Variety (January 20, 2010)

“More live musicians than any live-action series in years”

Live musicians preferred

‘Target’ uses more than any live-action series in years

By JON BURLINGAME

Bear McCreary conducts an average of 48 musicians each week for Fox’s ‘Human Target,’ the most for any live-action series in years.

That sound you’re hearing on Fox’s new action drama “Human Target”? It’s the noise that 50 or 60 musicians can make, something that’s all but disappeared from live-action television series.

It is the largest group of musicians to play on a live-action TV series in several years. Michael Giacchino’s scores for “Lost” feature 35 players, while Steve Jablonsky uses seven on “Desperate Housewives.” The animated “Simpsons” and “Family Guy” routinely enjoy 35- to 45-piece orchestras, but these shows are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to music.

The classic sound of real Hollywood musicians — not the synthesizers and samplers employed on most shows — was in “Human Target” exec producer Jonathan Steinberg’s mind from the start for the series from Warner Bros. Television. “At the first production meeting we had, even before the pilot, I said we must have an orchestra,” he noted at a recent recording session at Warner Bros.’ Eastwood Scoring Stage.

This show is about an action hero,” Steinberg says. “It’s built out of the DNA of the movies I grew up on, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders’ and ‘Star Trek.’ Those movies don’t work without that orchestra.”

Composer Bear McCreary (“Battlestar Galactica”) is conducting an average of 48 musicians in as many as 33 minutes of music each week. He had 60 players to record the main-title sequence and various versions of the series theme.

The studio really believes in it,” says McCreary. “They understand that the music is adding a lot — not just to the overall production value but to establish the tone. It’s funny and adventurous and intense and scary, says McCreary, who is also using live musicians (though far fewer) on his other shows this season, Syfy’s “Caprica” and NBC’s “Trauma.” “This is the kind of soundtrack music that people of my generation associate with action and adventure,” he says.

Years ago, Paramount’s “Star Trek” series (primarily “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager”) averaged 44 players but sometimes reached 60 for high-profile episodes. “Murder, She Wrote” had 34. Further back, composers recalled, “Dallas” averaged 22 and “Hawaii Five-0″ 18. All won Emmys for their music.

Most composers dislike replacing real musicians with electronic sounds but are forced to use today’s high-tech tools for budgetary reasons. “Doing mocked-up ‘orchestral’ phrases is my idea of hell,” says McCreary. “It’s just really boring.”

That sound you’re hearing on Fox’s new action drama “Human Target”? It’s the noise that 50 or 60 musicians can make, something that’s all but disappeared from live-action television series.

It is the largest group of musicians to play on a live-action TV series in several years. Michael Giacchino’s scores for “Lost” feature 35 players, while Steve Jablonsky uses seven on “Desperate Housewives.” The animated “Simpsons” and “Family Guy” routinely enjoy 35- to 45-piece orchestras, but these shows are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to music.

The classic sound of real Hollywood musicians — not the synthesizers and samplers employed on most shows — was in “Human Target” exec producer Jonathan Steinberg’s mind from the start for the series from Warner Bros. Television. “At the first production meeting we had, even before the pilot, I said we must have an orchestra,” he noted at a recent recording session at Warner Bros.’ Eastwood Scoring Stage.

This show is about an action hero,” Steinberg says. “It’s built out of the DNA of the movies I grew up on, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders’ and ‘Star Trek.’ Those movies don’t work without that orchestra.”

Composer Bear McCreary (“Battlestar Galactica”) is conducting an average of 48 musicians in as many as 33 minutes of music each week. He had 60 players to record the main-title sequence and various versions of the series theme.

The studio really believes in it,” says McCreary. “They understand that the music is adding a lot — not just to the overall production value but to establish the tone. It’s funny and adventurous and intense and scary, says McCreary, who is also using live musicians (though far fewer) on his other shows this season, Syfy’s “Caprica” and NBC’s “Trauma.” “This is the kind of soundtrack music that people of my generation associate with action and adventure,” he says.

Years ago, Paramount’s “Star Trek” series (primarily “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager”) averaged 44 players but sometimes reached 60 for high-profile episodes. “Murder, She Wrote” had 34. Further back, composers recalled, “Dallas” averaged 22 and “Hawaii Five-0″ 18. All won Emmys for their music.

Most composers dislike replacing real musicians with electronic sounds but are forced to use today’s high-tech tools for budgetary reasons. “Doing mocked-up ‘orchestral’ phrases is my idea of hell,” says McCreary. “It’s just really boring.”

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