Monday, June 17, 2013

Music Monday: Special Star Trek Edition

A year ago I started a weekly feature to share some of the music I enjoy. It fizzled out by the end of the summer, but I thought it was time to bring it back, if only for a single post. A "One Night Afternoon Only" special event.

What's the occasion?

If you're a regular reader, you already know I recently had a birthday. And while I didn't get my laptop back from Staples like I was hoping (it's been WELL over a month now... c'mon, guys, get it together!), I did get some actual presents, including two CDs from Pat (yes, I still listen to CDs, now get off my lawn) -- the soundtracks for Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.

I know I've already mentioned that the music is one of my favorite things about the Star Trek reboot, so you can imagine how excited I was to get these. And I figured what better occasion to bring back Music Monday.

Star Trek: Music from the Motion Picture

Even though the first track, "Star Trek," is the one that opens the movie, playing over all the production logos and introducing the main theme... the "main" main theme is really track five, "Enterprising Young Men." This is the music that plays after the opening sequence, over the main title. This is the music that plays as the cadets approach the Enterprise for the first time. And one of my favorite parts of listening to the soundtrack is hearing how that theme keeps coming back in different variations.

Comparing, for example, the end of the eleventh track ("Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns") to the twelfth ("Back From Black"): one version is twisted and full of tension, the other triumphant. Each of those musical cues feeds its corresponding scene. And those aren't the only two variations by any means -- the majority of the tracks contain the main theme in one way or another -- but just an easy-to-spot example, juxtaposed the way they are.

In the CD booklet, there's a note from director J.J. Abrams about the composer, Michael Giacchino: "Listen to the themes Michael's written for this film -- the hope and pride of the hero, the threat and rage of the villain. The epic scale in counterpoint to the heartbreaking intimacy." And this is what I love about soundtracks in general, but this one in particular does it beautifully.

Star Trek Into Darkness: Music from the Motion Picture

I was curious going into the new soundtrack. Yes, I'd already seen the movie, but I was taking it in as a whole, and didn't remember much of the music (beyond soaking in the familiar end credits, my fingertips subtly conducting at my side).

I can't sink into this one the way I can the first movie's soundtrack, mainly because I'm not as intimately familiar with it. I've seen Star Trek probably going on ten times by now. When I hear the music I can imagine the scenes. And I'm looking forward to rewatching Star Trek Into Darkness again and again until I reach that same point with this music. But right now... it's just music.

Don't get me wrong; it's GOOD music. But it doesn't give me the same kind of emotional reaction listening to the first soundtrack does... surprising, since I'd say that overall, this was a much more emotional movie. But my mind can't fill in the blanks, I can't envision how it all comes together, the way I can with the first.

Even taking the music on its own, though, I definitely have my favorite tracks. A couple of them use piano, which gives those pieces a unique sound compared to the rest of the music. And -- predictably -- I love the tracks that bring back the main theme from the first movie, because (with the exception of the opening and closing credits) it's never exactly what we remember... it has a new, dark sound that matches the rest of the music.

J.J. Abrams had this to say about the new villain's theme: "When Michael first played [the] theme for me, I was floored. It spoke to me in a way I couldn't have anticipated... The suite had brilliance, fear, pride, mania, hubris, darkness, and still, somehow, sympathy." I know I've already said this, but I can't wait until I can watch the movie again, so I can match the music with the character, and see and hear it all come together.

Thanks for indulging my return to Music Monday. As always, if there's music out there you think I should be listening to, let me know! I'll leave you with one iteration of the main theme, played over the kickass promotional poster from the new movie.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Star Trek (2009) score. It's a fitting reboot to the Star Trek film series. The music from Star Trek Into Darkness has some great moments - "London Calling", "Warp Core Values", and "Buying the Space Farm".

    My issue with it is the same I had with the score to Star Trek III (James Horner did Trek II and III's score) - since it keeps so many of themes from the previous movie it doesn't sound as fresh, new, and bold. I love the consistency between the two films, I just wish there was more to sink my teeth into with the new one.