David Vanacore can rightly be called the king of reality television: via his David Vanacore Productions in Los Angeles, the prolific composer has provided scoring and other musical elements for leading reality series including Survivor (series 1 through 10), The Apprentice (season 1, 2 and 3), both seasons of Joe Millionaire and The Restaurant, Temptation Island, Paradise Hotel and reality-TV’s newest big hit, The Contender. Other credits for this accomplished musician and composer include touring stints with Poco and Cher, scoring for actor Steven Segal’s upcoming feature film, and a role as musical advisor on the Grammy Award-winning Ray Charles tribute album, Genius Loves Company. Vanacore’s ability to create believable soundscapes for reality television is dramatically enhanced by the Lexicon 960L Multi-Channel Digital Effects System, which gives his music added dimension.
Vanacore works from a personal studio in his home; it is intricately wired to provide a number of different ambience spaces all routed back to the control room/living room. He notes that often he has to create the sense of large orchestral spaces using only keyboard-based instrumentation, and must ensure that his underscores complement each show’s musical signatures. “A good recent example of that is The Contender. Composer Hans Zimmer scored the theme using a strong emphasis on French horns — a very Gladiator type of sound,” Vanacore explains. “I have to thread my scoring in and out of his theme. Sometimes I’ll subtly replace the real French horns with synthesizer ones. That’s when I realized what the 960L is really capable of. It gets me incredibly close to the sound that Hans achieved using eight actual French horns in a large studio. Viewers never hear the shift from the real ones to the synthesizers, because the Lexicon’s sound is as real as it gets. All the dimensions of a large orchestra are in that system.”
Vanacore is also looking forward to how the 960L will help as television moves into the high-definition era, bringing its audio into 5.1 — a mission for which the eight-channel 960L is particularly well-suited. Meanwhile, its multi-channel capability lets him split the unit’s eight separate reverbs to both his main control room and a second programming suite in the studio. “I can get Lexicon sound in any room in the house,” he says. “That’s good, because I happen to love the way the 960L sounds. It’s amazingly inspiring.” Vanacore confirms he’ll be taking Lexicon’s 960L with him when he moves into his new 3,000-square-foot studio space that is nearing completion.