Sorry for the delay. This blog entry took more energy to write than I anticipated, but it’s finally finished! I hoped to have it ready for the premiere airing last Friday, but I only finished the score a couple weeks ago and my trip to Germany combined with other work obligations made it impossible to set aside enough time to do it right. But, I’ve loved reading all the comments already posted and seeing the passionate response to this super-sized episode. Thanks for being patient with me and checking back.
I’ve already seen heated discussion all over the internet about this episode, including wildly mixed feedback even here on my own blog. Personally, I am not interested in or qualified to make the inevitable argument over whether Daybreak is the best episode of the series (it’s certainly close), or even my best score to date (it probably is). However, I can safely say it is the most ambitious and epic episode that required the grandest, most thematically developed score I have yet written. In this blog, I will show you the path I followed in order to write it.
Perhaps the nearly 100-minute score to Daybreak should be re-titled: The Battlestar Galactica Symphony. With all my thematic material firmly established in previous episodes, I took this opportunity to develop them further than ever before. Themes were combined, fractured, distorted, elongated, inverted and augmented in rewarding ways. This process became so overwhelming, I actually made myself a checklist of every major theme I wanted to appear in the finale and marked them off as I wrote. With very few exceptions, each was woven into the score somewhere along the way.
I just got back to the United States, after attending the premiere of my first ballet, “Prelude to War,” in Germany and, as I predicted, have neither the time nor energy to write a full blog entry for last night’s Daybreak, Pt. I. I will discuss the complete 3-hour Daybreak in next Friday’s blog, when the final episode airs.
In the meantime, I thought I’d try something fun. Since my blog has attracted so many extremely perceptive and insightful readers, I’ve decided to put up a little BG SCORE POP QUIZ about last night’s episode. Here are 10 score-related questions about Daybreak, Pt. I. See how you do and let us know in the comments. (Click on the theme title for either notation or audio of that theme, and be warned that obviuosly SPOILERS LAY BEYOND)…
1. What theme accompanies the opening of the episode, as we zoom in on Caprica City, before the fall?
This week’s episode is the last regular-length episode of the series (next week’s hour is technically the first of the three-hour finale). This episode is a transitional story, used to set in motion events that will transpire in the finale. And after the trials and tribulations of scoring last week’s musically complex Someone to Watch Over Me, Islanded in a Stream of Stars was a welcome return to more traditional scoring for me.
This episode is all about internal conflict. We witness each character struggling with their own personal demons and making difficult decisions. Rather than simply scoring the immediate action or dialog, I wanted the music to help summarize the intense journey we’ve made with these characters: to remind the audience of where they’ve been as we prepare to move forward to the finish line. I avoided writing any new themes, but re-imagined and adapted familiar themes into new contexts.
CHAPTER 3: POST-PRODUCTION
*** Post-Production: Dealing with the Piano ***
After I spent months helping David Weddle and Bradley Thompson write their script, and weeks helping Michael Nankin shoot it, my work on Someone to Watch Over Me was temporarily finished. I spent the following summer scoring the most recent episodes while post-production work began on Someone to Watch Over Me.
Director Michael Nankin worked with editor Stewart Schill and supervising editor Andy Seklir to cut the episode and used the tracks I’d recorded at the piano in Joe’s Bar as a temp score.
(Continued from Chapter 1)
CHAPTER 2: PRODUCTION
*** Production: The Piano ***
(Hogan and Eddie take a minute to pose for a picture on the CIC)
Roark and I arrived in Vancouver on Tuesday, May 13th. David and Bradley’s script was in the final stage of revision, and Michael was already at Vancouver Film Studios preparing for the shoot. The cast read-through was scheduled for the following day and after that, Roark would have time to practice the solo piano pieces he would have to play on set. Production would begin on Thursday, naturally, starting with the piano scenes between Katee and Roark.
There was only one problem. I had written absolutely nothing.
Tonight’s episode of Battlestar Galactica is the most musically innovative score I’ve yet produced. My role as composer evolved far beyond merely providing underscore for the scenes. This time, I was intimately involved in every step of the episode’s development: from the earliest draft of the script by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, through the production, directed by Michael Nankin and throughout the editing, scoring and final sound mix.
My experiences on Someone to Watch Over Me were so profound that my typical blog format would not suffice. Rather than focusing solely on the episode’s score, I’ve written a mini-memoir, chronicling my journey on this episode.
I have divided this up into three chapters. Chapter One focuses on Pre-Production, in particular my interaction with David Weddle and Bradley Thompson as they wrote the script. I also discuss my surreal experience auditioning for a speaking role on Battlestar! In Chapter Two, I discuss the production of the episode, the preparation of the piano, and my behind-the-scenes experiences. Chapter Three, centering on post-production, is more akin to my typical blog entries: a detailed, scene-by-scene analysis of the completed episode and score.
In honor of this week’s cylon-centric Deadlock, I present the second installment in my Exclusive Final Five Interviews: Michael Hogan (Saul Tigh).
In this interview, Hogan shares that he discovered he’s a Cylon the same way Rekha did… Eddie Olmos found out first and teased him about it. He tells us he first thought the idea to give him an eye patch was a joke, reveals what song he wants played at his funeral and describes what it was like working on set with yours truly. (Some moderate spoilers ahead, you should watch No Exit before reading on…)
In the mid-season premiere, Sometimes a Great Notion, we learned remarkable truths about Earth, the Cylons and the Final Five. Now that the mutiny of the past three episodes is finally resolved, No Exit and next week’s Deadlock fill in the back story and details of the lives of the Final Five.
To pay tribute to these two Cylon centered episodes, I present an Exclusive Interview with the Actors Behind the Final Five! This week, I spoke with Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol), Michael Trucco (Sam Anders) and Rekha Sharma (Tory Foster).
BLOODY SPOILERS AHEAD: Tonight’s episode is a direct continuation from last week, literally picking up seconds after we left off. The music, similarly, is a close cousin to last week’s score. However, that score emphasized the hushed, conspiratorial actions of the mutineers setting up their plan, and Blood on the Scales is more consistently bombastic and aggressive: a full-out war in music.
(L-R: Doctor Osamu Kitajima, biwa / Gregg Walsh, shamisen / M.B. Gordy, tsuzumi)
OATHY SPOILERS BEYOND: The season premiere was a relentlessly dark and funereal television elegy. Last week’s episode centered on coping with loss, depression and anxiety, and finding a way to pick up the pieces and move on. If you have been waiting for the series’ pace to pick up and get back to kicking ass… your wait is now over.
The Oath is the second of an obviously multi-episode arc centering on a mutiny within the colonial fleet. The tensions between human and Cylon are momentarily set aside as the humans divert all their rage and anger against each other.