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Battlestar Galactica (Series)
Album Cover Art
Season 1
Season 2
Album 2 Cover Art
Season 3
Album 3 Cover Art
Season 4
Album 4 Cover Art
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Bear McCreary

Co-Produced by:
Steve Kaplan

Co-Orchestrated by:
Brandon Roberts
Jeremy Levy

Additional Music by:
Richard Gibbs
Labels Icon
La-La Land Records
(Season 1)
(June 21st, 2005)

La-La Land Records
(Season 2)
(June 20th, 2006)

La-La Land Records
(Season 3)
(October 23rd, 2007)

La-La Land Records
(Season 4)
(July 28th, 2009)
Availability Icon
All of the albums are regular U.S. releases.
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Decorative Nonsense
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2004 Television Series

   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if, obviously, you have any affinity for the show, but also if you have long lamented the use of conservatively minimalistic, anonymous music in science fiction television shows in general and await an instrumentally creative and thematically cohesive alternative.

Avoid it... if you need a quick payoff, because Bear McCreary uses the combination of a plethora of character themes and an extremely diverse set of world instruments to form individual identities in Battlestar Galactica without relying upon one dominant, overarching theme.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 6/1/10
Battlestar Galactica (2004 Television Series): (Bear McCreary) For enthusiasts of the original Battlestar Galactica show on television in the late 1970's, the 2003 re-imagination of the concept was, despite some initial controversy in its alterations to certain aspects of the characters and story, a resounding victory. Having languished for so long in limbo, Battlestar Galactica was finally embraced by the Sci-Fi Channel and ultimately dominated its lineup in the late 2000's. Four seasons of 75 episodes depicting the war between humans and their mechanized Cylon creations contained all the fateful twists of betrayal and redemption that one would expect from a space opera, throwing religion, a bit of Terminator mythology, and even Earth's own history into the equation. Multiple "special event" features, web episodes, and a prequel spin-off show resulted from a phenomenon which received significant awards consideration through the years, usually in the technical fields related to sound and visual effects. Strangely, one aspect of the show that garnered nearly unanimous praise but never achieved success during the awards season was Bear McCreary's music. The composer had risen through the ranks of USC and studied under Elmer Bernstein, eventually supplementing the six years he spent on Battlestar Galactica with other television series work, as well as video games and low budget feature thrillers. McCreary had originally been an assistant to the more established Richard Gibbs for the 2003 mini-series that kicked off the resurrection of the concept, and Gibbs did score a few episodes in the first season before choosing to return to film scoring. Gibbs' original title theme and supplemental material, however, was used to augment McCreary's material in later episodes, extending all the way to the spin-off, Caprica. In part due to Gibbs' early departure and in part due to the fact that his output is by no means the flashiest or most enjoyable of the series, the mass of music to ultimately result for this show is often praised as the work of McCreary alone. And, all things considered, that's an appropriate distinction, for the music for Battlestar Galactica didn't seem to really impress the masses until the second season, by which point McCreary had really begun to evolve the style of the show's soundtracks into an attractive form that also translated into decent album presentations.

It's impossible to discuss the reasons for the immense popularity of McCreary's music for Battlestar Galactica without understanding where science fiction scores on television had recently come from. The era of John Williams' space opera extravaganza scores had directly informed Stu Phillips' music for the original series, and while that sound was still the expected norm for the genre on film, television series often couldn't afford such a luxury. The various Star Trek series of the 1980's through 2000's had enjoyed orchestral scores, though they were conceived and executed as purely vague background elements, switching between composers frequently and limiting the opportunity for overarching thematic continuity outside of a blazing title theme. Later on, you started hearing the genre utilizing stylistically unique music, from Babylon 5, Farscape, and Earth: Final Conflict to truly bizarre sideshows like Lexx. Instead of orchestral bombast, sci-fi and fantasy scores were employing exotic or synthetic music once again, partially as a result of limited budgets. In its beginning, the resurrected Battlestar Galactica franchise had its eyes on the same general idea, bucking once again the John Williams sound and doing so cost-effectively. Gibbs' 2003 mini-series was the clearest manifestation of that approach. As McCreary became entrenched in the franchise, he began slowly incorporating themes and soliciting funds from the Sci-Fi Channel for periodic orchestral recordings (still limited to small string and brass sections) that ultimately yielded the show's popular hybrid sound. There is some irony to the fact that by the end of the fourth season, and especially for the lengthy closing episode, McCreary's score is constructed much more like a melodramatic orchestral drama than the experimental collection of worldly (and otherworldly) sounds that defined the initial season. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of minimalism versus traditional orchestration, McCreary's work for Battlestar Galactica has created the same kind of cult following that Christopher Franke enjoyed with his distinctive Babylon 5 scores. And, for any enthusiast of those synthetic 1990's scores for the TNT show, rest assured that when Gibbs and McCreary set out to use unconventional instrumentation and structures for their Battlestar Galactica scores, their product is far more palatable than Evan H. Chen's unlistenable music for the B5 spin-off Crusade, a disaster that broke the hearts of many enthusiasts of Franke's style.

Despite successfully transcending the old space opera sound, McCreary perhaps inadvertently embraced a new set of sc-fi and fantasy cliches in the process of assigning stylistic identity to Battlestar Galactica. Both the use of a duduk and ethereal female vocal had been explored in Earth: Final Conflict, for instance, and the combined works of Graeme Revell and Brian Tyler for Sci-Fi Channel's own Dune adaptations had spanned nearly our entire planet's instrumental spectrum to adequately address an alien world. Even the Japanese taiko drums and their associated combination of rhythmic clicking and pounding has become somewhat commonplace, heard frequently, somewhat strangely, on the Discovery Channel's super-popular crab fishing show, "Deadliest Catch." Where McCreary manages to excel is not in the singular employment of such elements in ways to accent an ensemble the way Tyler or Mychael Danna would. Instead, he practically throws every regional instrument of any significance at the scores for Battlestar Galactica, using the taiko drums, Armenian duduk, Chinese erhu, Indian sitar, Uilleann pipes, Irish whistles, Balinese gamelans, among many others, along with a variety of ethnically fluent female vocals to augment the familiar Western tones of orchestral strings and brass. He doesn't skimp on the American electric instruments, either, lacing later seasons with guitars and violins of a distinctly abrasive, electronic edge. He crosses genres as well, moving beyond Gibbs' slightly electronica tone to eventually incorporate operatic classicism and even a touch of hard rock. There's material in these scores that has even been translated into a ballet. And, not unexpectedly, whenever you have specialty instruments and vocalists capable of conveying immensely personal beauty, there are inevitably spine-tingling moments of allure that some might consider guilty pleasures because of their somewhat undemanding constructs. Where the intelligence in McCreary's music easily eclipses most other television scores is in its thematic development, an aspect that gained it countless comparisons to Michael Giacchino's concurrent (and also highly acclaimed) music for Lost. In the first season of Battlestar Galactica, the show's producers decided to abandon their anti-thematic stance; McCreary had already been using various thematic and instrumental identities for various characters and that technique was eventually openly encouraged. That led to an abundance of themes for the show, including at least a dozen for specific characters and a few for general purposes of situational awareness.

The irony of all the remarkable success that the show enjoyed because of its music is that the Gibbs and McCreary collaboration ultimately suffered from one overwhelmingly disappointing weakness: the lack of a main thematic identity. There is an abundance of compelling, lovely, and interesting thematic development in Battlestar Galactica, but unfortunately none of that coordination resulted in a title theme as recognizable for casual listeners as Stu Phillip's original concept theme. The sum of McCreary's work therefore maintains all the descriptors that usually plague any collection of episodic scores. Great work overall, most agree, but lacking in the kind of cohesive arch or blatant identity to yield awards and grace concert halls for ages to come. Now, McCreary does have an arch to the overall collection of four seasons of music, despite some thematic elements left hanging without resolution here and there. But it's telling when you hear Phillip's theme adapted in the second season and then sending the fleet off in the final episode and recognize that its major key structure (which is vastly different from the completely bittersweet nature of practically everything McCreary wrote) is still the most instantly recognizable representation of the concept. In that aspect, the new Battlestar Galactica is the catnip of series fans rather than the mainstream population. Still, you can't underestimate the cult fanaticism of the fans of this show and their affection for the creativity and thematic continuity contained within its music. The La-La Land Records label has been among this group of devoted followers, supplying more than half a dozen albums of music from Sci-Fi Channel's (or "Syfy," as it ridiculously calls itself now) production for an eager fanbase. Starting with its release of the primarily Gibbs-scored mini-series in 2004, the label has offered one album per season (culminating in a double CD set for the final season) and pressed music from the two "special event" television films to date, as well as the Caprica spin-off. These CDs allowed McCreary to assemble the highlights of his best work for each season, ranging from one cue per singular episode to many. Sound quality is always consistently outstanding and the albums each contain relevant notes from the composer and producer about the particular music contained within (the season four CD, in fact, contains notes from damn near the entire cast and crew). For fans who want even more information about these scores, McCreary, in a style once pioneered by John Ottman, has published notes about each episodic work on his blog, a rare glimpse into the intriguing details of these compositions.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.4 Stars
***** 102 5 Stars
**** 67 4 Stars
*** 49 3 Stars
** 42 2 Stars
* 52 1 Stars
  (View results for all titles)

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A friendly disagreement with regards to the Season 1
Tritium - June 16, 2013, at 5:07 p.m.
1 comment  (883 views)
Chris N. - August 17, 2010, at 8:49 p.m.
1 comment  (1516 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Season 1 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 78:31
• 1. Prologue (0:38)
• 2. Main Title (US Version) (1:02)
• 3. Helo Chase (1:29)
• 4. The Olympic Carrier (5:29)
• 5. Helo Rescued (0:59)
• 6. A Good Lighter (1:52)
• 7. The Thousandth Landing (3:04)
• 8. Two Funerals (3:22)
• 9. Starbuck Takes on All Eight (3:44)
• 10. Forgiven (1:28)
• 11. The Card Game (3:01)
• 12. Starbuck on the Red Moon (1:58)
• 13. Helo in the Warehouse (1:59)
• 14. Baltar Speaks with Adama (1:52)
• 15. Two Boomers (1:46)
• 16. Battlestar Operatica (2:33)
• 17. The Dinner Party (3:12)
• 18. Battlestar Muzaktica (1:41)
• 19. Baltar Panics (1:44)
• 20. Boomer Flees (1:14)
• 21. Flesh and Bone (4:04)
• 22. Battle on the Asteroid (6:50)
• 23. Wander My Friends (2:55)
• 24. Passacaglia (5:13)
• 25. Kobol's Last Gleaming (2:47)
• 26. Destiny (4:42)
• 27. The Shape of Things to Come (2:53)
• 28. Bloodshed (1:46)
• 29. Re-Cap (0:34)
• 30. Main Title (UK Version) (1:06)
Season 2 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 78:51
Season 3 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 78:51
Season 4 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 137:02

Notes Icon
The inserts of all the albums include insightful information from the director and/or composer. The Season 4 album also contains extensive notes about the music from nearly the entire cast and crew of the series.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Battlestar Galactica (Series) are Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, La-La Land Records (Season 1), La-La Land Records (Season 2), La-La Land Records (Season 3), La-La Land Records (Season 4) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/1/10 (and not updated significantly since).
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