The Music of Battlestar Gallactica

A Battlestar (the Battlestar Galactica) from the re-imagined series, flight pods retracted for FTL travel

Image via Wikipedia

I think many fans would agree that Battlestar Galactica, a remake from from the 1970s TV series, is one of the best shows, if not the best TV show ever produced. It is hard to beat a show like Battlestar Galactica with all the twists and turns that it has. Even though there are moments that are simply, trippy (I have no other way to describe it), the originality of the writing is often mind-boggling. In the past few months, my wife and I have literally been captivated by Battlestar Galactica, the hit TV series on the SciFi Channel. We started watching Battlestar about 9 months ago and have slowly but surely plugged our way watching all the first three seasons on DVD. After finishing the DVDs and catching up on our recorded episodes for the first part of the 4th season, we experienced the mid-season finale with the rest of Battlestar fans last Friday.

Besides the complex plot, one aspect of the show that has intrigued me is the musical score. Bear McCreary, the composer for Battlestar Galactica, has written a music score that adds to the shows intensity – like all good soundtracks should. McCreary has developed themes and rhythmic grooves that heighten dramatic moments and fuel action-filled sequences with terrific orchestration.

McCreary has a blog that describes the music he has written for Battlestar Galactica. It is fascinating to get inside a composer’s mindset and understand their compositional process. McCreary’s most recent post takes us through his journey of the score for Revelations, the mid-season finale for Season 4. (I am still trying to figure out what exactly is a mid-season finale. Anyone?) Not to give the whole plot away, but the series storyline is a journey to find Earth, the long lost colony, after an attack by an artificial race, Cylons, destroys their home world of Caprica. Earth isn’t just a hope to find a new home, but a place to preserve a way of life, a culture. Revelations is the moment of truth when Battlestar Galactica fleet reaches Earth, and the rest is supposed to be happily ever after. Not quite, hence the mid-season finale, with another 10-12 episodes to go starting January ’09.

Here is the first part of the Revelations, which includes the intros used throughout the series.  In addition, a summary is includes to give sense of the plotline:


There is an ongoing desire in an artist’s life to make artistic progress.  Unfortunately, an artist never really knows when that will happen. I find it interesting that a TV show stimulated McCreary musical creativity pushing him to craft a “masterpiece” that is rich, honest, and matches the mood of the episode.  McCreary mentions that Diasporo Oratorio is the work that pushed his compositional abilities, which is the music that guides the viewer towards the very end of the episode.  Prior to the final act, the music is carefully woven into the fabric of the storyline keeping the tension as answers are carefully revealed building tension into the final moment.  Instead of McCreary’s one day to compose the music for Revelations, it took three weeks for him to complete the writing process.

As I read through McCreary’s post and reminisced about Revelations, the episode builds with anticipation. As foes come together for a common cause, Diasporo enters creating a sense of euphoria and elation that builds towards the end.  The music is sutble, yet dramatic, with the last minute, the moment of truth, filled with silence as the realization that “happily ever after” still eludes the fleet.    Just as music can have a dramatic effect, so can silence – the element used brilliantly used to conclude the episode.  And, leaving fans, like myself drooling for more.

Here is the ending of Revelations:


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