Robert Duncan (composer)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Robert Duncan is a four-time Emmy-award-nominated Canadian composer of film and television music, who has composed music for such TV series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Castle; as well as films such as Butterfly on a Wheel and Into the Blue 2: The Reef. He has been associated with writer/producer Shawn Ryan, composing some of his produced TV show including The Unit, Lie to Me and more recently Timeless. He has received fourteen ASCAP awards.
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Duncan was born into a family with deep musical history. His great-grandfather arranged music for silent films in England and other relatives were closely affiliated with two of England's prominent composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. As a child he attended the Claude Watson School of the Performing Arts and in sixth grade he composed his first piece of music. At age 16 in high school, he landed his first gig scoring a promotional video for the local Board of Education. As an extra curricular activity, Duncan studied the pipe organ and trumpet before later earning a bachelor's degree in music at York University.
After graduating, Duncan spent the next 5 years apprenticing with two Canadian composers and participated in the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop. He wanted to do more, wanted to write scores for live orchestra but he thought the chances of succeeding in Canada were slim so in 2001 he moved to Los Angeles, Hollywood. Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Duncan was hired as a series composer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show later ended, but soon after he started to land his own television and film scoring assignments. Landing many small screen projects including "The Chicago Code", "Terriers", "The Gates", "Lie to Me", "The Unit", Point Pleasant, and "Tru Calling", it is his work on "Castle" that he is best known for.
The process of composing for an episode of "Castle" include sitting down with directors, producers, and creator Andrew Marlowe and watching an episode that has already been shot and edited. The group will all voice their own musical ideas for the episode and it is up to Duncan to create the score accordingly.
Duncan uses a variety of traditional and peculiar objects and instruments to create his scores. These objects include; grand pianos, deconstructed pianos, metal brushes, hot rod exhaust pipes, fire extinguishers, trumpet, guitar, pipe organ, a variety of drums, and even objects from junk yards all over Los Angeles.
Duncan made on screen appearances on "Castle" Season 4, Episode 14 “The Blue Butterfly” in the opening scene as a jazz club pianist on the baby grand piano as well as Season 8, Episode 8 "Mr. and Mrs. Castle" as a cruise ship pianist.
Duncan's television series scores
- 2016 Timeless
- 2016 The Family
- 2016 Mad Dogs
- 2012 Last Resort
- 2012 Missing
- 2011 The Chicago Code
- 2010 The Gates
- 2010 Terriers
- 2009 Lie to Me
- 2009 Castle
- 2006–2009 The Unit
- 2006 Vanished
- 2005 Point Pleasant
- 2003 Tru Calling
- 2002–2003 Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- 2001 Starhunter
- 2001 Blue Murder (co-composed with Lou Natale)
- 1996 PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (co-composed with Lou Natale)
- 2011 The Entitled
- 2009 Into the Blue 2: The Reef
- 2007 Butterfly on a Wheel
- 2005 Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave
- 2005 Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis