Bear McCreary

With Outlander season 2 coming to our screens, here's an article about the composer.

     In order to celebrate the end of Droughtlander, here's an article reflecting Bear McCreary's work (composer of the magnificient and trasncending Outlander soundtrack and of many others).

Short Bio :

     Bear McCreary was born in the US in 1979. He is the student of the Oscar-Winning Elmer Bernstein (Ghostbusters, The Magnificent Seven...). From Irish descent, the composeur has always been inspired by his celtic origins. Thus, from his young age he has always loved bagpipes and when he was in high school he got interested in 18th and 19th century scottish songs. Bear has always been passionate anout film music and is influenced by Indiana Jones, Dia Hard, Ennio Morricone's music (western) and many others. During his work on historical series, he did research in a desire of historical authenticity and he collaborated especially with the historian Adam Knight Gilbert (for Black Sails and Da Vinci's Demons)
     Here is a video showing McCreary's misunderstood love for bagpipes :

     In order to describe his vast production full of numerous shades in the best way possible , I will take a few series examples that are part of his filmorgraphy range. Everything about the technique / instruments used for those different musics are informations collected from Mister McCreary's blog (link) because I don't know anything abou music apart from "I like or I don't" (Ok, I'm exagerating a little bit...).

A few works to depict more

Battlestar Galactica
     The series released in 2004 is the first collaboration between Ronal D. Moore (creator of BSG and Outlander) and McCreary. The music is from an orchestra and puts together different themes.

Rewards :
Rewards at the International Film Music Festival

My favourites :

Human Target
     The composer said he shared Steinberg's musical tastes (Steinberg is the creator of the show), that is why Human Target's musics lie within Goldsmith, John Williams and Elmer Bernstein genre. Bear McCreary has at his disposal an orchestra twice as big as the one for BSG and the recording were live.

A few words from McCreary :

"This could be the largest and most ambitious TV music in décades"
"My goal was to creat a continuation of classic orchestral scores, not a regurgitation of them"

     Sadly, all good things must come to an end and in this case the end came sooner than expected. A change of directors at the end of season 1 leading to a change of the composer. Thus, McCreary only wrote for one season in this series from 2010. 

Nominations and rewards :
Nomination at the Emmy Awards
Reward at the International Film Music Festival

My favourites :
The Walking Dead

     For this series released in 2010, Bear McCreary used many instruments like electric guitars, electric bass, banjos, autoharp, dulcimer but also using silence as an essential element because he wrote about not wanting to fall into the genre's clichés.

     Since this paragraph about TWD is short, I invite you to click here to watch videos made by Bear McCreary.

Rewards :
1 ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)

     I don't have any favourites from this show because I couldn't find a good quality (without hearing zombies and gunshots in the background)

Black Sails
     A more recent show (2014), it distinguishes itself from the others because McCreary moves away from the "classic" genre to create a music that sounds more improvised and urgent. Indeed, what better way to give rhythm to a pirate show. The constructed and meticulous character of Human Target is replaced by imperfection and chaos. McCreary's music moves towards primitive instincts of the human race. With respect to the instruments, bones are a part of it.
     If you're eagger to read more about it, here's a link to videos made by the composer : link

A few words from McCreary :
"The most unusual and insane score I've ever written"
"My goal was to create music that sounds improvised by an exhausted crew agoard a ship navigating choppy water. I wanted the audience to sense dirt beneath fingernails"
"It pushed me out of my comfort zone and, honestly, changed my whole creative process"
My favourites :
      Mmm Outlander... Serie of my heart... and the reason why I started writing this article. Thank you Outlander for introducing me to such a talented, passionate and fun composer !
     Anyway, let's go back to the bagpipes... I mean topic ! When Ronald D. Moore approached him about Outlander, the composer was overjoyed to be able to use bagpipes in a more suitable context. Fiddle, pipe whistle, accordion, electric harp and bodhran are other instruments added to Outlander's music. Once more, McCreary made sure to bring to life a music from instruments of the correct time-period.

     This time please allow me to add my own sensitivity to the musical matter : McCreary's love and talent turn this soundtrack into a true enchanting melody. Sometimes nostalgic, sometimes wild, every sequence of notes takes us to the characters' sides, always glorifying them.
     Bonus : the Skye Boat Song's voice is Raya Yarbrough's, his wife.

A few words from McCreary :

"I think that Outlander is very likely one of the most beautiful scores I've ever composed"

"I am immeasurably grateful for the chance to be part of this remarkable story"

     All those series do not represent the full work of the composer (there is also Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Constantine and many others). But Mister McCreary also composed for movies (like 10 Cloverfield lane and The Boy) and for video games.

Emmy Award for Da Vinci's Demons
2 ASCAP (Eureka, The Walking Dead)
2 International Film Music Critics Award (Battlestar Galactica and Human Target)

     I deeply encourage you to go read the articles on Bear McCreary's blog (which has a wonderful design !). I once more give you the link, you can have access by clicking here.

written and translated by
Izzy, AJI Team
The energy is vicious, you can hear the rosin scraping against the strings and practically feel the muscles of the players strain as they keep up with the furious tempo - See more at: http://www.bearmccreary.com/#blog/blog/the-walking-dead/the-walking-dead-days-gone-bye/
The energy is vicious, you can hear the rosin scraping against the strings and practically feel the muscles of the players strain as they keep up with the furious tempo - See more at: http://www.bearmccreary.com/#blog/blog/the-walking-dead/the-walking-dead-days-gone-bye/

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