By Melissa Minners
Over the past decade, I have been noticing the name of one composer keeps cropping up...in all of the shows I enjoy, in shows that I have yet to see, but hear great things about...one name keeps showing up over and over again. That name would be Bear McCreary, composer extraordinaire. It has been a long time since I have been so excited to receive music from any specific composer, but now I find myself looking forward to receiving music created by Bear McCreary, even if it's only a snippet created for a game. Why does this composer have me so excited about his music?
Bear McCreary's life began in the usual way. Born in Florida to an author and a college professor, McCreary spent much of his formidable years in Washington. From comments made about his works, it would appear that Bear McCreary has always been interested in music. As he notes when talking about his music for Outlander, he was enamored with the Scottish folk music of the Jacobite Uprising era as a teenager in high school. Eventually, McCreary would graduate from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California with degrees in composition and recording arts. A more professional training in music composition came from renowned composer Elmer Bernstein, who you may know as creator of the dramatic film scores for The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Escape and countless other movies and television series.
Working on scores for film shorts for a number of years, Bear McCreary struck it big in 2004 with his musical composition for the newly revised Battlestar Galactica television series and it was no turning back after that. The score for this series, heavily influenced by Celtic, Asian and African music and featuring exotic instruments (duduk, ehru, yialli tanbur, dumbek and more) and striking taiko drum percussion helped propel a series with a satisfying storyline, action and intrigue to the top of fandom. The music was like nothing we had ever heard for a television series in the past. It stood out with its exotic notes and heightened the adrenaline of action scenes, causing fans of the series to take notice. McCreary scored every episode of the series and subsequent offshoots of the series as well. After Battlestar Galactica, McCreary became a much sought after composer, creating music for a number of video games (Dark Void, SOCOM 4), movies (Chillerama, Rest Stop, Wrong Turn, Everly) and television series (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Human Target, Defiance, The Walking Dead and so many more).
In 2013, McCreary started his own record label, Sparks & Shadows, specializing in soundtracks. But he's not just about recording and producing music, he's also conducted orchestras across the globe in performances of his music. Bear McCreary is a well-accomplished composer, producer, performer, conductor and God knows what else more. And music apparently runs in the family, as one will notice his brother Brendon McCreary (Young Beautiful in a Hurry) and wife Raya Yarbrough can often be found performing on Bear McCreary soundtracks.
I personally find Bear McCreary's work to be very innovative and exciting. I have received quite a few Bear McCreary soundtracks over the years (see the clickable list of links below) and have found each one to be new and exciting. McCreary seems to instinctively know what sound will work with a particular movie or television series. He may use certain cues in other projects, but they are modified enough to sound new and his use of exotic instruments in conjunction with orchestral, electronic, choral and other styles of music depending on the genre is refreshing. Of course, somehow that signature percussion almost always manages to find its way into his work, but they are so cool sounding, why not? In my opinion, Bear McCreary is the television composer of the 2000s, much like Mike Post was the television composer of the 1980s and 1990s.
McCreary is the real deal and I can't wait to check out more from this talented composer. Until then, why not check out the following links to Bear McCreary works already covered by G-POP.net, some just appearing on the site on the date of publication of this very tribute to the composer! Enjoy!