The two versions of Title Theme from Observe and Report covered in this episode are soundtracks for the sci-fi audio drama Observe and Report, a story about an alien that gets stranded on earth. My name is Nate Fisher. I’m a writer and composer from Washington. I wrote the two versions of this piece to express the loneliness of an earthbound alien. The first version is a gentler solo piano piece while the second incorporates big orchestral elements for a grand cinematic feel. Let’s break it down!
IN THIS EPISODE
01:33 My favorite score is Steve Jablonsky’s score for the first Transformers film. I’m also influenced by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s score for the Halo games. And, of course, Howard Shore and John Williams.
02:26 I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to start with a new project instead of a template. Templates save time, but end up making your music sound the same. I sit at the piano and just noodle around until something comes out.
03:00 Today we’ll look at two different versions of the same song. The first version (in C) is a solo piano with light orchestration. The second is bigger, with an epic cinematic sound (in G). One of my main goals with season 2 of Observe and Report was to take everything to the next level, including the theme song.
04:05 There’s a current trend in film trailers – slowing down familiar themes and giving them a big, epic sound. Listen to the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker and hear how the recognizable melody is played back in half-time and reharmonized.
04:58 When music is made to sound really big, it creates a dimension of space that dovetails well with the sci-fi idea of space.
06:55 What is epic? Some examples of how I do it include having layering melody instruments, big brass and drums, a wide dynamic range, melodies that span multiple octaves. I love the way the french horn adds a sense of adventure to my music.
08:10 There’s a nice chromatic descending line at this moment in the piece.
08:45 I avoid common pop progressions when writing for sci-fi. There’s nothing wrong with them but they don’t generally lend themselves to sci-fi themes in my opinion
09:11 In the season 2 version of the theme, I decided to use the clean electric guitar to convey the loneliness of space. And also to have an instrument that could bring some meat to the song when needed!
10:20 I had been avoiding the use of the theremin and its classic spooky sci-fi sound, but I decided I’d been staying away from it for too long and it was time to give it a spot.
10:58 There’s a nice big Hans Zimmer ‘drop’ moment where all the instruments hit together and the energy kicks in. It serves the purpose of being musical ear-candy. But it also allows a pause for when the credits begin to play. It was a balance between artistic and practical.
* Steve Jablonsky – Autobots
* John Williams – Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Trailer
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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