Anne Bryant Talks About Her Love of Music

 

Some fans may not know who Anne Bryant is, however, they should. Bryant is the composer of original Transformers theme song. Just about every Transformers fan knows every word to the original theme song. There have been a few imitations of the theme over the years, including the Transformers Cybertron opening, but none of them have been able to replace the original. Bryant had been out of the spotlight for some time working on her Masterclick program until news of her lawsuit against Sunbow and BMI for money owed made news.

Unfortunately many fans forgot who Anne Bryant was until news of her lawsuit against Sunbow and BMI for money she is owed made news. The woman who created one of the best know theme songs has agreed to talk with Hotrod about creating the original Transformers theme song and much more!


Hotrod Hotrod: Before I begin I would like to thank you again for agreeing to do this interview.


Anne Bryant: It is my pleasure to be interviewed by you, Billy.



Hotrod Hotrod: When did you first start playing music?


Anne Bryant: I started picking out melodies on my Godmother’s piano when I was about three years old. My Godmother, Betty had a neighbor, a dignified old, black gentleman named Eubie Blake, who was a famous songwriter and ragtime piano player. Mr. Blake used to sit me on his lap and give me two or three notes to play, and then he would improvise a song all around my notes. He really swung hard on the piano—he was a great musician— so almost immediately, I realized that I could play my notes in rhythm to his groove, so that I could make my three-note part hipper. Mr. Blake liked my parts—he liked my rhythm sense, I guess, so he told my mother that she should look into early music lessons for me and get me a piano ASAP. So, I got into the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the prodigy program when I was five; and, my mother gave me my first piano for my fifth birthday. I still have that sweet little Knabe Spinet in my office.



Hotrod Hotrod: At what age did you realize you had musical talent and started
to take music seriously?


Anne Bryant: I remember hearing music in my head when I was in my crib. It
just took a couple of years for me to figure out what the sounds were. I thought they were kind of like my playmates. So, I told my mother, Dorothy about the sounds and she was smart and took me to the symphony. After two or three times there [I loved it] I realized that the sounds were orchestral instruments and I told my mother that I could hear an orchestra in my head. She praised me for that and told me that she wanted to keep this our special secret. She said: “Anne, don’t tell anyone else about your orchestra—just let’s keep it between you and me.” When I got older, I realized that she did that because she didn’t want anyone to talk me out of what I was hearing. She told me: “Just keep listening to your orchestra always. It’s your special present for God.” I’m so very lucky that she was my mother. She protected my talent.



Hotrod Hotrod: Did you always know you wanted a career in music, if not
what did you want to be?


Anne Bryant: I wrote my fist song when I was four. I was very proud of that song – it was a great little kid’s tune -- and never forgot it. So, 33 years later, when my client, Joe Bacal [chairman & creative director of Griffin Bacal Advertising]sent me a script for a product called “Seemores’ that was a toy for four year olds, I looked at the script and I started to hear my first tune and I realized that it tracked perfectly to the Seemores lyric. So, I told Joe about all that— he loved the story— then I played my song for him and he accepted it on the spot. Other than music, however, there was a time when I wanted to be a doctor or a dentist. Yes, a dentist—I know, that’s strange. But when I was 9, I won a NY State Science Fair competition because of an exhibit I created about teeth. I actually made a set of teeth for my exhibit out of Plaster of Paris. But the real story about my fascination with teeth is two fold: First, beginning when I was 2 ½ and continuing until I was 7, I was a child printmodel for Pepsodent toothpaste. There were six of us kids and we were called “The Pepsodent Kids.” The idea was that we would grow up in front of the camera, so every month there were new pictures of us, with our pretty little baby teeth smiles, in leading magazines, like LIFE and LOOK, etc.— and the public got to watch us grow up. And, of course, Pepsodent provided us with our own dentist and hygenist, who took very good care of us and taught us about caring for our teeth. So, to this day, I have always been fanatical about caring for my teeth. I really like teeth a lot! Second, my personal dentist growing up, Dr. Cave was a great friend of my parents. He taught me to play golf and taught me even more about teeth than the Pepsodent people did—and I admired him so much—to the extent that I wanted to be just like him. He even gave my very own set of dental mirrors and bought me a dentist’s uniform for my birthday. So there was a time there when I was weighing being a dentist like Dr. Cave, or going to Med school to specialize in pediatrics, like my mother. [Little girls are crazy about babies at that age; I certainly was].

So this was my dental-doctor-detour period. But it was over by
the time I was 10, when I started studying jazz piano and songwriting seriously. And that was when I started hanging out
in recording studios to watch the sessions.



Hotrod Hotrod: Many people have a hard time making it in the music industry.
How did you go about pursuing your career in music?


Anne Bryant: When I was 11, I embarked on a study of all of the pop music I
cold get my hands on. I listened to the orchestration—the arrangements, so that I could decide for myself if I thought I
could write like those great arrangers one day; and there were
no women orchcestral arrangers back then, so I had to be sure
in my mind that I felt I could learn to be an arranger, which for me is an extension of being a composer. So, I thought that I could, but I wanted to watch some recording session first, so that I could get an idea of all it entailed. And one day, I had the bright idea of telephoning my favorite of the arrangers, Peter Matz, who had an office in NYC. Peter answered his own phone that day, so I blurted out that I was 11 and that I thought he was the best writer out there and that I wanted to be an arranger just like him…and I asked him
if I could watch him work on the studio some time. He said,
“yes” – and the first session I got to watch was the recording
session for Barbra Streisand’s first album. Wow! Rather quickly, I became the go-fer at Peter [and Barbra’s] sessions. You know, go-fer some coffee, or, run back to the
office and get something that was forgotten, etc. [a meager
price to pay for that experience]. And as luck would have it, I also met Harold Arlen [the great songwriter who wrote
Somewhere Over the Rainbow and many more hit songs] and Liza Minnelli at other sessions. Liza let me write some arrangements for her weekend band, and later, introduced me
to her, Judy Garland…and so on: I made a lot of connections in my teens. Concurrently, I was fortunate to attend the High School of Music & Art [NYC] where I had the opportunity to write for the Jazz Band nearly every day. And then I did my undergrad studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where I studied with Manny Albam and Rayburn Wright, the best contemporary composition-arranging teachers around. And in the third or fourth year there, Manny hooked me up with Gerry Mulligan, for whom I did orchestrations. So, by the time I was 21, I was connected and ready to work in the music business as a young professional.



Hotrod Hotrod: If you had to give one reason as to why you enjoy composing
music, what would it be?


Anne Bryant: I have no control over the constant stream of music that runs through my mind 24-7, and I am steadily entertained by it. And also, I do like to develop it—that’s where the skill, the technique comes in. Personally, composing music completely overtakes me so that I can’t really worry about anything else. That’s a blessing!



Hotrod Hotrod: You composed music for the movies, T.V. shows, and the cartoons, Transformers and Jem. Which project was your favorite and why?


Anne Bryant: I wrote only the theme for Transformers, but the Transformers theme was the most special piece of music I’ve written because it came to me like a shot: I looked at the script, I heard the song finished in my head—instantly—then I went to the piano and played it for myself. It was perfect and it was, hands down, the best choice. And I can tell you that I always knew that it was an important song. The Jem show was a great project and I really loved writing the music for it.



Hotrod Hotrod: What are the differences when composing music for a movie versus a cartoon show?


Anne Bryant: There are a number of differences. Broadly speaking, music for film is usually dramatic underscoring—instrumental. There are often very precise timings and musical motifs that represent characters; it’s classically based composition for the most part. And the music generally unfolds and develops over a longer period that a typical song, especially the songs we did as jingles or for animated kid’s shows. If you think of cartoons as small characters and often, fastmoving, action characters, you can probably see that the musical tempos are generally faster than they might be for a record release of the same song. And this would also hold true for the background underscore, because, the pace of cartoons generally demand that; they really move!



Hotrod Hotrod: Jem and Transformers were two very different shows. Which one was more challenging to work on?


Anne Bryant: As I said above, I wrote only the theme music for the Transformers, and I did many arrangements of my theme for jingles, etc. So, Jem was definitely more challenging, because it was a big and an on-going songwriting and arranging job. I wrote the Jem theme, and we wrote about 160 feature songs; I did all of the arrangements and production. It was a blast! But, it was a staggering amount of work to add to our schedule every week, because Ford Kinder and I had a busy jingle business.



Hotrod Hotrod: How did you get the job to compose the Transformers theme song?


Anne Bryant: When Ford and I were on staff at Spence Michlin’s music company, we wrote music for Joe Bacal when he was first opening his advertising company, Griffin Bacal and his TV production company, Sunbow. A couple of years later, when we formed Kinder & Bryant, Joe gave the chance to compete for the music for Hasbro’s new toy, the Transformers; it was our first of many jobs for them. Naturally, after the success of Transformers, we became a major music supplier for that client.



Hotrod Hotrod: Fans still enjoy the original Transformers theme today, how
does that make you feel?


Anne Bryant: It feels very good. I’m so glad that they have used my theme all of these years. And I make no secret of how much I love the fans and appreciate all of them! Thank you, all.



Hotrod Hotrod: Did you enjoy the Transformers cartoon? If so did you ever
have a favorite character?


Anne Bryant: I’m sorry to say that I was in the studio round-the-clock in those days, so I never got to watch the shows with any regularity, but I did see a few shows, and I was fully familiar with the plot lines and character names, because we were writing commercials and singing their names all the time. I did see the 1986 movie and I like it a lot; I saw it on my birthday on Broadway. That was special. And the actors were terrific, big-time actors with great voices. And I look forward to seeing the Dreamworks movie—everyone does!!!



Hotrod Hotrod: Recently you filed a lawsuit against Sunbow and BMI for money you are owed for your hard work. Can you tell us how the suit is going at this time?


Anne Bryant: We’re in good shape with that, although it has been a long struggle. The rulings have been favorable to us, but it’s not over yet. However, it’s won’t be too much longer until the accountings are done so that we can settle it. You know, these companies are bought and sold and I guess people and contracts get lost in the shuffle; it’s a lot to unravel, but it’s definitely worth the effort



Hotrod Hotrod: Now let’s talk about something you are currently working on,
Masterclick. What exactly is Masterclick?


Anne Bryant: MasterClick is a desktop software program I created that calculates musical tempos and film frames and converts them into exact timings, so that a composer, an editor and an animator can easily design or measure music to fit the dramatic film timings precisely.

For example, in a film, if music is just going along in the background of a scene and nothing special is happening, and then, a character opens up the widow and jumps out, the music would reflect the change in action. In order to do that, a composer would need to plan for the music to change at the right beat to correlate to the precise film frame in which the action occurred.

If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is. And that’s why I created MasterClick: to make this complicated process, which involves music and action and math, a simple one for busy, media professionals. My slogan is, “You’ve got enough to do; let MasterClick do the math.”



Hotrod Hotrod: Where did you come up with the idea for Masterclick?


Anne Bryant: It started when I was doing my doctoral thesis. First I wrote the book on the subject of music and math for film, called CUT TO THE CHASE; then, while programming some examples for the book, I realized that I could create the MasterClick software.



Hotrod Hotrod: Has the product been as successful as you hoped?


Anne Bryant: It is for a small niche market; but yes, it has sold to the music pros. But I am just now beginning to market both products and I hope to develop an LE version next year for Garage Band/iMovie users that I’d plan to pitch to Apple.



Hotrod Hotrod: Before we end, many fans want to know, has anyone ever approached you about doing music for the upcoming Transformers Movie?


Anne Bryant: No. I was disappointed in 1986 when they didn’t call us to write music for the animated film, but I’m not at all surprised that the Hollywood film is being done by a strictly Hollywood crowd—a Hollywood composer [I think they got Jablonsky]. I’m eager to hear the score and I expect that it will be excellent.



Hotrod Hotrod: One last question: What can we expect to see from Anne Bryant in the near or not too far future?


Anne Bryant: I lived in LA for a few years when I was in my early 20’s, where I wrote music for the Hollywood film scene. But I’m a native New Yorker and I missed home, so returned to NY and I gave up my film scoring ambitions back then, always with the thought that this was music I would want to write when I’m older. So, I’m working toward finding the right agent to get scoring work for film and TV; but now, I can stay in New York [or Florida in the dead of winter] and do my writing on this coast.



Hotrod Hotrod: Is there anything you would like to say to the fans that enjoy
your work?


Anne Bryant: Yes,

You have made the Transformers the success it is. And you have made my theme long-lasting and rewarding. I can’t thank you enough for your enthusiasm and your ingenuity. I have met and spoken many Transfans over the years, and I am so pleased to have found such a great group of young adults, with whom I will always share a unique bond. God Bless you all. And thank you for your passion.


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