060 Starcalled – Gabriel Alvarez – Back to the Berenian

An immersive listening experience. Headphones recommended. Join audio drama creator and composer Gabriel Alvarez in a climactic rollercoaster soundtrack for an epic space action scene for fiction podcast Starcalled. Gabriel’s influences included 90s Australian TV series Farscape, Batman Returns and, of course, Star Wars. Let’s break it down!



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?


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.


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!


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.’

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.

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.

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 starcalled.space
* Buy the Starcalled soundtrack 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


Discover new fiction podcasts in an immersive, sound-designed listening experience with their music composers. In this show, we challenge audio drama music makers to break apart a song, soundtrack or composition and get into why and how it was made. Headphones recommended.

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How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann johnbartmann.com