First page of the original contract covering the 8/29/78 Battle of the Planets music recording sessions

MCA/Whitney Studio A, where the first three Battle of the Planets music sessions were recorded

United Western Studio 1, where the final Battle of the Planets music session was recorded

An original Battle of the Planets music session log sheet from 9/6/78

An original Battle of the Planets track card from 9/14/78

An original Battle of the Planets music session log card from 10/13/78

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 day.

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 volume levels.

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...


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