The Legend of Korra composer Jeremy Zukerman recently chatted with Hypable about composing for television, an unexpected soundtrack, and the times when he just has to freak out.

What is your process of composing a piece of music for The Legend of Korra?

We start with what’s called a spotting session. Ben Wynn (lead sound designer for Korra and my business partner), Aran Tanchum (foley recordist for Korra), Bryan Konietzko (co-creator) and Mike DiMartino (co-creator) meet at Nickelodeon where we analyze the episode we’re about to begin working on. We talk about the music and sound design needs simultaneously which is fairly uncommon in the industry. It’s a good way to make sure there’s cohesion among the audio elements though. I leave with a good understanding of the music needs of the episode.

After the spotting session, I have two weeks to hand in a music preview. Of course I really only have about four solid days to compose as I’m finalizing the previous episode. That involves any revisions that have come from Bryan and Mike, prepping the music notation for recording sessions (thankfully I have a couple good people help me with that – it’s a ton of work), proofreading and tweaking the notation, recording strings, recording Hong Wang (Chinese multi-instrumentalist), editing recorded material, mixing and prepping the session which goes to the dub session (where all the audio elements are brought together – dialog, foley, sound design and music).

The actual process of composing might be very boring to watch! It’s a lot of me freaking out about how time is running out and then writing due to having no more time to freak out. I work at a computer and sometimes work with pencil and paper when it makes sense to do so. I’ve even recorded my voice to picture and used that as a map. I recently did that on a very orchestrally dense, fairly long action cue. First I recorded my voice, then I made an orchestral sketch on paper using the voice as a map. And finally I fleshed it out on the computer. There are many processes that work for me. It really depends on the type of cue and my mood…

What is your favorite part of that process?

I think it’s hearing the music come to life when we record the musicians. The simplest compositional idea will really spring to life and it’s really satisfying to record something that wasn’t mocked up in the demo because it can only be done by humans… Experiments or ideas that are realized. It’s especially nice when those ideas actually work. Ha!

Also, composing is a very solitary task and I really, really like the musicians on The Legend of Korra. Interacting with them breathes life into the process and gets me fired up.

What is the most challenging aspect of composing for The Legend of Korra?

Definitely sustaining the work flow. TV is brutal in its relentlessness. And Korra is very ambitious in every facet. It demands something way above and beyond and to not deliver isn’t an option to me personally. So there are many days where the energy and the inspiration isn’t there…but you still have to bring the A game.

Has working on The Legend of Korra been different from working on Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Very different. The nature of the anxiety has changed. It went from ‘how do I do this?’ to ‘how do I do this in time?’

I think I’m much better at what I do now. I feel more in control of the work and when I experiment it feels more specific and satisfying.

Also, The Legend of Korra tone is quite a bit more mature and with the live musicians (something I didn’t have for Avatar: The Last Airbender.) I feel like I can sometimes score Korra more like it’s a live action show, more minimal and subtle. Of course there are still plenty of grandiose epic moments.

Has working on Book 2 been different from working on Book 1?

Yeah, again I’ve learned a lot about working with the string sextet and Hong. In the beginning there was a lot more searching around in the dark (which can be really useful). And now with Book 2 there is a musical history and aesthetic in place. Still, Book 2 is very different than Book 1 in story and tone so it requires almost entirely new material. There are new instruments, themes, techniques, etc.

Is there anything special that viewers should listen for in the music of Book 2?

I wouldn’t want to color anyone’s experience. Viewers have made connections and noticed things I wasn’t even aware of as the composer! I’m excited to hear from them.

Do you have a favorite musical moment in the show so far?

Not one in particular. There is a recurring canonic idea based on gamelan that’s been fun to explore. I think episode 1×20 has some special musical moments. It’s also beautiful visually (no big surprise there, though it’s a stylistic departure).

Fans were really excited to see The Legend of Korra soundtrack released, and the response has been amazing. What has that been like for you?

I knew there was a fan base but I was not prepared for the reception. I’ve been flooded with email, tweets and Facebook messages from people who have had extremely profound experiences with the music. It’s incredible to me. I feel awful that I haven’t been able to respond to everyone but I am beyond grateful and touched.

Do you think we might get our hands on an Avatar: The Last Airbender soundtrack at some point?

There’s a decent chance of that happening. Especially because of the success of the Legend of Korra soundtrack. But it will be a TON of work and take a while to do. All that material was done on old computers and no longer supported software. And I would have to re-record some material, get some live musicians in, etc. If I’m going to do it, it has to be awesome… I think I may need to assemble a small team to put it all back together but I think it needs to be done.

If you could be a bender, what would you bend?

I thought I was an airbender… Isn’t making music airbending?

For more about Jeremy Zuckerman…

Jeremy Zuckerman grew up in New York and first worked in music as a CD shrink-wrapper. One half of the music and sound design team The Track Team, Jeremy plays many instruments, including guitar and something called a duduk. You can connect with Jeremy on Facebook and on Twitter as @JeremyZuckerman. For more information, check out his personal website at JeremyZuckerman.com.

The Legend of Korra: Original Music From Book One is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Come back for daily ‘Legend of Korra’ coverage and join in the conversation with hashtag #SeptBender!

The film adaptation of Wicked is currently in production and Stephen Schwartz revealed at Comic Con that the film will feature plenty of new songs!

Warm up those vocal pipes and get your best “Defying Gravity” cape dry cleaned, the Wicked film is gearing up for production at long last! The Broadway hit, currently in its 13th year, has had audiences clamoring for a filmed production since Idina Menzel Kristin Chenoweth brought Elphba and Glinda to life. Now, that dream is becoming a reality, but probably not with the original cast.

At the CW3PR’s 8th Annual Behind-The-Music: Crime, Death and Resurrection Panel at Comic Con, Stephen Schwartz the man behind the music of Wicked appeared to announce that the film will feature songs both old and new. The “old” of course includes songs from the stage production such as “Defying Gravity,” “Popular,” and most likely, “One Fine Day.” But it also includes songs that were written and cut from the production before its Broadway opening.

Winnie Holzman will be writing the screenplay as she also wrote the book to the stage show based on Gregory Maguire’s novel. Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) is attached to direct.

You can watch Schwartz’s announcement from the panel below!

Now its time to start some casting speculations! It is my hope that the casting director sticks with strong Broadway talent to carry the roles. The musical has enough of a following to garner a strong viewership, but it also wouldn’t hurt to throw Menzel and Chenoweth in for a cameo or two!

Wicked is expected to hit theaters in December 2019.

U! S! A! U! S! A! A new Fantastic Beasts poster debuting at San Diego Comic-Con has American pride peppered into the design, giving us a hint at the film’s plot.

The film’s official social media channels unveiled Fantastic Beasts’ SDCC poster on Friday morning, just a day before the movie hosts a panel at the conference with the cast and crew. Presumably these posters will be handed out on the show floor, and/or at the Fantastic Beasts event.

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There’s a lot to unpack in this poster, which features Newt and a brightly lit “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” sign.

Newt is looking over his shoulder in the middle, holding a wand in one hand and a suitcase (with a beast trying to get out!) in the other. Supporting characters Graves, Jacob, Queenie, and Tina appear in the wings. Also here: Our very first looks at two female characters. We believe the one in the bottom left is Mary Lou, played by Samantha Morton. The guy on the right is Credence played by Ezra Miller.

So what’s with the American flags? They’re not only to remind fans that the movie is set in New York — We believe they’re teasing an election of some sort. The last Fantastic Beasts trailer briefly depicted a political event (See a screenshot below). We’re guessing an election will be taking place over the course of the movie with possible ramifications for the well-being of the North American Wizarding World.

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Fantastic Beasts opens this November. Return to Hypable on Saturday to check out our coverage of everything that happens during the movie’s panel!

Have a round, or two, with Lin-Manuel Miranda when he steps in to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton on Drunk History.

Comedy Central is keeping Lin-Manuel Miranda connected to Hamilton for a little while longer by setting the scribe up on the next season of Drunk History to spin another verse about the founding father. The show will concentrate on the rivalry between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel that resulted in SPOILER Hamilton’s death.

Hamilton was the first subject that the series took on in season one. With the rising success of the Broadway hit, fans clamored for Lin-Manuel Miranda to give Alexander Hamilton a reprise on the series.

Miranda is not throwing away his shot at telling another version of Hamilton’s decision to throw away his on the shores of New Jersey in 1804. Even though Miranda stepped away from the show on July 9, we expect to see him sticking close to the production for quite a while, especially as the show begins performances across the nation.

Miranda was not the only guest announced for Drunk History‘s fourth season. Joining him will be Aubrey Plaza, Ben Folds, Billie Joe Armstrong, Busy Phillips, Dave Grohl, Ed Helms, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Charles, Mae Whitman, Michael Cera, Rachel Bilson, and Tony Hale, to name a few.

Raise a glass!


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Drunk History returns for its fourth season on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 10:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.