13:51:48 on March 06 2002
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Enterprise | www.stenterprise.com
Joining veteran TREK composers Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway on ENTERPRISE is former QUANTUM LEAP composer Velton Ray Bunch, who was recommended for the job by Scott Bakula, with whom he developed a close working relationship on the previous series. Bunch in fact received an Emmy Award nomination for his scoring of the Lee Harvey Oswald episode of LEAP.
Speaking in the latest issue of Film Score Monthly about his first experience scoring STAR TREK, a process widely known to be streamlined over the last fifteen years since the beginning of NEXT GENERATION, and in particular his first episode of ENTERPRISE, "Silent Enemy" (aired in the U.S. January 16th, 2002), Bunch explains how he initially received conflictual mandates for the episode's musical accompaniment.
"There's a layer of producers and a couple of them had indicated that they didn't want me to stray too far from the palette that had been set, and a couple of the others were sort of the opposite and encouraged me to push the envelope. What I think I haven't heard before and I've been told they haven't used is that I tend to score even orchestrally a bit more rhythmic than others, and so a lot of the cues I did for that episode have a rhythmic base. I don't mean drums or traps, but just a constant kind of pulsing tension and I did that using a few more percussion players than I think Dennis or Jay do and a couple of synthesizers and then layered the orchestra around it. I was really terrified that they would hate it but they didn't," he recalls.
Even with a seeming blessing from the producers for his new angle, not all went over well, and Bunch's original score had to undergo several augmentations before earning the final stamp of approval.
"To my experience the changes were extensive," Bunch acknowledges. "I don't think I've ever been through a session where there have been quite so many changes and I was actually quite distraught about it, but after talking to Dennis I found out that that's really the norm for the show. I frankly overwrote a little bit and especially in the battle scenes I think I wrote more action-oriented music than they're used to, and that was the main thing I had to clean out and make a little less aggressive. They really liked the tension in some four- or five-minute cues that had some sort of lurking tension, and they really loved those and I didn't have to change those too much, but the battle scenes I had to fix."
Continuing, Bunch is diplomatic and accepts the way TREK scoring works. "You have to think so fast on your feet. You just don't have the endless days that you have on a feature film to fix things so I've fortunately become pretty good at that. Dennis McCarthy has called some of the scores sonic wallpaper, and I think that I have seen the light and I understand what he means more now, because when the big ruler comes down and sort of levels everything you don't have the spikes. I wrote the battle scenes much more cinematically and much more dramatic and those things got smoothed out and leveled out so it does create a wallpaper effect in a sense."
The composer is slated to score an upcoming episode, and while fan clamor for more inventive STAR TREK scoring has only been reinforced by the positive reaction to Bunch's work in "Silent Enemy," the composer is cautious and stresses the need to work within the framework set for the series.
"Everybody wants to make their mark, but at the same time I realize that they're used to hearing something, and if you go too far it's going to get thrown out," he offers.
For the full interview, check out Film Score Monthly Vol. 7, No. 1.
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