As stated earlier,
the first session for Battle of the Planets was likely
for the theme song. No documentation of its recording is known
to exist so we have no solid details about it. But the recording
sessions for the rest of the music were very well documented and
everything has survived. The sessions took place on four separate
dates in late 1978, the first commencing less than a month before
Battle of the Planets would make its North American syndicated
television premiere in late September.
August 29, 1978 saw
the beginning of music sessions for the Battle of the Planets score. This first session was recorded in Studio A of the MCA/Whitney
Recording Studios in Glendale, CA. This particular location was much sought
after for its pipe organ which can be heard in numerous religious
and inspirational recordings as well as film soundtracks. Recording at MCA/Whitney
took place from approximately 10:00am to 2:30pm. A full selection
of twenty six musicians were used. Many of the same performers
showed up for all four sessions, with only a few differences depending
on what instrumentation was needed. Hoyt Curtin and Paul DeKorte
oversaw the sessions in addition to Frank Kejmar, an employee
of the studio who was engineer for all of the MCA/Whitney dates.
Curtin acted as conductor while Paul DeKorte was
the producer for all of the Battle of the Planets music
sessions (and nearly all of Curtin's other recording sessions).
He was a close friend of Curtin's and the two worked side-by-side
on many Hanna-Barbera projects. Curtin was usually in the Musical
Director role while DeKorte took the Musical Supervisor role.
Contracts show that Curtin and DeKorte budgeted for an extra half
hour to an hour of time in the studio for themselves after each
session to arrange for tape copying, log work and other
tasks for which the musicians did not need to be present.
The pieces recorded
on August 29 included some of the key series music such as the
Ready Room Disco, and BP-1 - Zark's Theme with all
of its variants. In total, twenty-one major pieces were recorded
this day, along with sixteen alternate endings, variant versions
and quick "sting" pieces that could be plugged in whenever needed.
The second recording
session took place in MCA/Whitney's Studio A on September 6, 1978.
This session used the same number of musicians and took place
at roughly the same times as the first session. A further eighteen
major pieces were recorded on this day, along with approximately
twelve alternate endings and a couple variant pieces. Spacey
Mysterioso and Zoltar were probably the most recognizable
compositions to be recorded this day.
The third session
at MCA/Whitney took place on September 14, 1978. The main Studio
A was again used for these recordings, which included a few less
musicians than the previous two sessions. Fifteen major pieces
were recorded on this date, along with eight alternate endings
and six variant pieces. Another selection of sting pieces was
also recorded. BP - Teenage Mysterioso and BP - Bad
Guys vs. Good Guys were among the major tracks laid down in
this session. Curtin and DeKorte budgeted for even more extra
time in the studio than normal after the musicians left on this
For the final Battle
of the Planets music session on October 13, 1978, the famed
United/Western Recording Studios in Hollywood were used. The session
was recorded in Studio 1, the very same studio in which Frank
Sinatra recorded his hit That's Life, and where a good chunk of The
Beach Boys' Pet Sounds LP was recorded. The session engineer
for these recordings was Chuck Britz, who, among countless other
impressive credits, was the The Beach Boys' engineer from 1962-1967.
The musician makeup
was roughly the same as the first two sessions at MCA/Whitney.
They recorded sixteen major pieces on this day, along with twelve
alternate endings and a couple variant versions. A few of the
key pieces tackled during this session were 1-Rover-1,
Transmute and Fight Between People. One of the alternate
endings to the 1-Rover-1 piece brought the Battle of
the Planets music sessions to a close.
By all accounts and
evidence on the session tapes, the recordings were done in a fun
atmosphere and all went very smoothly. Most pieces were completed
within two to four takes and were seemingly easy for the performers
to handle. A couple pieces tie for the most difficult to capture
though, each running to seven takes before they were completed
to everyone's satisfaction; they were Zoltar (9/6) and
the mellow Love Theme (10/13). BP - Bad Guys
vs. Good Guys (9/14) is also listed as requiring seven takes
to complete (the master is called "Take 7"), but the
call for take five was accidentally skipped by the engineer so
take seven was only the sixth attempt at recording the piece.
All of the sessions
were recorded to heavy, two-inch, twenty-four track audio tape. Most were
recorded at 15ips (inches per second), but a couple were captured
at 30ips. The entire output consisted of about ten full tapes
(one session had additional tape spliced onto it and was barely
contained on the reel!). Thankfully the multi-track tapes still
exist in pristine condition. Rarely were all twenty-four tracks
used. For most pieces the instrumentation took up between eighteen
to twenty tracks.
As everything was
recorded, meticulous records were kept of each title, its running
time, take count and other details. This was a necessary step
because the tapes were not edited until after the sessions were
completed. The editors had to know what takes of each piece were
considered to be "best," so they needed the notes to
avoid mistakenly processing the wrong take for the final version. In addition to the
session notes, the engineer was also tasked with keeping track
of which instrument was recorded on each specific track. This
information was crucial for the final mixing stages.
It was the job of
Curtin and DeKorte to pull out the best takes of each piece and
mix them down to two-track stereo. This was a relatively easy
step since they each knew how they wanted the pieces to sound,
and there was little mixing variance between the pieces' track
Once this stage
was complete, the final stereo mixes were compiled and copied
onto quarter-inch audio tape reels. They were delivered (along
with the full twenty four track session tapes) to Gallerie International
Films as contracted. Even though these quarter-inch compilation
tapes were in stereo, the final inclusion of the music in Battle
of the Planets would be in mono.
At this point, Hoyt
Curtin's job was finished. He recalled his
job duties for Battle of the Planets, "I was to compose,
conduct, hire the band and generally do everything as far as music
was concerned. (Then) deliver it on tape to Gallerie Productions." But it was more than just another job, he said that this score, along with
the one for Jonny Quest, were two of his favorites, simply
because they gave him the chance to create different types of
musical libraries than he was used to.
Curtin had no say
in where or how the music he recorded was going to be used in
Battle of the Planets. That task was left up to the film
editors and another gentleman brought in to specifically to oversee
the addition of the new music.
Next, a brief
look at how Hoyt Curtin's new music was included in Battle
of the Planets...