Film Score Friday Top 5: “Star Trek” cues or themes

So part two of Film Score Friday Top 5’s homage to Star Trek is my Top 5 choices for individual cues or themes (with themes here being identifiable character/group of characters theme).  So with that said…onward, ever upward (forward, never backward).

1. “Klingon Battle” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture– Jerry Goldsmith:  How could I not put this one on top?  Not only is it one of my favorite cues, but Goldsmith’s music for the Klingon’s has come to define the warrior race.  Goldsmith himself reused the rocking open fifth horn call in his later scores, and the theme can even be heard in the television scores occasionally.  And even when it wasn’t directly quoted, the overall aural effect of the cue is invoked.  Good case in point is James Horner’s music for the Klingon’s in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  And speaking of Horner…

2. “Surprise Attack” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by James Horner:  My love for Horner’s Khan score was already stated last week, and after the Main Title, this cue stands out in my mind next.  Alternating between the ominous music for Khan and the Reliant and the more hopeful Kirk and the Enterprise sound truly ramps up the tension.  As Khan puts it, they’re “one big happy fleet!”  But my favorite moment might be one that is my first conscious memory of a music-sound-sync point when Spock is pointing out on a bridge screen the damaged portions of the ship after Khan’s attack and as he points to each blinking light, it is accompanied by a low trombone note.  It may seem corny on the surface, but even now, it really seems just perfect.  Listening to just the cue, I know exactly when those notes are coming.

3. “The Ritual Ancient Battle” from “Amok Time,” Star Trek by Gerald Fried:  Also know as the music when Kirk fights Spock, or just Kirk fighting anyone, or simply, “dun dun dunn dunn dunn dunn dun dun dum dun!”  This might be the most recognizable piece of music from the original Trek series, but it got its start in “Amok Time” as the music for the ritual fight between Kirk and Spock, as Spock is trying to work through his Pon Farr rage (you know…Vulcans only do it every 7 years, and if they don’t…bad things).  The cue, though, proved so good, that it was made into a stock cue for most subsequent fight scenes in the series.  Maybe this clip will help jog you’re memory if you still can’t hear it:

4. “The Cloud” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Jerry Goldsmith:  “Two cues from Motion Picture?” you’re asking yourself.  Yes.  I’m doing this for a few reasons, but mainly to drive home a point:  say what you will about the relative quality of this film – personally I think it’s underrated, especially the Director’s Cut – but Jerry’s score is really top notch.  His music here for the Enterprise’s first encounterwith the V’ger is a great ambient track with arppegiated harp notes and some of Goldsmith’s trademark electronic sounds.  In a recent episode of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, the main characters (all nerds) are debating what is the worst Trek film, either Star Trek V or The Motion Picture.  One of them makes the argument that Motion Picture is worse because “it fails across the board: art direction, costuming, music, sound editing.”  Ya, I just about punched my computer screen when I heard that (yes, a physical response directed against a visual device, when the offending media was aural).  If there is one level on which The Motion Picture does NOT fail…it is music.  Bringing us to…

5. “Crash-Whale Fugue” from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Homeby Leonard Rosenman:  I was not actually really sure what to put here, but I really did not want to put another Goldsmith cue, but when he’s score 5 of the current 10 films, he’s hard to avoid.  I really do like Rosenman’s cue here for the penultimate scene of the film.  It shows a great care and detail for not just making a good cue, but also a good piece of music.  Runner up cues from this film go to his two chase cues for Chekov on the aircraft carrier and the escape from the hospital.

Well there it is, and while I’m not sold on the five spot, there are so many great musical moments from the films and shows (I almost put Ron Jones’ cue from the very end of “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” in that spot), I will stand by these choices.

Next Week: Top 5 film scores (Will Giacchino make the list?)

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