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The Official Star Trek Music Discussion Thread


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#981 of 1060 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted April 11 2014 - 08:13 AM

Thanks Jason for the heads up on the Spring Sale! I'll have to see if there are titles I'm missing!

Chime in after you get the soundtrack set!
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#982 of 1060 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted April 18 2014 - 07:36 PM

Guys, as per a suggestion from Lee, I'm listening to the Third Season discs. I hate to admit, that while I listened to each disc at least once when it was first released, I have so little time to really listen closely. So I have mostly listened to the first season. Since I have a killer commute, I've started to listen to the soundtracks in the car more.

What I didn't realize is Alexander Courage created some really nice music. I've focused on the Fred Steiner first two discs with Fred's work and today to the Courage contribution of Enterprise Incident and Platos Stepchildren and The Way to Eden.

Steiner's Elaan of Troyius is a favorite too.

It made me wonder if the two listened to each other's work. It's very cool how Steiner was still using unusual instruments to create the sounds of other worldliness. And also drive the action and supply some sounds to the effects. The use of what I'm guessing are chimes are very cool. So it made me wonder if Courage was influenced. His music for Enterprise Incident strikes it's own identity away from Steiner's Romulan music. Both are valid. I really had no idea it was Courage who actually composed that. Maybe because Roddenberry wasn't around as much. :). The music is very strong. Both composers works are used a lot during the third year too as I recognized so many cues.

And the sound is as unique as the first season's sound, separate and really makes me think of the third year. I hope all these composers had some recognition at the time. Or later.

Even the music in Eden is interesting. Made me think of the sounds of the rock era of the 1960's, but with that little twist that takes it away. I guess it's a synthesizer. Reminded of The Doors a little. Too bad Mr. Napier felt slighted later in life.
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#983 of 1060 OFFLINE   FanCollector

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Posted April 18 2014 - 09:59 PM

I never considered how much influence the composers may have had on each other. I wish interviewers had touched on that more directly when they had the chance. Steiner did a rather comprehensive article on Star Trek music for a Library of Congress journal, so he certainly heard all the music later. The first season scoring was done very close together and on short notice, so they definitely wouldn't have heard each other's work on those shows, although they might have screened the pilots first. No one said for sure.

In the second season, Courage conducted a series of library cues, some of which came from Steiner's scores, but nothing from Balance of Terror or Mirror, Mirror. George Duning, however, must have been familiar with at least some of Steiner's work because he interpolated some of the Romulan/Mirror music into his score for Return to Tomorrow. (And it wasn't an editing job; Duning really seems to have composed and recorded it that way.)

Courage claimed to have almost no recollection of the specifics of his Star Trek work after the pilots. The way he describes it, it seems unlikely that he saw other episodes or heard other music from the show. But his later memory of the experience seems so dim that he might have done so and then forgotten.

It seems to have been sometime in the '80s that the composers really began to get some recognition for their Star Trek work (besides Courage for the theme). At the time the shows were airing, they don't seem to have been singled out for their work. It may or may not have been a nice credit in the industry, but the public didn't seem to have much awareness of television composers. They didn't earn much money for the episodes (a couple of hundred dollars a show), but it was probably a chance to "reign in Hell" rather than "serve in Heaven." Most of those guys were arrangers for big movies or composers for very small movies. On Star Trek, they got the chance to use their talents a bit more fully.
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#984 of 1060 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted April 19 2014 - 05:32 AM

They say that you shouldn't notice a good score if it's properly integrated into a film, and I think that's what happened with those STAR TREK: TOS scores. They were so perfect that they just seemed to fit without calling attention to the music. It was all part of the fabric of the episodes.

 

Speaking as one who watched the series in its NBC run, I can relate my own experience - which may interpolate to others. During the original network run, with weekly exposure, we were all focused on the stories and characters, plus the then-dazzling effects. The music was just "there". It fit, but it wasn't yet ingrained into our souls.

 

In syndication, with now daily exposure, the familiar music started to be noticed by some. I recall a fellow worker commenting to me in the mid '70s that he'd noticed that whenever the Enterprise was in danger, a certain rhythmic cue was used. I'd noticed it in the recesses of my brain, but hadn't yet brought that fact to full consciousness. From then on, I started noticing the music a little more.

 

It was in the '80s that people began to own their own episodes, either through purchasing VHS tapes, or taping the syndicated reruns. That's when episode "study" was really possible - as we could stop, start, repeat, replay episodes any time we wanted, so naturally, the repetition of the music led to great familiarity. Scores that were used for one episode only didn't have the same impact as the cues that were used over and over again.

 

So yeah, I think you're right that it wasn't until the '80s that the composers started getting their "due".

 

Harry


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#985 of 1060 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted April 19 2014 - 05:44 AM

Nice discussion, guys. :)
 

"It's very cool how Steiner was still using unusual instruments to create the sounds of other worldliness."

Good ear, Nelson.  Additionally, there are other reasons (especially harmonic, and perhaps to a lesser extent, melodic -- although I add that last part very cautiously) which contributed to the fabric that you aptly describe as 'other-worldliness.'  Some of these reasons are probably too technical to get into here, but I just wanted to mention that the combination of both aspects (the instrumentation / orchestration that you allude to and the harmonic vocabulary and conjunct and disjunct movement of the melodic pallet in consort with this vocabulary) was done exceedingly well.  As Lee said, working on TOS gave them the chance to use their talents a bit more fully.
 

Nelson,

What did you mean when you referenced Napier above?  Why did he feel slighted?



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Posted April 19 2014 - 07:51 AM

Harry, thank you for the perspective of an original NBC viewer. So many questions about watching the series then! Your point about a good score not drawing attention to itself is well-taken and I often notice that movie scores of today get praised excessively when they clearly violate that dictum.

The repetition that you and your friend noticed was, as we have discussed here before, partly the result of budgetary restrictions, and partly of union rules that have since become stricter. But ironically, what may have been a shortcut at the time has made some of the music carry more meaning over time. Some of the composers didn't like the reuse of their music (Gerald Fried, for example), but for the viewers some of the repetition made certain cues iconic in their own way. I feel similarly about the reuse of so many Enterprise shots. It was instituted as a cost-saving measure, but it gave the show a kind of visual vocabulary, just as the tracked music have the show a musical one.

#987 of 1060 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted April 19 2014 - 08:51 AM

Scott, from what I understand, Napier had become depressed because he wasn't a more famous actor. He wanted to be a big star. And even though he had so many credits to his name, he still felt he had not reached that point in his career yet. It was so bad, he even appeared on Dr. Phil with his wife to discuss it.

Lee, that's right, I think you mentioned before that Steiner wrote about the Star Trek music. It would be interesting if that was available to read. The music was so popular, it must have gave rise to all those soundtrack discs and the ones from Label X. What's funny is having listened to those Label X re-recordings, they don't fully capture the fine detail of the actual recordings. The Label X symphonic recordings to me sound sonically better, richer but lack the subtle bits that are in the originals. I thought I read in the liner notes, where possible, they got the composer involved in those. It must have been only one of them. I just had a quick look at the liner notes of the first Label X disc and it refers to the unfortunately lost jazzy piece From Conscience of the King used as party music when Kirk meets Lenore. Clyde Allen thought it was lost as it doesn't exist on the cue sheets for the episode. Nor does Uhura's song! He must be amused now that the recordings exists and we can enjoy it now!

I agree with your thoughts of the repeated use of the music.

Harry, thanks for relating your story of being an original NBC viewer! I wasn't quite old enough at the time to really understand the few episodes I saw. For me, the imagery is what stuck. It's interesting that for me, while I really was into the hardware as a kid, the stories started to resonate later in syndication more and more. It's certainly influenced a generation or two! So it's cool to read about your journey from original viewings to the 70's and the syndicated days to home video of the 80's.

#988 of 1060 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted April 19 2014 - 11:34 AM

I accidentally came across a cool site of Leonard Nimoy's musical career because I was listening to the song Maiden Wine on the soundtrack. Pretty neat!

 

http://www.maidenwine.com/home.html



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Posted April 19 2014 - 01:44 PM

The Steiner piece was reprinted in a book called Wonderful Inventions with lots of great pictures from the series and of the composers themselves. It's not impossible to find copies now, but they can be rather expensive. Jeff Bond does quote the article several times in his book on the subject.

Clearly, there was a market for Star Trek television music in the 1980s, given the multiple releases, but I wish there had been a bigger market. GNP obviously hit a ceiling or they would not have stopped their releases after three discs. On the other hand, if they had released a lot of the series music, we would not have gotten the outstanding La La Land set so maybe everything happened as it should have.

Harry, it isn't a music question, but since you talked about watching the series on NBC, we were discussing something in the general trivia thread a while ago: in watching the first-run shows, did you feel a strong difference in quality or tone in watching the third season? Or was it all just Star Trek at the time?

#990 of 1060 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted April 19 2014 - 03:00 PM

Thanks Lee, I'll look for it. And Jeff Bond's book.

My recollection as a youth watching the series in syndication was that the shift from seasons wasn't jarring. The third season episodes looked to me to be very modern. I remember there are shots of the live action that looked like it could have been filmed in the late 1970's. I watched them all. It wasn't till I got older in my watching and was more familiar that I noticed the quality shift. But it was Star Trek and for better or worse, it was what there was. It was the books that started to come out that kept propagating how much weaker the third year was. While true, there are some pretty solid episodes as we'd all agree.

This is just a theory, but in the 80's, I would think that the idea of an entire soundtrack release of Star Trek sounded insane to GNP. They seemed to focus on the more popular releases. And they didn't release every bit of music there was in those releases either. (Now that we have all the tracks to know. ) So my guess is they marketed what they thought would sell. Compact disc were new at the time. Except for the classical releases, which I wouldn't know, those were possibly the only things coming out with large sets? The mentality could have been still in the LP world. They couldn't imagine a box of discs. So I am only guessing they are marketing single disc releases of the best or more marketable material.

What a great time, I remember being at the Los Angeles convention at the time and those Label X releases just came out and I saw them, but didn't jump on them right away. And the first GNP release was on vinyl too! I think I have a copy.

#991 of 1060 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted April 19 2014 - 06:18 PM

Harry, it isn't a music question, but since you talked about watching the series on NBC, we were discussing something in the general trivia thread a while ago: in watching the first-run shows, did you feel a strong difference in quality or tone in watching the third season? Or was it all just Star Trek at the time?

 

My impression of the third season was pretty much that is was just more STAR TREK. The announcement on NBC at the end of a second season episode that STAR TREK had been renewed (and please stop all of the letter writing!) was a somewhat momentous occasion and when the third season began, although it was in that awful time slot, it still felt like a victory by the fans. 

 

The fact that season three began with "Spock's Brain" was even OK, as Spock had become the breakout character and one of the hooks that kept viewers coming back for more. When you started watching the show, you had no idea if "Spock's Brain" was going to be a great episode of just a fair one. There wasn't anyone who'd seen it before to tell you that they thought it was a stinker.

 

The following week came "The Enterprise Incident", a thrilling episode to say the least. With the make-up applied to Kirk, and the whole undercover nature of the episode, it reminded us of another popular series at the time, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, which was at the height of its run.

 

No, the series just played like "more STAR TREK". It wasn't really until the series had ended and begun its run in syndication that most of us had a chance to see it all again - some episodes for the first time! - and compare which season was better than another.

 

I'm happy to be among those who actually saw STAR TREK play on a major television network - something later generations can't claim. Not that NBC had a clue what they had...

 

Harry


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#992 of 1060 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted April 19 2014 - 07:14 PM

Harry,

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with TOS.  I remember a couple of episodes that I saw when they were first-run, but that's about it.  It wasn't until the early 1970s when I really got into the series.


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#993 of 1060 OFFLINE   Osato

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Posted April 20 2014 - 04:29 AM

The La La Land Records 20% off sale ends on Monday.

 

I'd love to get the TOS Trek set, but its still too much for me to spend. Even with 20% off it is around $180.

 

I did pick up Batman The Movie 1966 soundtrack for $8 though!!!



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Posted April 20 2014 - 04:41 AM

Harry, thank you for the original-run insights! It would have been very exciting to see the episodes as they were first introduced, one at a time. Were there favorites besides The Enterprise Incident that felt like instant classics? Were there any episodes that you grew to appreciate more only with repeated viewings?

Nelson, that's great that you have one of the LPs. I think the LP and cassette space limitations also dictated some of the eliminated cues on those releases. There were some non-classical LP box sets, but they were much less common than with CDs and I agree that a Star Trek television soundtrack set would have been a very unlikely candidate, especially to start. They did release the three GNP albums as a set later, so if the releases had continued, they might have released a box set at the end.

Thanks for the tip, Osato. I may get that Batman disc also.

#995 of 1060 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted April 20 2014 - 04:59 AM

I still have four of those GNP and Label  vinyl LPs, and the one for the sound effects too. I remember being at work one day and heading out to lunch and stopping into the local Sam Goody record store and finding ALL FOUR of those albums at the same time. At about $10 a piece, it was an expensive lunch - but I remember showing them to a co-worker who was a fellow soundtrack nut and he was impressed with the Steiner recordings.

 

Instant classics? You bet. I'd started watching STAR TREK on that premiere night of September 8th, 1966 with "The Man Trap." No that was not an instant classic at all. Indeed, I preferred the show that premiered the next night, THE TIME TUNNEL. I watched STAR TREK on and off that first year. It's second half-hour conflicted with a favorite of mine - BEWITCHED - so I most often switched away. No VCRs of any kind back then.

 

It was when STAR TREK promoted doing the time travel story in "City On The Edge Of Forever" that I recognized it as an instant classic, and I watched STAR TREK faithfully from then on. I could tell that shows like "The Naked Time" and "Amok Time" and "The Trouble With Tribbles" and "The Doomsday Machine" were all something special. And of course others as well, too numerous to mention.

 

The Thursday night episodes were all viewed in color, and the Friday episodes unfortunately had to be seen in black & white at our weekend cottage in the warmer weather. The winter episodes - from about Thanksgiving to Spring - were all seen in color.

 

Harry


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#996 of 1060 OFFLINE   Rick Thompson

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Posted April 20 2014 - 05:34 AM

The La La Land Records 20% off sale ends on Monday.

 

I'd love to get the TOS Trek set, but its still too much for me to spend. Even with 20% off it is around $180.

 

I did pick up Batman The Movie 1966 soundtrack for $8 though!!!

 

Very interesting when you find you can get the complete video set of the series itself -- on Blu-ray no less -- for $91.23 on Amazon.


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#997 of 1060 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted April 20 2014 - 08:47 AM

Harry, it's great you are here and recalling your first Star Trek viewing experiences and thoughts! We appreciate your insights.

It's interesting that your viewing experience is tracking with what is written in the Cushman Season Two book. Viewers were tuning into Time Tunnel and Bewitched.

I remember my cousins were really into Batman at the time. Though I never really saw Batman till later.

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Posted April 20 2014 - 09:01 AM

Yes, it seems the whole country was watching Bewitched. Did you catch some of those first season episodes during summer reruns? You mentioned the promotion of The City on the Edge of Forever; I know it was the first episode to receive a TV Guide Close Up. Did NBC do a lot of on-air promotion for the episode? Did you have the sense that they treated that episode differently? That they knew it was special? Or were you especially interested because of the time travel aspect?

#999 of 1060 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted April 20 2014 - 09:24 AM

Nelson,

For some reason, I too was very much into Batman (and The Green Hornet, Mission: Impossible, etc.) around the time that TOS first aired.  I loved my Batman trading cards too.



#1000 of 1060 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted April 20 2014 - 10:12 AM

So here's a question: I've finally imported all 15 discs of the TOS collection and that's nearly 700 tracks.

 

For anyone using iTunes, how are you sorting these out? Right now I have them in one big playlist for the entire set, but I'll never get to the S2 or S3 material doing it that way. I also know the way to sort if up to the person...is anyone sorting multi-disc sets by disc and creating a separate playlist for each? Or am I just overthinking it?

 

(As much as I love The Cage, I don't know how much more I can listen to the first four or five tracks...that's what I usually get to before someone interrupts me.)






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