The Night Digger - Scenario Macabre for String Orchestra Scene VII Bernard Herrmann
Star Trek: Into Darkness has finally arrived, and it's got another fantastic Michael Giacchino-penned soundtrack. But what other musical gems have come out of the blockbuster sci-fi series?
Originally composed with the title 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', this theme characterises the early Star Trek incarnations perfectly. Loungey percussion, spooky sci-fi vocals and cheesy sound effects, it has the camp space opera factor in spades.
When the first official Star Trek movie was released in 1979, audiences were first exploded to Jerry Goldsmith's now-iconic theme for the series. Influenced by John Williams' music for Star Wars (released two years earlier), the theme has arguably become even more popular than Courage's original TV soundtrack.
James Horner was only 28 when he was hired for the second instalment's soundtrack. Was he selected for his fresh artistic vision? Maybe his incredible harmonic sophistication and knack with an anthemic tune? No. Sadly, Horner was hired because he was cheaper than Jerry Goldsmith and Miklos Rosza. Interestingly, he was told by producers to shun the music from the Goldsmith original, and instead adapted the Alexander Courage music from the TV show for certain sections.
Presumably on a rather higher salary this time around, James Horner returned to score the series' third instalment. Using the material he composed for The Wrath Of Khan as a springboard, he developed new themes for characters like Spock and the Klingons, which were characterised by heavy percussion.
Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, directed this 1986 fourth instalment in the franchise, and convinced Leonard Rosenman to have a bash at the soundtrack. He had previous sci-fi form having scored some Planet of the Apes sequels, and he was also an Oscar-winner for Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, and Bound For Glory. This was, however, his only Star Trek outing - and with its adventurous brass clusters and rather un-Star Trek baroque influences, it's perhaps easy to see why.
Welcomed back with open arms to the franchise, Jerry Goldsmith took his place on the podium for The Final Frontier (in which William Shatner has a fight with God at the end). Unfortunately, despite composing some intricate new themes and leitmotifs for the film, it performed quite miserably at the box office and is not too fondly remembered.
Another left-field choice for the series, Cliff Eidelman experimented with new themes and eschewed the bombast of previous composers in the series. Consequently, the music is far more muted and introspective than in earlier instalments. However, the influence of Gustav Holst's Planets Suite (which was what director Nicholas Meyer originally had in mind for the film) is clear to see in the more violent and percussive passages.
The first appearance of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation's cast in a Star Trek movie was a big deal, and a big change. The soundtrack was no exception. Dennis McCarthy was responsible for composing the music for The Next Generation TV show, and his more modern work on it influenced the sound of Generations - synthesisers and choral arrangements now complemented the brass-heavy orchestral writing. It's also worth noting that McCarthy was in charge of composing music for spin-off TV shows Deep Space Nine and Enterprise - if anyone else could be considered a stalwart of the franchise, it's him.
Jerry Goldsmith notched up a third Star Trek credit in 1996, but also drafted in his son Joel to help out with a few extra cues. Using themes first heard back in The Final Frontier to bridge the gap between old and new Star Trek movies, it's a mesh of the established Star Trek sound and something a little more modern. Again, following Dennis McCarthy's example, electronic sounds are frequently heard throughout the score.
Goldsmith had really defined himself as the go-to guy for Star Trek soundtracks by this point. Again, he nods to the Alexander Courage original theme in the movie's opening, but he also refers back to his original music from The Motion Picture.
Sadly this was to be Jerry Goldsmith's final outing as a Star Trek composer, as he died shortly after completing it. Perhaps appropriately, it's a much darker and more sombre score than many of his other Star Trek works, relying on rumbling lower brass and synthesiser effects alongside the more traditional instrumentation.
Fast-forward seven years to 2009, and the Star Trek franchise has been given a complete overhaul. Going back to the beginning of the whole saga, director JJ Abrams enlisted his regular collaborator Michael Giacchino to breathe new life into the music. Despite the pressure, Giacchino held off using the Alexander Courage theme until the end credits.
Little is currently known about the new soundtrack, but given the warm reception Giacchino received for his first attempt, it's bound to go down well… All will be revealed as the film is released.