I was listening to an old interview with Bear McCreary (he’s the composer behind some of my favorite TV shows, most notably “Battlestar Galactica,” and most lamentably the short-lived but wondeful “Human Target“) and I realized something that stopped me in my tracks for a moment. (Luckily I was washing dishes and not jogging.) I know a reasonable cross-section of sci-fi enthusiasts who’ve watched “Battlestar Galactica” – from the ardent fans who can quote most of the series to those who watched a handful of episodes and promptly moved on to greener pastures.
For a long time I tried to figure out what separated these groups. I tried to parse it down to gender differences, education levels, personal experience, geographical influence, anyhing to help me understand how a show like BG wasn’t appealing to all sci-fi folks. When that failed I tried to explain it by saying that Battlestar wasn’t quite science-fiction. Maybe it really belonged to another genre (drama, tragedy, PTSD-fantasy-in-space). Then, it hit me.
Keep in mind, I’m formulating this from the people I know and it occured to me while I was scrubbing dishes. But here’s the thing. The people I know who didn’t care for Battlestar were the same people who had lukewarm feelings (if not outright disinterest) in music in general. The people who lit up like Roman candles at the mere thought of the series were the same people inclined to stand, transfixed, when they happened upon their favorite song. (You know the type. Those people who seem governed by their ears and get that faraway look like they’re having a vision when they hear a song they love.) I think that Bear McCreary’s composing was so masterful that it bewitched people who would have otherwise have simply enjoyed the series. I think that, despite the other compelling evidence in that show, that it’s most captivating element was in the scoring and that non-music lovers couldn’t be won over.
So, I’ve never taken a class in music theory. But I’m going to stand by this theory. I’m also going to encourage you to click on Bear McCreary’s name above and visit his website.