By Alan Bastable, Senior Editor, GOLF Magazine
Rob Aster that's "Radical Rob" to his friends isn't exactly the Augusta National type. He has a curly mane of salt-and-pepper hair. He loves jamming on his bass guitar and sharing colorful tales of his days in the music business. And you can forget about a green jacket Aster is partial to the black leather variety. "I'm a rocker," he says. "I confess."
He also happens to be an integral part of the Masters. Each year in the weeks before the tournament, Aster can be found in the basement of his New Jersey home feverishly producing the scores some soaring, others subdued that accompany the highlight packages, hole flyovers, and goosebump-inducing montages that help make the Masters, well, the Masters.
"We're like storytellers," Aster says of himself and his longtime collaborator, David Dachinger. "We're trying to help tell the story through the music, to pique the sense of achievement in victory and agony in defeat and everything in between. It's analogous to a movie soundtrack." (Fitting, in that the Masters is now coming to you in 3-D.)
Aster and Dachinger don't limit themselves to golf they have also produced music for the Super Bowl, the NCAA tournament and the Olympics, as well as shows such as "Jeopardy!" and "Dateline" but the drama and rich pageantry of the royal and ancient game particularly appeals to Aster.
"I can't even begin to find the words to express what joy I get out of doing this stuff for golf. It's just different somehow," he says. "And it's incredibly flattering that the CBS guys seem to get energized by our music." Literally in the case of CBS announcer Jim Nantz, who stores at least one Masters track, "Fore Fathers," on his iPod. "I jog to it," Nantz says.
One of the biggest challenges of composing for the Masters, which Aster and Dachinger have done since 2006, is finding a fresh approach each year. "Everything has been done on TV in one way or the other," Aster says. So he spends a lot of late nights on his computer, sometimes a tumbler of whiskey in hand, sampling and mixing all kinds of instrumentals (yes, technology has changed the way music is made too) until he creates a "blueprint" for a score. He then sends that concept to Dachinger to compose and orchestrate. (Their alliance has paid off. Last year the pair was nominated for an Emmy for the score they wrote for the CBS special "Seve at the Masters.")