Bear McCreary On Creating the Music For Apple's Foundation

Composer Bear McCreary has one of the most varied and impressive collections of film and TV scores of any composer working. Whether you know him for Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, or God of War, he has a sound that's all over the place, allowing him to play in a wide variety of different styles and fictional worlds. Now, he's brought his talents to Foundation, a new series from Apple TV+ that's based on the works of Isaac Asimov, and he characterizes the work as kind of a homecoming, giving him a chance ot do the kind of epic, sci-fi scoring he has largely not had a chance to revisit since Battlestar

He is also releasing a score for the show. It's something he says is important to him -- for audiences to be able to hear the music stand on its own outside of the context of the show. So much so, that he actually started a record label so that he can self-distribute and make sure that more of his work finds its way into the public's hands.

"I feel like I emerged on the scene with Battlestar Galactica, and so for the better part of 15 years, I've been making strides with my career to point away from big, outer-space epics," McCreary told ComicBook. "One of the things that I pride myself on, is that I don't know what people know me for. When I go to gaming circles on I'm a God of War guy. I'm in horror circles, I'm The Walking Dead guy. In sci-fi, yes, there's Battlestar, but there's also weird fare, like 10 Cloverfield Lane. Outlander is a historical epic, and there's Black Sails. For me, this felt a bit like coming home to that outer space epic kind of thing -- returning to the genre really, with the first project that truly is an outer space epic since Battlestar. I want to say it's like Star Wars. It's actually a much more grounded, epic story than even Battlestar was."

You can see a behind-the-scenes featurette below, featuring a look at the creation of the sound of Foundation

McCreary says that he often feels like it's his job to "disappear" into the world of the production he's scoring, so it might seem counterintuitive that he's also passionate about getting the music out there. But the idea is not that the music isn't important to the production -- it's that it has to fit tonally in a way that makes it feel natural. That feeling, lacking the context of the accompanying video, can be a totally different experience. 

"it was soundtrack albums that made me fall in love with film music," McCreary said. "They were my gateway into music. I felt like they were the way I got to really understand what these composers were doing. I loved listening to their music in the film, but even more impactful for me was listening to it on the record. So I started my own record label, because I wanted to have a little more control, a little more sway. I wanted to be able to. Make sure that everything got out there."

He compared his approach to that of someone like Danny Elfman. While the composer, best known for projects like the 1989 Batman and the theme to The Simpsons, often gets generalized as having a specific sound, McCreary says it's less that Elfman has a sound, and more that he has an approach to scoring. That, McCreary said, is what makes him great, and it's what McCreary himself shoots for.

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"Watch Batman and then put on black beauty, and tell me the guy has a sound," McCreary joked. "Nope, he's got an approach. Same with Ennio Morricone, same with Alan Silvestri, Basil Poledouris, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams.That is really what I've tried, I think, to emulate. Maybe not on purpose, but just because those were the composers I grew up worshiping. So for me, it's like, 'Well, that's what you do.'"

You can see The Foundation on Apple TV+. McCreary's score album is available to purchase now.