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 Posted:   Feb 23, 2011 - 5:05 AM   
 By:   The REAL BJBien   (Member)

As request by "Giacchino-fan"

I had the pleasure of interview Joseph LoDuca in regards to his work on SPARTACUS - BLOOD AND SAND. Its an amazing soundtrack and along with THE PACIFIC was on my BEST MUSIC FOR A TV or MINI SERIES of 2010 Best of List [with HUMAN TARGET just missing the cut].

As always a very special thanks to Mr. LoDuca for his time and to Kathie Stork for her help and my editor Andy.


1 - How did the project SPARTACUS - BLOOD AND SAND come to you?

My career as a film composer began with Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, with their first film EVIL DEAD. I am proud to say we are still making great music together. I have scored nearly all of their work for television, as well as several films. We had finished our first season of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER for Disney when SPARTACUS was commissioned.

2 - What were some of the first cues you came up with?

Most often I like to address scenes that will unlock big pieces of the puzzle; that will suggest themes or the palette of sounds for the project. In the case of SPARTACUS, the love scene with Spartacus’ wife, Sura, was one of the first cues I wrote. It is a Middle Eastern-inspired melody, so initially it had very little harmonic movement. There was a reaction that it was not quite romantic enough for the female audience, so I filled out the strings. That worked to bridge the cultural gap.

Next I tackled a fight in the arena. Because of the graphic novel/bullet time visual devices used, I knew I could work in just about anything, and Middle Eastern metal was definitely in consideration. What I found was that if I started out with orchestra or tribal drumming and saved the rock approach until the fight went into third gear, an audience could not only buy that approach, but we could all have fun with it!

3 - What is writing process like when dealing with a project that
spans 13 hours?

Because there are no commercials, premium cable shows are ten minutes longer. So there are a few more post days allotted to SPARTACUS than on a weekly commercial TV series with a 22 order. Still, between the ethnic sessions, the orchestra and choir music to record, produce and mix, and the amount of instruments I play myself, it is a tall order. I play about 80% of the ethnic instruments on the score, and there is also a fair amount of custom sound design. So I approach SPARTACUS as I would a big-budget feature film. The schedule however, is compressed into a few weeks instead of few months.

4 - You were able to incorporate various elements in to the score from
orchestral marches, male and female vocal chants, to heavy metal rock.
Can you tell me
how you came up with these choices?

My choices for a wide-ranging score with enormous amounts of freedom come from the quality and the creativity of the show before it got to needing a score. The writing and story lines of Steve Deknight and his crew are of the highest order. This is really the stuff of Shakespeare. So the conventions of classical drama with classical music and the conventions of choir with sword and sandal genre come into play.

It gets more interesting when you add contemporary visual effects and editing techniques to the mix. That allows the music and sound design to go to some pretty hyper-real and surreal places.

Third, the graphic novel approach to sex and violence bring an element of camp, or at least of tongue in cheek. The blending of rock music with the other two musical approaches actually add to the entertainment as opposed to watering it down, as is usually the case when pop music finds its way into a dramatic score.

5 - The genre of swords, sandals, fantasy and adventure is nothing new
or XENA - WARRIOR PRINCESS among your credits. Were there any tricks
or lessons you learned along the way that you were able to use on

I call my experiences on Xena and Hercules my “masters degree in ethnomusicology”. It was during that time that I had several periods of quick, intensive study in specific musical cultures from around the world. I tried to use what I had learned in my scores respectfully, and got to work with many master musicians and vocalists, many of whom did not utter a word of English.

A few years later, Brotherhood was really the first opportunity I had to marry the ancient world with the contemporary electronic world of music because of Christof Gans’ daring visual sense.

Today the computers are more powerful, my libraries are larger, my equipment is of a higher quality, I have great engineers working with me, and I am playing better than ever. Spartacus is an ideal project to put all that firepower to good use.

6 - What cue or scene was the most difficult to score and why?

I honestly have not found anything on Spartacus difficult other than the deadlines. The cues I tend to spend the most time on are action sequences, because they require the most sound and mental arithmetic. Next are the featured montages, because I have great opportunities to have the music front and center. I relish those cues.

7 - Tell me about some of the instruments and musicians you used on
this project to give BLOOD AND SAND its unique sound?

My producers and the network executives at Starz most often bring up my use of voices. Besides a choir comprised of member of the Mormon Tabernacle, I have used the talents of singers from Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt. There is a wedding singer from Iraq who we have recorded that I swear does not need a PA for his performances. A real gladiator’s voice!

8 - How much music did you record and how much time from creation to
completion did the entire project take up?

A season of Spartacus takes up about seven months of the year, and there are easily 40 cues per episode.

9 - What can we expect to hear from you in 2011?

I am happy to report that there will be a second season of Spartacus. In addition, I will be scoring the fourth season of Leverage for TNT. I am on my way to London to perform at the premiere of a British independent film entitled PATAGONIA, that has songs I recorded with Duffy, Bryn Terfel, the world renown baritone, and Angelo Badalamenti.


You can buy SPARTACUS - BLOOD AND SAND from Varese Sarabande. Over an hour and ten mins worth of music!

You can visit Mr. Loduca's official website at -

 Posted:   Feb 23, 2011 - 6:31 AM   
 By:   Uhtred   (Member)

Great interview. I've been a fan since Army of Darkness. Hopefully we'll get a release of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

 Posted:   Feb 23, 2011 - 6:37 AM   
 By:   Uhtred   (Member)

Sorry, double post. Stupid iPhone.

 Posted:   Feb 23, 2011 - 8:07 AM   
 By:   David-R.   (Member)

I discovered LoDuca through LLL's great releases will enjoy hearing more of him once I get ahold of this. Thanks for posting the interview!

 Posted:   Feb 23, 2011 - 9:23 AM   
 By:   The REAL BJBien   (Member)

I discovered LoDuca through LLL's great releases will enjoy hearing more of him once I get ahold of this. Thanks for posting the interview!

It's well worth the money. So many good cues from the entire series and all in one disc. I can't really think of a scene that wasn't represented in the score album.

I too can't wait for GODS OF THE ARENA as it seems to have more score then the first series.

 Posted:   Jun 30, 2020 - 3:59 AM   
 By:   fekud   (Member)

I listen to this soundtrack so many times when I was in college that is memorable memories for me. I have genuine positive ideas and of my period of college.

 Posted:   Jun 30, 2020 - 6:04 AM   
 By:   BBoulle   (Member)

I just think he likes composing music for Lucy Lawless. Maybe she's his muse.

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