The Music of Star Trek

The Music of Star TrekOrder this bookStory: Through interviews with composers, editors and others, cue lists, and excerpts from sheet music, the author explores the evolution of Star Trek’s sound from the original series’ sometimes almost-over-the-top – yet indelible – library of frequently-reused cues, to the varied scores of the film series, to the sometimes humdrum music produced for Next Generation and its own spinoffs.

Review: Just when it seems that every possible subject for a book on the Star Trek phenomenon has been mined by tomes both authorized and unauthorized, along comes a book on the subject of one of Trek’s most hotly-debated elements: the musical scores.

While some of the interviews – notably Dennis McCarthy’s, which restates well-known refrains from past interviews (including the one conducted for – retread old ground, others are much more revealing, particularly those with Jerry Goldsmith and his son Joel, who double-teamed on the music for Star Trek: First Contact. Also included are chats with Don Davis (of The Matrix fame, who scored only one fan-praised Next Generation episode and then bailed out), DS9/Voyager composers David Bell and Paul Baillargeon, and some of the editors who wrangle the finished music into the episodes’ final cuts.

A frequent theme in the post-classic-cast-film sections is “What is Rick Berman thinking, asking them to tone down the music that much?” And truth be told, it’s a question worth asking. Dennis McCarthy graciously defers to Jerry Goldsmith’s scoring of both Trek films since Generations, but truthfully, McCarthy’s was the most dynamic of the Next Generation movie scores, and the fact that he hasn’t scored another Trek movie since is glaringly obvious, as is Goldsmith’s too-subdued (and probably Berman-mandated) musical approach to First Contact and Insurrection.

On the downside: Ron Jones, who was abruptly released from his duties during Next Generation’s fourth season, is uncharacteristically quiet. In such publications as Cinefantastique, Jones has lashed out at his former employers in the past, and I was hoping for a little more insight into that event from this book. My long-range sensors detect the author and/or publisher trying to make nice with Paramount by not even asking about Jones’ termination.

“The Music of Star Trek” is aimed at a small niche audience, to be sure, but if you’ve ever had more than a passing fascination with the franchise’s wildly varied musical styles, it’s an intriguing read.

Year: 1998
Author: Jeff Bond
Publisher: Lone Eagle
Pages: 250 pages