Tron – music by Wendy Carlos

TronWhat a wild, weird and misunderstood musical score this is! Let’s set the record straight – this was a movie about video games. Not Mortal Kombat or Doom, but games from the era of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. The era where an Ensoniq sound chip capable of polyphony was quite a major coup for a quarter-grabbing arcade machine. The music is supposed to be electronic-sounding! And it’s not as if traditional instrumentation was nowhere to be found – there are numerous helpings of orchestra and, in some of the more inspired moments of the score, some choral textures bring out an element of the story which was buried by special effects and the script. Some of the least-recognized moments of this score are the most mesmerizing when heard away from the vision of Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges cavorting around in fluorescent tights. “Water Music and Tronaction” benefits from a truly haunting arrangement – when I dug out my battered LP about a year ago and listened, I was hooked all over again, and the Tron motif is used most effectively here outside of the main theme. The “Magic Landings” cue is a gem because the best parts of it – cartoonish action music for Jeff Bridges’ clumsy handling of a robotic vehicle – were mixed out of the movie altogether! “Tower Music” is perhaps the most noteworthy track due to its brilliant subtlety and use of choir to underscore the religious nature of the scene. The end credit music is also 4 out of 4worth a listen, particularly the last half – again omitted from the movie’s sound mix in favor of a Journey song – which neatly ties together the various catchy themes and climaxes in a rousing flourish which was previously only heard when you finished playing the Tron arcade game. Very worthwhile listening, and surprising for its experimental nature.

Order this CD

  1. Creation of Tron (0:45)
  2. We’ve Got Company (2:15)
  3. Wormhole (2:25)
  4. Ring Game and Escape (2:53)
  5. Water Music and Tronaction (2:36)
  6. Miracle and Magician (2:36)
  7. Magic Landings (3:40)
  8. Theme from Tron (1:30)
  9. Love Theme (2:05)
  10. Tower Music – Let Us Pray (3:43)
  11. The Light Sailer (2:32)
  12. Sea of Simulation (3:20)
  13. A New Tron and the MCP (5:45)
  14. Anthem (1:36)
  15. Ending Titles (5:10)

Released by: Disney
Release date: 1982 (this score was later re-released in 2002)
Total running time: 42:17