feel about musicians recording your music versus using midis and other electronic music?

jeremyzuckerman64 karma

hugely flattering! so sweet and inspires me.

qaysakhtar45 karma

Is the soundtrack for Season 2 going to be similar to the first Season or did you take a different direction?

jeremyzuckerman76 karma

def some new ideas. i want it to be a surprise but 4 eps in and i felt like we already had enough for a new soundtrack!

PathofTotality43 karma

Since you compose music, I'm sure you listen to a lot of music. So I'm curious to know what kind of music you like to listen to. (Bands, singer, genre etc.)

jeremyzuckerman91 karma

i sort of answered this earlier but i should add so i don't paint myself as a total nerd. i like sigur ros, bjork, the national, acey alone, meshuggah, miles davis, coltrane, antibalas, radiohead, james brown, etc... new composers i like: nico muhly, john luther adams, bear mccreary, austin wintry... hard to remember them all right now. unfortunately i don't get a lot of time to listen to music. :(

jeremyzuckerman46 karma

i spelled austin wintory wrong. sorry...

pink_ds7 karma

Please tell me you know some Imogen Heap! I think the two of you would get along quite well,

jeremyzuckerman3 karma

we have mutual friends. she's rad!

ChaosZeroX41 karma

Would you ever do Video games at some point in your career?

jeremyzuckerman52 karma

def if the opportunity arises!

FawnDeer38 karma

Hi Jeremy and fellow ATLA/LoK fans,

I decided to jot down a few things I was curious about, (answer as many as you like Mr. Zuckerman) and everyone is welcome to share their own answers as well :)

What has been your favorite score to write so far? What instrument did you learn to play first? What was your favorite instrument to learn how to play? Do you have any advice for people who've just started learning to play an instrument? Do you get “writer’s block”? If so, how do you deal with it? If you could, what element would you want to bend?

Thanks for your time, FawnDeer

P.S. birdguy had to be on a plane today, so I offered to relay his question:

“Hi Jeremy! The music in Avatar is one of the elements I have enjoyed most in the show (I would love to see a soundtrack!). Thanks for doing an AMA!

“What was your inspiration for creating the sound of the Tsungi horn? From what I remember on a commentary track, it's not a single instrument but an amalgamation of many others. Can you explain what goes into the sound?”

jeremyzuckerman52 karma

re the writer's block, i'm definitely not inspired all the time. sometimes it's downright PAINFUL. but i don't have the luxury of not writing. the best inspiration is the deadline. the closer it gets, the faster i write. one thing that i've figured out over the years is to conserve and develop ideas. that can be really fun and challenging to see how far a simple idea can go.

Cali4Ya38 karma

How was it working with Mako?

jeremyzuckerman66 karma

i never get to meet the actors, though i did meet janet varney and think she's awesome. i wish i could meet more. over time i become a big fan... wish i had mako. what an icon.

SNCommand30 karma

Is there any particular movie, television show or video game you wish you could have composed the soundtrack for?

jeremyzuckerman41 karma

'the killing' is one! love dave porter's approach on 'breaking bad'. with my computer music bg (ben, too!), it would be great to do something like that.

MightyGreek25 karma

When is the show back?

jeremyzuckerman63 karma

if i told you i'd have to...

applesandnarwhals23 karma

How would an aspiring musician get involved in soundtrack production? In school we're trained how to audition and network for symphony orchestras or military bands but no one ever discusses career options within the television/movie music field...

jeremyzuckerman39 karma

step one: study and write! step two: move to la! step three: meet people around your age who are starting to make work. established directors almost always have composer they work with already.

tspcapacity23 karma

How do you go about choosing the specific instruments you use in your music? Is it a matter of specific tones you're looking for, familiarity with them, personal preference?

jeremyzuckerman36 karma

i start with feeling. always... then the left brain kicks in. it's a full brain thing really. but i get the ideas based on what's going in the story, the character, the visuals, etc. i really try to feel it like an actor would. then it becomes very clear what needs to happen. when i can't feel it - for whatever reason - i struggle!

LeMeJustBeingAwesome20 karma

Let's get the most obvious question out of the way: Will their ever be a soundtrack for A:TLA? If so, when?

Beyond that I have a few questions:

  • Given the focus on spiritual themes in Book Two rather than cultural/political ones in Book One and the setting being less centered on Republic City (at least from what has been leaked thus far), how will that affect the music?

  • Thus far you've integrated Asian, Jazz, Classical and other influences into the soundtracks. Any other unexpected surprises in the future?

  • What about future projects? What type of stuff do you see yourself doing after Legend of Korra?

Also, just wanted to say you're the greatest soundtrack composer of our time. The jazz-influence in LOK was brilliantly integrated, and it was as emotionally influential and captured the intricacies of the show. Also want to thank you for that masterpiece that is Peace. Keep it up!

Edit: And what composers/pieces have inspired you the most?

jeremyzuckerman34 karma

wow! thank you so much. you really know how to get a question answered. ;)

  1. i try to do whatever is appropriate. so it's kinda hard to talk about without giving anything away about book 2. there's definitely some new instrumentation, plenty of new compositional ideas... also emotionally quite different i think

  2. there might be a military band organ piece (shhh...). some more jazz stuff, too but not quite as much since the mood is quite different

  3. i would love to do some live action. looks like something really exciting is in the works. should result in the opportunity to make some lush, beautiful music...hopefully with orchestra

Rex1us17 karma

How much freedom did you get from Bryke?

How much freedom did you get from Nickelodeon?

Were there times that you composed something, and you had to delete it, because other people didn't like it?

jeremyzuckerman24 karma

at this point i get near carte blanche. it's amazing! there haven't been very many cues for LOK that have been rejected (can't think of any actually). for A:TLA there were a few here or there. it's more adding music where there isn't any or supporting a moment that wasn't initially supported.

Jeff685117 karma

I am a very big fan of both series (TLA is my favorite show ever) and your work. I often try to find pieces from the original series on YouTube to listen to them. One of my favorites is the song Iroh plays on the Tsungi horn in the final scene of the show at the Jasmine Dragon. I have no idea what the title of the song is and after much searching I have come up empty. Does this song have a title? Is there anyway you could put it up for download or even put it somewhere where we can listen to it?

jeremyzuckerman28 karma

thanks! i like that one, too. it doesn't really have a title (yet). many of the titles are fan created, btw...

skotein16 karma

Where did you come up with the idea of combining elements of traditional Chinese music/instruments with old timey jazz? Also, I noticed you have a live orchestra and players on the soundtrack for Korra! Were there any live players on The Last Airbender OST, and if so, how does working on Korra's score compare to A:TLA's score?

jeremyzuckerman27 karma

the jazz thing was bryan's idea. i think the setting came first and it led to the musical idea... working with live players is about 1000.652 times more inspiring and exciting for me. seriously, i can't imagine going back at this point. they bring so much to the table. writing for MIDI is so limiting. with live players i can do things that don't exist in the MIDI world. things that go beyond melody, harmony, etc.

Octogonologist11 karma

Just wanted to say that your music is fantastic, and consistently gives me goosebumps when listening to it. Be proud of your work.

My question is, how did/do you find out about all the unique instruments used in your compositions? The Tsungi horn track is one of my favorites from the A:TLA soundtrack, and its unique instrumentation is a prime contributing factor in its memorability. Thanks!

jeremyzuckerman13 karma

thank you! ben (wynn) and i went to calArts. they have an amazing 'world' music program. was exposed to a lot there and continued researching for A:TLA. then i met hong wang (performs all chinese instruments on LOK) and he taught me a ton. there is no one like him

opello10 karma

Just here to say "Thanks!" and read the replies, while listening to the Korra Book 1 CD.

jeremyzuckerman12 karma


perfectlemonade9 karma

Are you excited for the next season of Korra?

jeremyzuckerman18 karma

i can't wait for you guys to see/hear it!

ChrisGarrett9 karma

How would somebody go about contacting you to compose a song? You're music is beyond amazing, it was the core of 'The Legend of Korra'

jeremyzuckerman15 karma

thank you! you can send me an email via thetrackteam.com or jeremyzuckerman.com. i'll get it...

radio-fish8 karma

Don't have a question, just wanna say thank you for your work.

jeremyzuckerman10 karma

thank you!

AdminAvatar8 karma

My favorite track you composed is by far the Peace track played at the end of the finale in ATLA. Where did the inspiration come from? I used to obsessively listen to it because it contained a beauty I've never been exposed to.

If you could enlighten me about the creative process behind that track, that would be wonderful. And thanks for all your hard work on the series, Avatar honestly wouldn't be the same without the music.

You guys are a HUGE reason why we fans love Avatar so much!

jeremyzuckerman19 karma

thanks! i remember really experiencing the feeling of letting go of all those characters and the experience of ATLA writing that. it was actually a really emotional experience. i may have tearbent a little. the creative process was pretty similar to the rest of the series. sitting in my studio at the computer and working it out while looking for opportunities to incorporate and sum up themes.

irishsaints7 karma


Edit: Also..umm.....Any news on Avatar soundtrack yet?

jeremyzuckerman17 karma

:) no news yet. buy the korra soundtrack though! that'll help the chances!

DesolationRow6 karma

Did you have anything to do with the amazing Nomad song "Secret Tunnel" and if you did ... Can I buy you a beer?

jeremyzuckerman5 karma

i'll split the beer with mike d. he wrote the lyrics and i set it to music.

SpiffyShindigs6 karma

When you're creating a leitmotif for a character, what kind of a process is that? There are so many great character themes in the show (The Avatar's, Azula's, Iroh's, The Blue Spirit's), which were your favorites, and which did you struggle with?

jeremyzuckerman12 karma

most of the themes are melody/harmony based with a specific instrumentation. occasional it's more about texture and instrumentation (ala Amon's theme). so it depends. but it starts with me feeling the situation. i have to get into it like an actor i guess. then i find musical ideas which are an attempt to express the feeling...

sshafer16 karma

Hello, first I love the soundtracks from both The last Airbender and Legend of Korra. What I really loved the most was the music for the ending credits of The last Airbender. With all the crazy drums and men making noises and long flute type sounds. Sorry :/ I'm no music expert and don't know what all these things are called. Where did you get that music from or the inspiration for it? And where can I get more like it? I absolutely love it Thanks

jeremyzuckerman10 karma

thanks! i like that, too. the vocal stuff was inspired by the balinese kecak chanting. ben's idea! then we layered tons of percussion and random things we had lying around the studio. at the time i was way into extended vocal techniques (me and 3 other people...ha) and we sort of went to town with weird vocalizations. we made that for the pilot. was fun...

Chunkedina966 karma

First off, I'd like to say you are one of my top favorite composers of all time. Your music you make never gets old. I truly appreciate it. I wanted to ask you what motivates you to make new music? How long have you been in the music making business? Is there any possible way for anyone to purchase the scores from either ATLA or LOK? The reason I ask is because I'd do anything to get the chance to be able to play and see your music. Also I really do appreciate you answering these questions. You're truly someone I look up to. Thanks for the soundtrack and I can't wait to hear your music in season 2. It's truly inspirational.

jeremyzuckerman16 karma

aw, thanks! what motivates? the deadline! haha. sometimes, always when i'm away from the studio - which isn't enough - i get hit with a strong emotion accompanied by an idea. it could be a phrase or a mental image or a philosophical idea. then i try to find a musical metaphor. i love those moments! they don't happen all that often though. often, i have to sit with something and push through hours of procrastination and fear! haha. when i put enough work in, things happen...

tspcapacity4 karma

How was it to compose the bold vibrance of LoK's jazz pieces (with Asian flair of course) in comparison to the more dramatic and epic pieces in LoK and AtLA? Was it difficult, or different, or neither?

jeremyzuckerman12 karma

it's a great balance and another brilliant idea of bryan and mike's. they often have fantastic concepts... the process was great. i wrote the charts and had a dixieland ensemble perform them. all recorded live with all the improvisational tradition. they KILLED it. i was sitting in the room during the session going out of my mind. so exciting...

LilBoyFish4 karma

What is your favorite key to compose in and why?

jeremyzuckerman4 karma

i don't really have a fave key but the chinese instruments impose some limitations. C,D,F and G (and there respective modes) are best. also if i want to use open strings with the string instruments i have to take that into consideration. so it's more of a practical concern.