Television and film composer Brian Langsbard scored his first opening theme for an MLB broadcast 15 years ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. While he has provided musical scores for non-baseball-related content — from the sound of Snapped on the Oxygen network to the backdrop for Batman: The Animated Series to serious documentaries — baseball has been a continuous theme for him.
“What I like about composing for baseball, and for sports in general,” he says, “is they want the music to be big and up front, but they want a lot of detail in there, too.”
Most recently, for MLB Productions and in conjunction with A&E, Langsbard finished up a four-part doc series called Rushmore — narrated by Martin Sheen and profiling the lives and careers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron. Those documentaries are slated to air in 2016.
“Each documentary was different,” he explains. “For Lou Gehrig, we had a very traditional score because the director was using Wagner excerpts to emphasize the story of Gehrig as a tragic mythological hero. For Ted Williams, the director was more interested in a modern sound, something you might hear in a David Fincher movie. I used more synths for Williams and stayed away from sweeping melodies and motifs.”
Langsbard used the temp tracks provided as his main guide. “I had to ride the fine line of following a preconceived style while also adding my own signature style, which has become the sound for MLB over the last decade or so. Fortunately, the producers on all the documentaries did not suffer from what we call ‘temp love’ and were happy with the tracks I was provided.”
For this doc project, Langsbard worked out of his studio in Laurel Canyon, California, where he produced and mixed through his 8260A Smart Active Monitors (SAM) from Genelec. The studio hosts other gear including Logic and Pro Tools. For plug-ins he calls on Slate and Matthew Lane’s DRMS. He also likes Summit’s EQ, Avalon 747 and Manley SLAM, which he uses for occasional outboard sweetening on samples and mixes. There is also the Bricasti M7 and Lexicon 300 for reverbs. Langsbard says “the Yamaha S90_EX is my keyboard of choice. I also have some Dave Smith synths and a MOOG sub37. Oh, and a Roland V-synth, love the controller pad and D-beam.”
Regarding those 8260As, Langsbard says, “They let me zero in on particular frequencies and other details that make a huge difference in the end.” The Genelec 8260As give him that kind of specificity across all of the genres he works in, he says, which actually improves the tracks and the mixes he creates.