Inside Bear McCreary’s ‘The Walking Dead’ Theme: Making Music Out Of ‘Nothing’

Back in August, when I happened upon fan-favorite “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Walking Dead” score composer Bear McCreary, he promised to deliver “kick-ass music” for the latter highly-anticipated (and now very successful) television series. And just to prove he’s a man of his word, MTV News was invited to visit his exclusive scoring session for the season finale, wherein McCreary discussed his inspiration for the series’ main title.

“This is more about the emptiness,” McCreary said of the show’s tone. “And when I saw some of the designs that were coming in from the main title animators, it was exactly that: empty streets, abandoned buildings, broken-down cars, children’s toys laying on the ground. I knew that we were all headed in the same direction.”

“I also wanted to create something really catchy,” he recalled. “I wanted to create something that would get stuck in your head, so that when you hear it you would think of ’The Walking Dead.’ But I also didn’t want to do a full-on theme song in the traditional sense like I did on the ’Human Target’ series, for example.”

Instead, McCreary said he went for a simplistic approach — a repetitive, “simple” little line in the strings section.

“It repeats over and over, and in fact in the pilot episode, you start hearing it before the main title begins, and this is something that continues episode to episode,” he explained. “You hear the main title music before the main title begins, so you know it’s coming.”

“That, to me, was the little hook — that little thing that, whenever you hear it, it takes you to the series,” he added. “It takes you to that dark and lonely, spooky place, and that was really my inspiration for writing the main title.”

According to McCreary, the absence of music throughout much of the series makes it even more important to create the proper tone with the opportunities available.

“It’s a neat concept because you know when you’re watching a teaser of a series you know the main title is coming,” he said. “There is so little music in the show that when you start hearing that string-repeating figure start getting louder and louder, you know that something is about to happen, and it creates this fun sense of anticipation and excitement.”

Excitement indeed. Stay tuned for more from this amazing interview and experience.

Oh, and wait until you hear how McCreary came up with the music for the zombies (or, as they’re called in the series, “walkers”) and even better, what he’s got cookin’ for the season finale!

What do you think of McCreary’s music for “The Walking Dead” so far? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!