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: 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: When did you first start playing music?
Anne Bryant: I started picking out melodies on my Godmotherâ€™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 pianoâ€”he was a great musicianâ€” 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 partsâ€”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: At what age did you realize you had musical talent and started
Anne Bryant: I remember hearing music in my head when I was in my crib. It
Hotrod: Did you always know you wanted a career in music, if not
Anne Bryant: I wrote my fist song when I was four. I was very proud of that song â€“ it was a great little kidâ€™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 â€œSeemoresâ€™ 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 thatâ€” he loved the storyâ€” 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 dentistâ€”I know, thatâ€™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 â€œThe Pepsodent Kids.â€ 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.â€” 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 didâ€”and I admired him so muchâ€”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 dentistâ€™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].
Hotrod: Many people have a hard time making it in the music industry.
Anne Bryant: When I was 11, I embarked on a study of all of the pop music I
Hotrod: If you had to give one reason as to why you enjoy composing
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 itâ€”thatâ€™s where the skill, the technique comes in. Personally, composing music completely overtakes me so that I canâ€™t really worry about anything else. Thatâ€™s a blessing!
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 Iâ€™ve written because it came to me like a shot: I looked at the script, I heard the song finished in my headâ€”instantlyâ€”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: 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 underscoringâ€”instrumental. There are often very precise timings and musical motifs that represent characters; itâ€™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 kidâ€™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: 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: How did you get the job to compose the Transformers theme song?
Anne Bryant: When Ford and I were on staff at Spence Michlinâ€™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 Hasbroâ€™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: Fans still enjoy the original Transformers theme today, how
Anne Bryant: It feels very good. Iâ€™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: Did you enjoy the Transformers cartoon? If so did you ever
Anne Bryant: Iâ€™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 movieâ€”everyone does!!!
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: Weâ€™re in good shape with that, although it has been a long struggle. The rulings have been favorable to us, but itâ€™s not over yet. However, itâ€™s wonâ€™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; itâ€™s a lot to unravel, but itâ€™s definitely worth the effort
Hotrod: Now letâ€™s talk about something you are currently working on,
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.
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: 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 Iâ€™d plan to pitch to Apple.
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 didnâ€™t call us to write music for the animated film, but Iâ€™m not at all surprised that the Hollywood film is being done by a strictly Hollywood crowdâ€”a Hollywood composer [I think they got Jablonsky]. Iâ€™m eager to hear the score and I expect that it will be excellent.
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 20â€™s, where I wrote music for the Hollywood film scene. But Iâ€™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 Iâ€™m older. So, Iâ€™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: Is there anything you would like to say to the fans that enjoy
Anne Bryant: Yes,