Robotech:  The Shadow Chronicles (Soundtrack) by Scott Glasgow

 

 

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Composer Scott Glasgow
Music for a Robotech Revival

Masters from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

study film scoring at the Aspen Music Festival with John Corigliano

2002, Scott was also a finialist in the Turner Classic Film Scoring Contest

worked as an assistant
to Michael Tilson Thomas
(Conductor of the San
Francisco Symphony

1998 and studied conducting with
Denis deCoteau

Worked for LucasArts & Sykwalker Sound


Composition Credits

The Gene Generation 2006

TOXIC

HACK!

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles

Chasing Ghosts

Pushing out Kathrine

Show and Tell

The Dress Maker

Fame & Francois

"Five Coolest Things"

Father and Son

The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog

Time Lapse

Mama Had A Baby and Her Head Popped Off

Left for Dead
 

 

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (DVD)

 

Sound clips
Provided by
Scott Glasgow

Main Title

 Infiltration

 Dog Fight

 "Exodus"
Waterfall Sample

"Hybrid"
Shifting Clouds
sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Glasgow

"Having fans doesn’t change the work.  To give you an idea of how fanatical the ROBOTECH fans can be, a couple months ago someone hacked into my server looking for the main title track to the movie."

Scott Glasgow


Scott Glasgow composer of the recently released ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES shares about his experiences in writing and producing the score for the film, the special challenges presented to him, some special technicques employed for the score, and the pressures and obstacles of being a composer in Hollywood in the new millennium.

Look for the "   " to listen to a sound clip of the referenced music!

 

CC: You were instrumental in getting your work for ROBOTECH: SHADOW CHRONICLES released by Varese Sarabande. How so?

Scott Glasgow: The DVD for Robotech was already locked in to be released by Funimation in Feb. 2007. The discussions came to me by the production company (Harmony Gold) as to what we going to do about the CD release. There was discussion about self-producing a CD to save money, which to me was a terrible idea. That is basically a glorified promo CD with no distribution or any sort of promotion. I set my mind in action to contact all the labels myself to see if I could get a proper soundtrack record label, with good distribution, to take on the project. I did contact Varese first but didn’t hear anything, so I moved on to other labels. We did get a couple cool labels interested in releasing the CD but, in the end, I tried once more with Varese, whom I really wanted, and in the 11th hour Robert Townson contacted me. It was really last minute. In fact, the CD was mastered before the contract was signed! I feel very honored that Varese took on this project for me. Robert Townson is one of those fantastic producers who really cares about the music (especially film scores). Many labels are into song CDs which have a little score on them and they are not really interested in score-only CD. Varese Sarabande is interested in putting out great score albums. I feel very lucky to have found this opportunity.


CC: Talk about the challenge you faced in incorporating themes and music from the previous series, particularly the work of Ulpio Minucci.

Scott Glasgow: You know, that is very tough to deal with. We composers are artists, so to ask someone to basically write in someone else's voice in order to express the drama you seen on the screen and feel is very different inside musically. The primary problem I had was that most of the music Ulpio wrote was very 1980s sounding, with the 80s synths, 80's chord progressions, etc., which I basically didn’t use at all. I only reused the main title and then updated two songs for the movie (1 is not used and remains on the “cutting room floor”). Main Title


CC: Given the history of ROBOTECH, talk about the differences you faced in scoring this as opposed to other projects you have worked on.

Scott Glasgow: Well, I think you are referring to the built-in fans on this project, that are not on other projects. Yes. Before I had written a single note of music, I had gone to a convention and was on a panel in front of over 1000 fans! It was sort of a shock. No one cares about most projects I work on, even after it comes out. Its just that way, unless you have some hit. But again with ROBOTECH it was different. I was asked if the pressure effected my work on the score and the truth is, “No.”

I just did my job to the best of my abilities on this film as much as I do on all my films. Having fans doesn’t change the work. To give you an idea of how fanatical the ROBOTECH fans can be, a couple months ago someone hacked into my server looking for the main title track to the movie. I think another difference in working on this film versus others is that it is anime, so I started work with what they call a “pencil test” which really resembles moveable drawings then I moved into a first treatment of the film (which looks like the action but still is blocky figures moving around the screen) to finally having the full animation. Some of the music changed with some of the timing changes but it seemed to work out in the end. It is a different process than working on a live action film for sure.

CC: "Infiltration"
sounds as though it has a number of live, orchestral elements. Talk about the actual construction and performance of that piece.

Scott Glasgow: Well in that case it is all about CUSTOM SAMPLES. That is the only way to explain that. I really love to write in that aggressive orchestral sound (which you can also hear on the SWAT RAID track from Chasing Ghosts). I did actually make parts for the LIVE brass to play but it just wasn’t happening when they tried it. They were unable to really keep in rhythm so I tossed most of those recordings aside. The only live element in that track are these very soft muted trombone hits (which still sound out of rhythm in places). I didn’t have muted trombones as samples so I had to leave those in. The whole cue is very Stravinsky – Rite of Spring inspired, but it sounds nothing like it. I guess it is the motor rhythms, with poly-chords and offbeat accents that make it Stravinsky in my mind.

CC: In the track, "Dog Fight" I believe this was originally going to be a fully orchestral piece but didn't end up that way. What is the story of that track?

Scott Glasgow: Ughhh,, painful. Well, I guess I have to talk about this directly since your question is so direct. The truth is that I was using a remote recording session for the orchestra (meaning I was sitting in Los Angeles watching on a TV screen the orchestra in Prague). Somehow there was some mistake where the parts to “Dog Fight” were lost or misplaced. It was also said that it would get picked up after lunch and again somehow when I called out that cue the parts were still lost (which were on the server so I could see they had them). There was nothing I could do about it. The story really doesn’t end there. I was in Prague recording the score to a film coming out soon called HACK and at the end of my HACK session, if there was time, I planned to record the strings to "Dog Fight". To my great joy, I actually got to the end of my work with Hack (or at least I thought) and had all the parts to “Dog Fight” on the stands. Right before I was going to give the downbeat, my engineer cut into my headphones to tell me we had one more HACK cue to do that I had forgotten.. So, the dog fight cue had to be put aside one more time. Truth is I have a couple cues from both ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES and CHASING GHOSTS I would love record live someday.

CC: You recorded many of the instruments individually for this score. Why did you choose to do that for ROBOTECH? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.

Scott Glasgow: Simple--- BUDGET. Many times, when you record exotics you do it separately anyways, but in this case it was easier to bring over a flute player and have her play both flute parts, then do a couple solos, then pick up an Indian flute and finally maybe some piccolo. It just covered many bases with one person versus having the Prague guys do it. Also it makes the mix easier when you have them separated from the strings & brass. That way I can control or edit what I need rather than having it all mixed together. For me, this control of the orchestral families is a major advantage especially on this project, where I had to move pieces around after we recorded. I guess the only disadvantage is that they are not playing in the same room and getting the wonderful group sound. Players play differently when they are with many other players than when they are sitting in a studio by themselves.


CC: As we've talked about already, ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES is not wall-to-wall live orchestra, do you think the score would be improved if it were?

Scott Glasgow: Well, it is wall-to-wall orchestral music, just not wall-to-wall LIVE orchestra. It all comes down to the budget again. As is the common story with low budget film productions, we simply didn’t have the money to record this entire score live, but we did set out to write an all orchestral score in the style of Star Wars because that is what the production wanted except maybe a couple cues like “Janice in the Lab” which was supposed to be synthetic for the synthetic character (J.A.N.I.C.E. is a robot). I did what I had to do which is figure out what parts of the score desperately needed a live treatment (like “Ariel’s love theme”) and made sure we recorded those sections live even if it was only the end (like the track “Scott Bernard” where only the love theme at the end was recorded live). It is really a shame the whole score was not recorded live because I think the whole quality of the music would have really come to the next level. We are talking about the next ROBOTECH movie and I think the consensus is to have more money dedicated to the music so we can record the whole score live if the score needs it (ie. an orchestra will actually record anything that is orchestral). We’ll see what happens. Right now, it is all talk. When people start writing checks things change. I do want to make it clear that almost EVERY track on the CD (except dog fight) has at least some live element. I think there is a perception that this score is not a live score, or that it is a sample score and that is simply not true. Every cue except 4 in the entire score, which was 88-minute long, has live elements. Even if it is a solo violin or a serpent, almost every cue had something live played on it.


CC: The track, “Maia Sterling” is strangely evocative of a particular theme from John Williams for one of Star Wars' more disliked characters. Any influence there?

Scott Glasgow: OK, that’s funny. Truth is it is not inspired by the Star Wars track you are referring to; however, it is inspired by another John Williams score about a young sorcerer. In fact, I remember calling that my “Harry Potter sections to the director of ROBOTECH. Funny. The truth is that, the music is really out of my head with those “light-hearted” scenes. I get inspired by people but do not blatantly steal. There are a couple more “light-hearted” sections in the film, which I wished ended up on the CD but we just had to trim the length of the CD down. Someday, I’ll probably post that other “light-hearted” cue on my website. Another section that is “light-hearted” is at the end of “Race You Back”. There is a fine difference to being inspired by someone else’s work and actually stealing notes. I think I keep enough original ideas going that I’m comfortable with my work.

CC: In an era where minimalist, post-modern, and atonal/sound design musical scores seem to be found with great frequency, you seem to be a fan of leitmotif, as evidenced in CHASING GHOSTS and ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES. Is that technique something you want to earmark your career?

Scott Glasgow: I really love the “leitmotive” type scoring which does seem to have fallen to the wayside lately in Hollywood. I think it is a wonderful way to score movies and completely marries the score to the film. The reason one theme comes after another is not random. It is because that character is obviously in the scene. I did see once recent review of my music as having too many themes but if you watch the film it really doesn’t. It may seem that way when listen on headphone though. Back to your question, I would say that I do like a “leitmotive score” if I feel it fits. My last two scores are not that way. One is for a film called TOXIC (which will be out in 2007) and that score is all basically one theme that I stick with all the time (or some derivative of that theme)—sort of the way Bernard Herrman does with some of his scores. The other film score is called HACK and that one is a horror-parody so in that case I was writing music of many different styles from other movies in a parody style so there is a Shining cue, a Ring cue, a Psycho cue and bunch of others. I still had themes I developed that were my own but it was not a leit-motive score at all. My current two films are not really that way either. I guess if it fits the film (and there’s time to do it) I will do a leitmotive score because I really like how that style works in film.


CC: In other interviews, you have used the term "Shifting Clouds" quite a bit, talk about what you mean by that term.

Scott Glasgow: Well, it seems I am influenced by my natural surroundings. I’m not some huge nature-boy really but it will sound like it when I describe this. Truth is that it all goes back to Gyorgy Ligiti with his “broken clock” sounds in his scores. I think I was studying Ligeti’s music and it was raining one day. I just thought the rhythms created by the rain out my window frame was so cool so I tried to make some of that with music and that is where this “natural environment” techniques began. I guess natural things inspire me (but not like Messian’s "birds", that’s taking it too far for me). The shifting clouds technique, as I call it, really is in my mind ispiring sound (maybe people don’t hear it that way at all but then again does that matter?). The sound is basically two chords that are completely remote from each other harmonically (take c minor and f# major), where slowly one will crescendo from nothing, then the 2nd chord will do the same about a second later overlapping the first. This pattern repeats a few times with different chords. I developed this technique while in school where I wrote a piece for strings called “Tenebrae” (Darkness) which is based on music of Gesualdo (1560-1615) whom I wrote an opera on, later on while in school. Recently, I heard this used by Don Davis in his Matrix movies but I had already developed long ago (I think he got it from John Adams - Harmonielehre). I also have a technique that I call a “waterfall” technique. You can hear this sound at the end of “Exodus” on the Robotech CD but it is also in my wind quintet (which is on my website as an mp3). That technique is just as it sounds if you were to look at a waterfall slowly. This technique is basically falling scales at different tempos. A 16th-note falling scale can be followed by a sextuplet scale in another instrument followed by a 8th-note falling scale in another instrument all creating the illusion of a waterfall of sound. I have a couple other “natural inspired” techniques I like to use but also a city of honking horns can inspire me too or even a broken clock. Anything around me with a cool rhythmic patter might catch my ear and inspire my music. Shifting Clouds sample


CC: You have a background as a band member, why do you think many of the most successful composers in Hollywood seem to share this experience?

Scott Glasgow: I really wouldn’t consider myself an ex-band film composer. Really I am a classically trained composer who is now doing films that did play in bands when I was a teenager. What I think you are referring to is the Danny Elfmans of the world. Just think about all the composers who are doing really well in Hollywood and ask yourself if they are from a band. Almost all are.  Truth is that, the amount of classically trained film composers that are working at a big level are few (which is something they don’t tell you at these schools with film music programs). Most working composers come from being in a famous band or some other field. I think the reason for this is, partially, the directors want to work with these guys, whom they may have seen play some arena show when they were younger and are sort of in awe of them. (I heard Kamen used to hang with the Zepplin guys a lot and that was a big appeal to directors). I think another reason is that, when starting out in this career, it is very hard to survive financially, so the more additional income one can have (ie. Royalties from a record that you can sustain yourself with during the early lean years of being a film composer)—the better. It is impossible to do this career and have a day job. There are just not enough hours in the day. I think also being in a band might make you more of a rounded musician not just a classically trained musician--- film music is broad and I think a composer needs many musical experiences to do the work. For all of these reasons, I think ex-band members make it to being full-fledge film composers on major pictures.


CC: So just how competitive is the market in Hollywood these days?

Scott Glasgow: Oh, man, it is rough. I would say most people who try this career don’t make it. And why one makes it and another doesn’t is such a mystery to me. All you can do is put your best work out there and hopefully the people you work with really like what you do. They will end up suggesting you to other people to work with and all of this leads to more work. I think the proliferation of computers and software has put the tools into every persons hands to be a film composer however it doesn’t mean they will become one. It is a tough field that there is no one way to make it. To this day, I still struggle with this. Finding work is sometimes a total mystery. The competition is simply brutal. There are hundreds of really great composers in Hollywood...and if you’re not in LA your chances of getting good film projects decrease dramatically! I seem to be up against one friend of mine on just about every film I am trying to get. It sort of bums me out because I think we were closer friends before all this started to happen, but it is about work and career. Nothing personal and it is not a competition. That’s life in Hollywood.


CC: You have worked for LucasArts and Skywalker Sound (I was privileged to visit the ranch myself and sit in on an audio mixing session in the Kurosawa room), yet haven't yet delved into the game music genre. Why is that?

Scott Glasgow: I’m not really sure. I wanted to. I spoke with the guys at Lucasarts at the time. They all knew who I was and what I was doing but it simply never happened. I would like to do some game music someday I just do not know the door to knock on to find the opportunity. The guys I used to know at Lucas don’t work there anymore. I guess someday I might do a game if the opportunity presents itself.

A famous quote from Aaron Copland that many composer have quoted has stuck with me too--- it is “you do the work that comes to you...if you get calls to do films -- you do that... if you get calls to do commercials – you do that...if you get calls to do ballet – you do that. You go with the work that is coming to you and aim for the work you want”... That is the way I think too--- I am getting calls for low budget independent films right now so that is what I am doing. My goal is to someday break into the studio system. That is my ultimate goal, to work on nice sized (and funded) studio features.


CC: As you know there is an upcoming IRON MAN feature film. How much would you love to score that and if you did, what would your approach be?

Scott Glasgow: Oh...man...that’d be awesome but completely unrealistic. You know, I met Faverau (director of IRON MAN) at the San Diego Comic Convention last year. I introduced myself but it is a crazy zoo there so I doubt he remembers me. We did talk about Debney doing IRON MAN (who is listed on imdb.com right now) so I am guess it will go to one of the big guys, probably Debney. It is unlikely that someone like me can get a huge comic book film like that without some huge film before me. The studios invest many millions into these superhero films so they really do not go with unknown guys like me. Even if I had done some nice big work they still would question it. Same thing happened on BATMAN BEGINS from what I understand. I mean, the director had a composer he had used on all his film but suddenly we get Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard doing the score instead? What is that about? Does that mean the composer Christopher Nolan normally uses couldn't handle the job? Hell no! but the studio just doesn't feel comfortable giving their big budget films to untested composers (they usually want award winning guys). However, it is the common practice in Hollywood on these major, summer blockbuster films to be very political safe with EVERYONE on the film. Sometimes you do get the David Arnold lucky shot but that is less common than you might think.

CC: It was recently released that you, instead of JIM DOOLEY, would be scoring BONE DRY. Talk about how this came about.

Scott Glasgow: Well, it’s really simple. I got an email from the director saying he really liked my score to CHASING GHOSTS and he was wondering if I was interested in scoring his film. I didn’t know anything about Dooley being on this project until much later. I don’t really know what happened with that. I'm guessing it was probably just a schedule conflict. Dooley is a busy guy!


CC: What else do you have upcoming?

Scott Glasgow: Quite a few things are coming out soon (some I have already mentioned). I have two features coming out (either in theaters or director-to-DVD). One is a thriller called TOXIC. It stars Tom Sizemore, Bai Ling and a bunch of other cool actors. That score is a amalgamation of different styles, it has some groovy stuff, some thriller stuff and some horror stuff. Mostly it is an electronic score but I did record some live sax and flute. Then I have a teen-horror-comedy film coming out called HACK and that stars Danica McKellor (“Winnie” from the Wonder Years!), William Forsythe and many other good actors. That is a fun score I recorded in Bratislava in Nov. of 2006 with 60 strings. Currently, I am working on the score to a very unique film called “The Gene Generation” which is like a cyber-punk, Gigeresque (as in H. R Giger), Blade Runner type SciFi film starring Bai Ling, Faye Dunaway, Alec Newman and many other wonderful actors. This is simply a stunning film with a great concept story. Right now the film is mostly green screen shots (there’s over 300 SFX shots in this film!). And of course I just started work on Bone Dry (as you previously mentioned), which stars Lance Henderickson and Luke Goss. It is also a thriller. I have a very exciting ending for this film which we are aiming at recording with a big string orchestra. It should be a real nice shining cue for me and will hopefully a get a CD release. These two films will not be out to the public for a little while. So that is four films on the way.
 

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