They don’t get any bigger than this!
“Exodus, Part II” is epic enough to be a season finale. Hell, even a SERIES finale would be lucky to get an episode this jam-packed with frantic battle sequences and powerful story resolutions. But no, on Battlestar Galactica, we’ll do it on episode FOUR just to keep you on your toes.
Bear conducts “Exodus, Part II” at the Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage
The score for “Exodus, Part II” needed to not only measure up to the extremely high standards set by the writing, acting, visual and sound effects and directing, but also needed to shape and guide the drama towards the emotional pay off at the end. This score was the culmination of the first three shows of season three, and had to surpass them all in dramatic impact and scope.
Even before scoring “Occupation” and “Precipice,” I knew this episode was coming down the pipe. I decided very early that I wanted to take the action music into new territory. After all, the New Caprica storyline itself served as a way to shake things up and re-invent the elements of the show we are so familiar with. Why should the music remain unchanged?
M.B. Gordy plays taikos for the big battle cues
Knowing that a big battle episode was on the horizon, I spent the early part of last summer researching traditional Chinese and Japanese music. I recently began to feel that my action cues, while always exciting, still retained a military, almost classical form that rooted them in traditional Western styles (“Prelude to War” from the Season 2 soundtrack being a prime example). I virtually discarded all of the rhythmic ideas that I had developed up to this point in favor of a more frantic and energetic taiko sound.
The carefully calculated “military” beats gave way to bombastic asian rhythms, with more personality and character than my previous percussion work. I also threw in the Great Highland Pipes (a reference back to “Hand of God” where I first introduced bagpipes during a battle sequence) and the full string orchestra we recorded at the Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage. The result is, in my admittedly biased opinion, the most kick ass action cue I’ve ever written.
This cue must have been really fast!
However, out of dramatic necessity, Daniel Colman’s outstanding sound design elements take the foreground for the majority of the battle scenes. But the drums are there, helping to propel the action forward… and you guys will love it on the album!
Thankfully, not every scene was a bombastic aerial combat sequence (though it sure felt like it at times), and there were some places that the music could really shine. Two cues in particular stood out as remarkably rewarding creative challenges.
The first was the death scene in act one. This was easily the most difficult cue for me to compose in the entire series thus far. Every time I thought I had it, I’d come back and listen to it a half hour later and hate it. The music had to walk a fine line of moving the drama forward without banging you over the head. At the same time, I had to hold back with simple repetitious phrases to maintain the awkward tension throughout.
The orchestra records “Refugees Return”
If I had to pick a personal favorite cue that I’ve done for Battlestar it would be in the fourth act of this episode when the refugees return to Galactica. Scored for string orchestra, this piece plays against the jubilant celebration of the hangar deck and instead underscores the dark transformation of Col. Tigh and Starbuck. Their bodies have returned, but their souls may have been left behind on the planet. This scene is among the most powerful in the series and it was a thrill to have the live orchestra for this moving piece.
The cue continues into the next scene with Roslin, and a Japanese bansuri sneaks in playing her theme. Keen listeners will notice that this theme is an instrumental version of the melody sung in Armenian at the very beginning of “Occupation.” I wrote this as a way to bookend the New Caprica story line, in the same spirit as when “Allegro” from “Home, Part II” bookended the Kobol storyline.
Don’t steal this mic. They’ll know where you got it.
Rest assured that the fault lines of the New Caprica storyline run deep and will have a major impact on the rest of Season 3. Likewise, the themes and musical ideas I developed in these four episodes will be coming back as well.
So Say We All,