Reading books is something I rarely do anymore. I used to read a lot in my youth, but I borrowed most of my books from the library and, as a result, there are not many books on my shelves. I do, however, own some, including the Foundation trilogy, written by Isaac Asimov, and I was quite happy when I found out that there was a new TV show Foundation coming out on Apple TV+, based on these books. The announcement of the show itself was not the only good news, because I heard about it when Bear McCreary, one of my favorite composers at the moment, announced on his social media platforms that he would be responsible for writing the music.
One of McCreary’s strong points is his theme writing, and there are obviously thematic ideas to be found in the music for Foundation. The title’s theme can be heard in “Foundation Main Title,” which is also, unsurprisingly, the main theme for the show, and it represents The Foundation, which is a concept in the story to save humanity. It is quite an interesting theme, with a wonderful story behind it. The foundation of The Foundation is math, and McCreary found a brilliant way to incorporate the concept of mathematics into his score, by feeding the sound of an instrument into a computer, which then generates all kinds of patterns that McCreary can use in his score. What makes McCreary one of the best composers for media is his understanding of what kind of music a show needs. The mathematical patterns add a very wonderful atmospheric layer, but, as McCreary mentions in the video seen below, he still needed an orchestra to support all the powerful emotions. His vision for the show can be heard perfectly in the Foundation theme, which is a beautiful orchestral theme that has a recognizable melody and the mathematical atmosphere playing in the background.
If you are familiar with McCreary’s music, you will know that he likes to create many themes for all kinds of characters and concepts. Since this album does only contain the highlights of the first season of the show, some of them can only be heard once, with “Anacreon“ being a good example. Some other themes, however, do appear more often. The second important theme is for one of the main characters, Gaal Dornick. The gorgeous, slow and emotional melody is introduced on a duduk in “Gaal Leaves Synnax,” in which it slowly transforms into a magnificent orchestral piece. The final theme I would like to mention is for the empire, and it is a short melody of longer notes, which sounds like it is performed on some kind of amplified cello. It sounds quite emotional and human, which is in contrast to what you would expect for this big influential empire. It can be heard, for example, at the start of “Visions and Arrest”. In the final part of “Journey to Trantor” you can hear a more heroic and orchestral version of the same theme.
Most tracks on the album are wonderful pieces of music with one or more themes integrated into them, and they should be listened to at least once. Two of them deserve some extra attention, and both involve some gorgeous vocals by McCreary’s partner Raya Yarbrough. The first is the ten-minute cue “The Dream of Cleon the First,” which is a gorgeous emotional track that includes the Empire’s theme, but also Yarbrough’s soothing voice, performing a wonderful song. After watching another episode while I am writing this review, I found out that the melody of the song is meant as a theme for the android Demerzel. The second vocal highlight is “The Chant Of The Luminous,” which, as the title states, is a vocal piece, and it sounds like a choir in which only Yarbrough is performing, singing each layer.
When I first started listening to this album, I liked it but I was not really impressed. Only after reading and hearing more about the backstory of the score, and listening to it in more detail, did it start to grow on me. The music is not as bombastic as the music for Battlestar Galactica, God of War or Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but that does not mean the music is less in quality. McCreary is able to always come up with excellent music for a movie, game or television show, as is the case with Foundation. I am only halfway through watching this season, and I am looking forward to seeing where the show goes, and how McCreary’s music fits in it.
Listen or buy
The highlights are in bold.
- Foundation Main Title (1:26)
- The Only Story (2:45)
- Gaal Leaves Synnax (4:04)
- Journey to Trantor (4:03)
- The Imperial Library (3:49)
- Visions and Arrest (4:57)
- The Trial of Hari Seldon (5:06)
- Star Bridge (4:37)
- Over the Horizon (4:11)
- The Promise of the Imperium (5:26)
- Escape Pod (4:53)
- The Dream of Cleon the First (10:18)
- Anacreon (2:00)
- The Chant Of The Luminous (2:45)
- Foundation End Credits (1:04)
Total length: 1 hour and 1 minute