Back to the Berenian is an epic cinematic soundtrack for the sci-fi audio drama Starcalled. My name is Gabriel Alvarez. I'm an audio fiction creator and composer from Austin, Texas. I wrote this piece as accompaniment to a climactic escape scene in Starcalled. It plays during a sequence where two renegade characters, Osborn and Oddie, escape from a colonial space station. The piece serves as a transition to an action sequence involving ship-to -ship combat in an asteroid field. Back to the Berenian is an emotional rollercoaster which musically whisks the listener from the clutches of the advancing enemies. Let’s break it down!
IN THIS EPISODE
01:11 Early influences for Back to the Berenian included Danny Elfman’s score for Batman Returns, Australian TV series Farscape and, of course, Star Trek and Star Wars. Before I started creating the series, there just wasn’t much out there exactly like what I wanted to hear. So you take it upon yourself to create the type of stuff you want to hear. After all, who doesn’t pretend they’re climbing into the cockpit of a spaceship?
02:31 The original inspiration for doing a DIY sci-fi show came from tabletop gaming, Dungeons and Dragons and Farscape. I was living in a crummy apartment with my friends and we started making ‘a sci-fi show with a zero-dollar budget’. I just kept running with it and kinda made it up as I went along. When I write the script, I hear the music in my head. The blueprint is there. It’s just a matter of assembling everything around it.
03:51 I use Native Instruments Cinematic Strings, Brass and Percussion and a couple of 8Dio VSTs like taiko ensembles.
04:09: This piece comes just before a fight scene during an escape sequence by the human Osborne and his friend Oddie, a four-armed lizard alien. The scene evolves and builds, culminating in a huge, explosive spaceship battle in an asteroid field. Being able to thread the music through this diversity of moods is always the challenge. At first, I started by faking my way through it, and now I feel confident in my composition and mixing abilities. This is the moment you most enjoy as a composer!
06:23 I do a lot of movements by minor 3rds. It really resonates with me and it sounds awesome. Take a listen to how the theme song from Farscape modulates up by a minor 3rd. In the first 80 seconds of Back to the Berenian, we have 3 key changes, from Em to C#m to Cm.
07:42 Here we have a change in the time signature from 4/4 to 3/4. I was going into a fistfight sequence and wanted to slingshot the audience forward into something clipped at a faster pace. Musically, it’s just percussion - hard taiko drums, timpani, gong and cymbal. Syncopation helps disorient the listener in a sequence of ‘percussive violence.’
08:27 I used a lot of leitmotif in my composition for Starcalled. A leitmotif is a piece of music attached to a character, place or concept. I have character themes for the Edari (a race of aliens) as well as the characters Oddie, Osborne, Captain Landers. There are also abstract motifs for danger, suspense and more.
10:22 I love using tritones. A tritone is the perfect dissonant interval. They’re absolutely disgusting, horrid things which really want to resolve. You know we’re going somewhere but you just don’t necessarily know where we’re going. Tritones give you momentum and propel your figures forward, keeping your audience at the edge of their seat. String ostinatos give you energy, pace and inertia. I love working with them too.
11:54 You want your music to resonate with the audience. I draw inspiration from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s so hopeful and optimistic. I want to feel rewarded for hoping for those things.
Listen or subscribe to Starcalled https://starcalled.space
Buy the Starcalled soundtrack https://starcalled.bandcamp.com/
Follow Starcalled on Twitter @starcalledradio
Batman Returns Main Theme by Danny Elfman
Star Wars Main Theme by John Williams
Theme from Farscape by Chris Neal and Braedy Neal
ABOUT THIS SHOW
How I Make Music is where behind-the-scenes musicians tell their own stories. Every Wednesday, we break apart a song, soundtrack or composition and investigate the insights into how it was made.
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