Composer Bear McCreary is known mainly for his work on popular TV series such as the re boot of BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA, OUTLANDER and of course THE WALKING DEAD. His music is innovative and original with the composer often fusing electronic elements with that of a more conventional symphonic line up to fashion and create surprising and positive results. His music for the show THE WALKING DEAD has become an important and highly integral component of the long running series, and it is true to say that THE WALKING DEAD without the music of McCreary would definitely not be the same. Right from the start, the score begins to conjure up an atmosphere and mood that is to say the least unsettling, as soon as one hears those opening bars of the central theme, a sense of tension, danger and chaos, begins to manifest itself. McCreary’s driving and mesmerising strings drawing the viewer into an uncertain and foreboding world filled with walkers and other even more virulent individuals who delight in causing pain and distress. The main titles theme actually begins to play before any titles appear on screen, so McCreary’s repeating sinewy motif for strings announces that an episode is about to start, thus the viewer is hooked even before any images appear.
Given the gory and violent subject matter of THE WALKING DEAD one would not think that the composer would not have any time for romantic or soft toned themes, but there is within the scores for the series a number of haunting and beautiful tone poems, these although few and far between certainly make their presence felt at key points within the series, at times the composer utilising a softer approach to underline a moment of violence, so that when it happens it is even more shocking and impacting upon watching audiences, simply because subconsciously they are not expecting it, the music has not pre-warned them, but just the opposite has lulled them into a false sense of security. The less atonal action cues are also used to great effect within the series to highlight the desperation and the isolation of certain characters, as in the melancholy infused cue, SOPHIA, which although superbly rich and lush is also tinged with traces of apprehension and nervous tension.
McCreary’s music is superbly orchestrated throughout the series, sometimes the composer introducing instruments or sounds that would not ordinarily be combined in conventional scoring, but when he merges them they seem to fuse with consummate ease. The composer’s musical talent and prowess shines through on each outing, with both symphonic and electronic elements intertwining to create powerful and memorable musical statements and moments, which not only underline, punctuate and support the action, drama and desperation, but also can stand alone away from the images and scenarios as just music to be listened to.
There are also several scenes and sequences within the series that are un-scored, where there is no music, and this too is a sign of a talented composer. Knowing when not to swamp a scene in music is just as important as supporting it with a score, thus allowing the images, action or dialogue to create the drama and impact. McCreary, is not only talented and innovative, but is a composer that for me constantly experiments with sounds and instrumentation, whilst at the same time re-invents his style and sound, which means he remains fresh and original.
Bear McCreary, was born in Fort Lauderdale Florida, on February 17th, 1979. His Mother Laura Kalpakian, is an accomplished author and his Father Jay McCreary, is a professor based at the University of Hawaii. The composers Brother Brendan is also involved in music and they often collaborate, and in the early days Bear often directed and produced videos of Brendan’s band Young Beautiful in a Hurry. Bear graduated from Bellingham High School in 1997, and then went on to study music at Thornton School of Music and The University of Southern California, gaining a degree in composition and recording arts. He is a classically trained pianist and taught himself to play other instruments such as the Accordion. McCreary studied under the iconic film music composer Elmer Bernstein, and at times one can hear certain nuances and phrases that evoke the great composers style and works. It was McCreary who worked with Bernstein on the re-construction and reworking of the orchestration for the 1963 film score KINGS OF THE SUN, the fruits of their labours allowing the full score to be released on a recording for the first time in forty years, much to the delight of hundreds of devoted Bernstein fans.
In 2003 the composer worked under the guidance of composer Richard Gibbs on the reboot of BATTLESTAR GALLATICA for TV, the three hour mini series acted as a pilot for a planned series and when the show was selected for screening composer Gibbs found that he could not dedicate his full attention to scoring it, it was at this point that McCreary was asked to become the composer on the series. McCreary stayed with the series for six years scoring over 70 episodes, his music is featured on six soundtrack albums that were released by LA LA LAND records, which have received much critical acclaim and are held in high regard by fans of the composer and series, in fact the soundtracks for seasons 2 and 3 of the series attained the title of top selling soundtracks in Amazons top 30 music sales on their first days of release. The composer also provided the score for CAPRICA, a prequel spin off from the Battlestar Gallactica series.
McCreary, has worked on numerous TV series, these include THE CAPE, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and HUMAN TARGET, the latter going down in history for having the largest orchestra ever utilised for a television score, and it was for his work on this series that garnered the composer his first Emmy nomination, however when the series was aired new in 2010 the producers did not ask him to return as composer. It was also in 2010 that the composer made his feature film score debut on STEP UP 3D, since then he has scored movies such as KNIGHTS OF BADDASSOM, THE BOY, COLOSSAL, REBEL IN THE RYE, EVERLY, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and HAPPY DEATH DAY, as well as working on a handful of direct to video/DVD features which include, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END, REST STOP and REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK.
His most recent movie scoring assignment is THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX which contains an epic sounding score for full orchestra. Whichever way you look at it, the music of Bear McCreary has made an impact upon the world of TV and Cinema, whether it be via his threatening and uneasy themes for THE WALKING DEAD or his powerful music for THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX or indeed his Barry-esque, poignant and melodic work on REBEL IN THE RYE, McCreary is HEAR to stay. Which is something I am rather pleased about.