Monday, January 27, 2014

Jerry Goldsmith wrote the musical score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Goldsmith wrote the musical score for a large number of sci fi and fantasy films, including those for Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Planet of the Apes, Poltergeist, RoboCop, and Total Recall. He also composed the themes for the TV series Star Trek: Voyager, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Barnaby Jones.

At the time the film was produced, Goldsmith had composed themes or incidental music for 37 television series, TV movies, and TV mini-series, and 86 motion pictures. He'd been nominated for 10 Oscars for best score (there'd be seven more, including for Star Trek, before he died in 2004). These included the astounding music for A Patch of Blue (1965), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Patton (1970), Papillon (1973), The Wind and the Lion (1975), and The Omen (1976). 1979 would see two of his most celebrated works: Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Alien. (Poltergeist, Gremlins, Legend, Hoosiers, RoboCop, Total Recall, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: First Contact, L.A. Confidential, and Mulan were still to come.)

Among his many sci fi and fantasy TV and film scores are those for City of Fear, The Twilight Zone (TV series), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TV series theme), The Satan Bug, The Illustrated Man, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, Logan's Run, Damnation Alley, Coma, Capricorn One, Damien: Omen II, The Swarm, The Boys from Brazil, Magic, Omen III: The Final Conflict, Outland, The Secret of N.I.M.H., Twilight Zone: The Movie, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, Innerspace, Warlock, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Shadow, Powder, Small Soldiers, The Mummy, The Haunting, and the Hollow Man.

His score for the 1988 film Alien Nation was famously rejected, but has been used in hundreds of theatrical trailers, commercials, and documentary specials since.

Gene Roddenberry asked Goldsmith to score his new television series, Star Trek, in 1965, but Goldsmith was working on three movie scores and couldn't do it. In 1977, Paramount Pictures asked newly-hired director Robert Wise if he had any objection to using Goldsmith. Wise, who had worked with the composer on The Sand Pebbles, replied "Hell, no. He's great!" Wise later said his experience working with Goldsmith on ST: TMP was one of the best he ever had with a composer.

Goldsmith's score for TMP was influenced by the Romantic style music of Star Wars. Goldsmith's first main theme was an over-the-top "sailing ship" theme that was rejected by Wise. Goldsmith was angered by the rejection, but agreed to re-do the work.

Meanwhile, composing for the rest of the music in the film continued. Goldsmith turned in music for the "beauty pass" of Kirk and Scott's shuttle around the drydocked USS Enterprise. But when effects shots arrived late and little editing could be done to the sequence because there were just three weeks before the motion picture's debut, Goldsmith had to rewrite this piece to create a ponderous five-minute "suite" of music.

Goldsmith also used two unusual musical instruments to create music for the film. One of these was the Advanced Digital Synthesizer (ADS) 11, manufactured by Con Brio. The second was the Blaster Beam, a 13.5-foot-long, three-feet-wide aluminum bar along which were stretched steel wires (like a guitar). The wires were connected to amplifiers, which generated the sound. A small artillery shell casing was used to strike and pluck the wires. Goldsmith used a pipe organ to play the V'Ger theme the first time it is heard in the film. But for the musical cues and "stingers" which accompany V'Ger in the rest of the film, the Blaster Beam is used. (The Blaster Beam has been used in a wide range of motion pictures since 1979.)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the only Star Trek film to have an overture, a symphonic version of "Ilia's Theme".

Goldsmith wrote most of the music in about six weeks (typical for a motion picture). Because he was brought in so early during the production, the music was recorded in an extremely leisurely four months instead of the typical two to three weeks.

But as filming lagged and footage came in late, or even unedited, Goldsmith ran out of time to compose some of the music. Alexander Courage, composer of the original Star Trek theme and music for many episodes, composed the music which accompanied Kirk's log entries. Fred Steiner, another "original series" episode composer, wrote the music which accompanies the Enterprise achieving warp speed and first meeting V'Ger.

Problems with special effects, filming, editing, and other production problems plagued the movie. Goldsmith was revising the score and composing new cues right up to the last minute. The final recording session finished at 2:00 AM on December 1, 1979 -- only five days before the film's release.

The score to Star Trek: The Motion Picture was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It is regarded as one of the Goldsmith's greatest scores, and is considered one of the best science fiction scores of the last 25 years of the 20th century.

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