FOND MEMORIES - EPISODE 6: 1982-1984 - JERRY GOLDSMITH AND STAR TREK
1982-1984: JERRY GOLDSMITH AND STAR TREK
"My peers at the time, the people who were most respected at that time, and who I looked up to, were John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein. I would often be at their recording sessions listening to everything." 1
"I did go to the sessions with Jerry Goldsmith while I was working at Roger Corman. I knew Jerry and I wanted to see what big sessions were like. I was impressed with Jerry’s sound world." 2
“I was curious what Jerry would do, and he invited me to the sessions and I hung out a lot and that was sort of a big event for me to see that being conducted and that being put together.” 3
"When I started, for sure I was influenced by Goldsmith and his large orchestral scores, but at the same time the people who employed me wanted that kind of music. I was not able to tell them, "Go to hell!" 4
“That is often what one is up against. A producer or director has seen the move and test-tracked it with somebody else's music and has fallen in love with that score, and says: this is what we want, period." 5
"A lot of people say that they hear Jerry Goldsmith, but that's only because they know Jerry Goldsmith's music. I mean, other people think they hear Debussy's music or Mahler's music or Strauss’ music or Beethoven, it just depends on who one talks to." 5
"Most of the films that I've been doing are, in fact, adventure, horror or whatever, and those are the kinds of films Goldsmith does, he very rarely does sensitive films." 5
"I’d known James Horner in high school through a friend of mine he was dating…Dad loved to exaggerate my one outing with Jamie Horner into boyfriend proportions…." 6
"He refused to come and conduct his own Fanfare for Oscar and the ceremony because he absolutely did not want to play the music of Titanic. I'm no longer the young man who was once his friend. Times changed a long time ago. I am a rival now." 4
At the time, James Horner was beamed up into Star Trek II thanks to two main factors:
"a much lower budget and the search for a different musical color". 8
In addition, producers Harve Bennett and Roger Sallin and director Nicholas Meyer wanted a different musical approach for the second installment of the franchise.
"They did not want the kind of score they had gotten before, they did not want a John Williams score, per se. They wanted something different, more modern." 5
"In terms of first "Star Trek", the studio was very disappointed with the way the movie came out commercially and they wanted something much more exciting and visceral and not so much of a thought process. I was asked to do more of an adventure score and that’s how I approached it initially." 3
"The producers loved my work for Wolfen, and had heard my music for several other projects, and I think, so far as I've been told, they liked my versatility very much. I wanted the assignment, and I met with them, we all got along well, they were impressed with my music, and that's how it happened." 5
“I knew nothing about Star Trek. I don’t watch TV so I knew nothing about the series. I had seen the first Star Trek and wasn’t particularly impressed, although I did love the visuals and the effects, but emotionally it didn’t do much for me.” 10
“It was an action movie but the thrust of what I wanted to give it was the tune that goes between Kirk and Spock.I’m always looking for the core story, and that’s what I narrate. I wanted to make much more of Spock than had ever been done before. That unique undercurrent of Spock and the Captain, Jim, was a relationship that had never played in anybody’s approach. I wanted to make that bond very tight. That was really important because there was a Star Trek 3 and that bond ended up being the whole thing of Star Trek 3. I wanted to tell the story of two men and their friendship, and that’s what I gleaned out of the series and out of the first movie. So the closer I could play that bond during the movie, the more I could make of that bond separation when Spock dies, the more I could break the audience's heart at the end of the movie. Seeds I was sowing in Star Trek 2 were now going to be able to bloom and work in Star Trek 3, and that was very important, and that was all part of the work and how it was all going to be woven together.” 3
"The director was passionate about classical music. There was much talk of Mahler, Prokofiev, the symphonic approach, contrasts between brass and strings. It was stimulating. There were times when he could describe things in terms of symphony movement and form." 8
"He and I talked about it at great length. We spent so much time together on this project that we've become rather close friends. Nick knows what he's talking about, musically. He wanted to give the feeling of an adventure on the high seas. It's that sort of nautical, under-sail, wind-blowing spirit that I'm after, as opposed to Star Wars' very imperial, martial kind of theme." 11
"It took me a little over four weeks. I freed myself from the musical imprint of Jerry Goldsmith, who had composed the first Star Trek, and I brought back the theme of the TV series, composed by Alexander Courage. " 8
"Star Trek had a large brass section—six French horns, otherwise it was a general, large symphonic orchestra.” 12
"There were quite a few instances where I would be called up on a sequence that we had timed out, asking to change lengths because they couldn't use the full special effects shot, or they had lengthened it or re-cut it slightly." 6
"I never wanted to use it. I begged, begged, 'Please don't make me use 'Amazing Grace. ' It was the only battle in the film I lost. They all seemed to feel that 'Amazing Grace' was the only thing to make them happy. It was 15 seconds—I just did it. It had already been shot, and I had to match it." 12
“Star Trek had a rushed production schedule; they had to be in theaters by June 4th, and they started dubbing April 9th. I had to have the music available by April 15th. They locked the picture four weeks prior to that, and they were still getting special effects shots while I was writing it. It was a very rushed schedule. Nicholas was editing while he was directing: editing nights, directing days. Hollywood doesn't usually do it that way, but the film turned out to be wonderful. Every sequence I scored was in the film. There was one bit I wanted taken out. It was after Kirk surprises the Reliant, hits it with photon torpedoes, and Scotty carries the dead guy up to the bridge. Everyone just closes their eyes on the bridge, then they cut to the Enterprise, 'blowing in the wind.' I scored a big bittersweet chord for that cut. I wanted it to play very ghostly, very, very quiet, after all that battle noise. And we finally cut the music at that point. It works terrifically. Now the Enterprise just turns in that silence. It's really kind of nice.” 12
"The villain stuff, the big effects stuff, the chases, all of that takes care of itself because it’s all visually stunning. What has to be brought to the surface more in the storytelling is the deep affection that occurs between these two characters, Spock and Kirk, and that’s really what I focused on. It ended up fortuitously working to set it up that way because it cemented something that wasn’t in the first movie, it cemented something on a big scale that wasn’t in the television series. It was always implied. I tried to nail it in the movie." 10
"I believe that you had to have 2, maybe maximum 3 themes that an audience could keep track of, and then it was important that 3 themes be your principal themes and then have maybe a motif or two that were very short but narrated other things. And themes tended to be long melodies and the motifs could be short blasts of things." 3
"The score is designed to help create a feeling of tremendous speed and power for the Enterprise" 12
"There was a theme I composed for Kirk, (that nautical, Horatio Hornblower-sounding theme), a separate theme for the Enterprise, and the two themes are intertwined—Kirk and the Enterprise as one. There's a very strange, ethereal theme for Spock." 12
One major difference, beyond the production’s budget and the composer's style, lies in the desire to transform the main theme into a theme that is not solemn, martial or hieratic as in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but water evokes the popular adventure of Horatio Hornblower. The theme is more fluid, its outline is more curved than square. And suddenly proves to be more in the vein of James Horner than Jerry Goldsmith. Spock has a theme of his own, rather than musical material associated with the Vulcans. Finally, Khan also has his own musical material.
"Nicholas Meyer wanted something very sea-faring, something that gave the feeling of space as an ocean, and I tried to achieve that without getting too literal about it." 6
“Producer Harve Bennett would've probably been more comfortable had I reused material from the television show, but I chose not to do that and Nick (Nicholas Meyer ed.) backed me up on that decision. They didn’t want to repeat the theme of Star Trek 1. They wanted a new theme. Nick wanted it to be seafaring, as I told you, so they didn’t want to re-use or reference anything of Star Trek 1. That was history now. So we had to come up with a new theme and it had to be very musical and had to be memorable.” 3
"Well I was little more rebellious probably than Jerry was. I refused to use the Alexander Courage theme. Honestly it’s a period type of tune and I felt it didn’t have the emotional thing that I wanted to get out of it " 3
"I didn’t think there would be a place for it in the film. I said I would think about it." 12
"At first I was not going to do it, but then as I started writing the music I figured out a way to incorporate part of the fanfare into the music, and it works very well." 6
"I worked out a way to use the Star Trek fanfare, which I used about four or five times. I always had wanted to use that fanfare, actually. Unlike the first Star Trek film, I wanted right from the start, from where the curtain first opened, to grip the audience, to tell them that they were going to see Star Trek.” 12
"I felt it was very important to Star Trek to somehow tie in the characters and the ship that everybody knew. The audience seems to like it. When they first hear the music they start applauding!" 6
"There are only two things that can do that, either the Enterprise, or the Star Trek fanfare. The fanfare draws you in immediately—you know you're going to get a good movie." 12
"One of my absolute favorite sequences of Star Trek was seeing the Enterprise in Drydock. I just thought that was unbelievable. And the whole leaving Drydock for the first time. And I had to write a really long sequence to narrate that, and I had to make it perfect because I thought the sequence was perfect, visually. The music works in a very special way. I wanted it to be as ship-like and as old-fashioned as it could be, and as majestic as it could be. It's not so much the music that I’m proud of. It’s the whole sequence when you watch it. And I always believe that you shouldn’t be aware of the music. What I’m proud of is the marriage, that you're just in awe of the sequence and it's the visuals and the music working together that make that moment dramatically, that whole long 12-minute sequence of pulling out of Drydock. It's just such a terrific sequence." 3
"There were certain ways that drama was treated musically on the TV show. In certain spots in the film I tried to play on that. In the sequence where the Ceti eels are put into thehelmets, Khan says 'That's better. Now tell me about Genesis…." There, you hear a very high, weird lyre. And the strings are doubled with several percussion and electronic instruments. That's a very weird permutation of the Star Trek love theme from the TV series. It's a strange inside joke on my part. Very few people recognize it, but it's the kind of thing I smile at when I hear it. Maybe I perverted it so much that no one can recognize it now." 12
"Khan didn’t have a long theme. Khan had a high, sort of war-like thing that I did in high french horns. But it helps you know right away that that's Khan’s music, and it's very short and distinctive, and that plays against the theme of the Enterprise, which is a long melodic thing. I wanted it to be really something that was strong and war-like, and to me the high horns in terms of color did that. Not the trumpets. But in terms of sheer power…I think it was 8 french horns that did that. It was something that I could play, a short blast of power. It wasn’t really a theme, it was just a motif for Khan and then, I could do that, and then when you cut back to Kirk, you could have Kirk’s theme, very simply so that these chases could be very easily theme-driven because there was a lot of battle music…and it was incessant. And I had to find a way to musically say who was what, and what was who, and who was damaged, who was not damaged. And that helped a great deal, knowing how the battle was going and I think that that is really, really important when you are having long battle sequences. Otherwise it's just action music." 3
"It's sort of a menacing undertone, very quiet music that underplays his insanity in a subtle way that wil have a disquieting effect on the audience. When he's involved in battles, the music is wild and pagan. A lot is going on in this movie, and by means of music you can help the story along. You can represent how characters feel about each other in an instant by using a bristling theme or a friendship theme. We do that with Khan. You know he's crazy the moment you see him, but you don't know why you feel that way." 11
"Spock's motif is a very haunting theme, very different from anything else in the film, but done with conventional instruments. It emphasizes his humanness more than his alienness. By putting a theme over Spock, it warms him and he becomes three-dimensional rather than a collection of schticks." 11
"Spock had never had a theme before, and I wanted to give him a theme to tie the whole of 'Genesis' and 'Spock' by the end of the film, so that it would all mean something." 12
"It's not the swelling dawn-of-creation, Stravinsky-violins theme you might expect. It's kind of awe-inspiring. There are large sustained orchestral chords which change slowly and almost imperceptibly. The closest comparison I could give you would probably be certain passages in 2001. It's got a nice texture, but we're not in it for all that long." 11
"Despite the cramped production schedule and the curse of the bagpipes, Star Trek II is the most enjoyable project I've worked on (in 1982, ed.). Everyone—Harve Bennett, Bob Sallin, the actors—were great to work with." 12
"Initially when I was doing Star Trek II there was no Star Trek III. Star Trek III got formulated somewhere along the end while we were doing it, I had to change the end of Star Trek II musically and they changed the cut so that it merged into the beginning of Star Trek III and it actually held me in very good stead. Star Trek II was really to me, an emotional story between Kirk and Spock and that really paid off in a big way obviously in the next movie and I always look for those types of things in the films I do. It's like a trademark of my writing." 3
"I have very mixed feelings about doing epic scores. Lately I've been trying to do more and more small films, gentle films rather than this sort of epic blockbusters, because I like what I can do with a small film. I find it more interesting than what I can do, usually, in a large film." 13
"That was 2 years ago for me. I was twenty-seven and a half when I wrote Star Trek II and now I'm thirty. So a lot of musical time has gone by for me and I just think that the score for Star Trek III is just so much vastly better than Star Trek II. It's just a much more interesting score and, for me, a much more beautiful and emotional score than Star Trek II." 13
It's an opportunity for all those involved to breathe new life into the established themes and melodies, for Genesis and especially for Spock. A powerful tutti opens the film and the score (blaster beam and all). On the one hand, Horner pays homage to the lofty mysticism of the link between the humans and the Vulcan Spock, on the other hand he indulges in the grotesque humor represented by the Klingons. The Klingon and Enterprise elements contrast heavily in the film’s editing and allow the composer to further develop a technique he experimented with in Star Trek II for the Enterprise and Khan.
"I'm using a couple of themes and reweaving them differently." 13
The "barbarian" aspect outlined by Jerry Goldsmith in the opening scene of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, depicting the Klingons waging war under Prokofiev’s watchful eye, is back in full, with its chromatic phrases, cousins of Khan’s motifs conceived two years earlier.
"It's percussive and atonal. I don't know how one would characterize it. It's obviously very different from any of the other themes. This film deals a lot with Klingons, and there's a lot of Klingon music in it." 13
"Star Trek is what it is. It's never going to be God's gift to man, never ever. And Star Trek is also the kind of thing that the studio, for better or worse, is never going to spend 50 million dollars making, either. They have a budget and certain constraints. I think that Star Trek III is the best of all the Star Treks. It's made with the most amount of feeling, in a certain sense, of all of them. It's made by someone who knows the characters of Star Trek so much more intimately than anybody else involved, except maybe Gene Roddenberry. The fact that Leonard Nimoy directed this film gives it a whole interesting light that it would never have had with anyone else. It was fascinating to work with him." 13
The Search for Spock marks the end of the James Horner Star Trek saga.
"What appeals to me about writing film music is that each project is completely different. I could have chosen to do another Star Trek or two or three Star Treks because I was certainly asked, but I wasn't interested after doing a couple of them."
2 – CinemaScore, issue # 11/12, 1983; interview by Randall D. Larson
3 – Documentary “James Horner: Composing Genesis” – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Restored) [Blu-ray] (2010) – Paramount Pictures
4 – Interview with James Horner by Didier Leprêtre,. Dreams to Dream … 's 1998.
5 – Star Trek II, excerpt from CinemaScore, issue # 10, Fall 1982; reviewed and interviewed by Randall D. Larson
7- Bond, Jeff; Kendall, Lukas; Kaplan, Alexander (2009). Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Expanded Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Media notes). Retrograde Records. p. 5.
10 – James Horner reveals the story behind five of his classic film scores – Interview by Sophie Monks Kaufman – Little White Lies – 30 April 2015.
11 – Anderson, Kay (1982). "'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan': How the TV series became a hit movie, at last". Cinefantastique 12 (5-6): 50–74.