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TMP@30: The Music of Star Trek: The Motion Picture December 9, 2009

by Jeff Bond , Filed under: Feature Films (TMP-NEM),Music,Review , trackback

Our week-long tribute to Star Trek The Motion picture continues today with a 30th Anniversary look at the music of the film. "Music of Star Trek" author Jeff Bond explores Jerry Goldsmith’s memorable (and Oscar-nominated) score, including a look at it’s history and production.


Jerry Goldsmith and Star Trek – The Motion Picture

By Jeff Bond

Jerry Goldsmith’s march from Star Trek – The Motion Picture is now so familiar and so long associated with the modern incarnations of Star Trek that it’s difficult to recall (especially because the period in question was before some of the readers of this website were born) when the notion of Goldsmith working on a Star Trek project was a staggering idea

According to the late and legendary film composer (whose legacy of film scores included works like Freud, Lonely Are the Brave, The Blue Max, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Chinatown and The Omen), Gene Roddenberry asked him to work on the original TV series in the sixties—a time when Goldsmith and other major film composers were dividing their work between movies and TV series. At the time Goldsmith was under contract to Twentieth Century Fox, doing films like Our Man Flint and working on TV shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. For whatever reason, Goldsmith was unavailable to do Star Trek and Alexander Courage—a friend of Goldsmith’s who became his regular orchestrator in later years—got the job. The two would be reunited, however briefly, when Star Trek – The Motion Picture was being scored late in 1979.

Goldsmith was arguably at the peak of his career that year. He’d won his first and only Oscar in 1976 for The Omen, and as studios scrambled to cash in on the success of Star Wars with bigger and bigger blockbuster films, Goldsmith went head to head with John Williams in terms of the two men’s workloads, public profiles and Academy Award nominations. 1978 had been a huge year for Goldsmith: an Oscar nomination for The Boys From Brazil, the eerie Michael Crichton medical thriller Coma, the first sequel to The Omen, Damien: Omen II, the Anthony Hopkins ventriloquism chiller Magic, even the Irwin Allen bomb The Swarm all boasted some of Goldsmith’s best work. 1979 started inauspiciously with Players, a soap opera about tennis players—but Goldsmith’s music was intelligent and energetic. Much better was Crichton’s Victorian period romp The Great Train Robbery. But Goldsmith had always had an affinity (whether he would admit it or not) for science fiction, and he would round out the year with two blockbuster science fiction scores that would define their genres.

Goldsmith picks up his Oscar for "The Omen"

First was Ridley Scott’s Alien—like Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes, a groundbreaking work of experimentation in sound, with an almost entirely acoustic orchestra creating a mood of ancient, primitive, utterly unfathomable terror. Goldsmith lent a romantic touch to the film, particularly in the lengthy landing sequence of the giant spacecraft Nostromo—but most of his similar touches were cut out of the movie by Scott, leaving Goldsmith frustrated when the director substituted some music from his 1962 score for the John Huston biopic Freud in place of some of Goldsmith’s cues.

The next assignment was equally grueling—but ultimately more rewarding. Gene Roddenberry’s production of a Star Trek theatrical movie had been in the works since the middle of the decade, mutating from film to television pilot and finally back to a big screen blockbuster in the wake of Star Wars. With Disney’s The Black Hole, Star Trek – The Motion Picture was the first of an onslaught of space and sci fi films engineered to capitalize on the success of the Lucasfilm adventure. But the Star Trek production ran into numerous pitfalls, especially late in the game when visual effects supervisor Robert Abel was sacked, replaced at the last minute with Star Wars and Close Encounters vets John Dykstra and Douglas Trumbull. The film’s postproduction was a nightmare, and Goldsmith was thrown into the middle of it. Sometimes conducting to blank leader, and always writing to fill unedited reams of fresh visual effects footage as it came in from the replacement teams, Goldsmith’s job was Herculean: honor the legacy of Star Trek; deliver on the excitement engendered by fans whose anticipation for the movie after a decade of reruns was at a fever pitch; find a way to make the film’s philosophical plot points register emotionally; find a musical language for Star Trek as a movie that could compete with—but not mimic—the thrilling symphonic sound John Williams had created for the Star Wars movies…and do it all on a deadline.

Goldsmith delivered the goods, although not without a few hiccups. His first takes on several key sequences (the travel pod tour around the refit U.S.S. Enterprise in drydock, the launch of the Enterprise and the rendezvous with Spock’s warp shuttle) were gorgeous and majestic—but Robert Wise was unhappy with the work, finding Goldsmith’s bold Americana writing too redolent of Westerns for his taste (“I kept thinking of conostoga wagons,” the director said. “There was no theme.”). Goldsmith worked on other cues, particularly the V’ger material, while he rethought his approach to Starfleet and the Enterprise. When he returned to the podium he’d created two vital new elements for the score: a pumping, busy motif for cellos and double basses that characterized the workings and mission of Starfleet, and his main theme for the movie itself: a bright, powerful, optimism-charged march with roots in the composer’s energetic, bell-driven action music from Players and the noble, martial Americana theme for Patton.

Featurette discusses unused cues and changes Goldsmith made

The first half of the film is dominated by the Enterprise and Starfleet material, the second half by the sinuous, motive-driven material Goldsmith wrote for V’ger: hypnotic material similar to Bernard Herrmann’s striking opening title music to Hitchcock’s Vertigo, designed to propel the listener through several very long visual effects sequences of the Enterprise maneuvering through the V’ger force field clouds on their way to the entity itself. Goldsmith used the Blaster Beam, a bizarre musical instrument designed by Craig Huxley (who’d appeared as a young actor in the original Trek episode “And the Children Shall Lead”), as a chilling clarion call for V’ger itself. Using guitar and piano strings struck by an empty metal artillery shell, the Blaster Beam created a bizarre gong sound with pitch bends that could be controlled by the player: it’s a sound that suggests a massive, incomprehensible force at work.

Goldsmith wrote equally alien music for Spock and Vulcan society: shifting harmonic strings, rumbling percussion (sometimes done with superballs striking piano strings) and an eerie, atonal four note theme for distressed woodwinds, befitting an ancient culture. But Goldsmith also provided a brighter, harp-based motif for Spock inspired by a section from Holst’s The Planets.

The Enterprise reveal scene – relied on Goldsmith’s score

Perhaps the most iconic music in the film apart from Goldsmith’s primary theme is something the composer wrote at the very last minute, mere days before the film’s premiere. Star Trek – The Motion Picture opens with “The Klingon Battle,” a bravura special effects action sequence that’s arguably the most exciting scene in the movie. Keying off the mix of open fifth horn writing and plucked strings he had used in John Milius’ Arab adventure The Wind and the Lion, Goldsmith added hollow clackers and vibrant avant garde string writing for the Klingon battle cruiser scenes, creating a mix that was part Prokofiev, part modern concert hall, with the Blaster Beam battling against Klingon horns as three Klingon warships are destroyed by V’ger. The music is a marvel of energy, tightness and activity. Watch the sequence and note how Goldsmith builds a surging rhythm of low strings through the Klingon bridge sequence, heightening the string line to violas and violins that dance right in time to the Klingon commander’s orders to arm and fire the ship’s torpedoes. The most shrill variation of the string line starts just as the Klingon (Mark Lenard) gives his dynamic, downward-thrusting hand gesture to fire, and the music whirls fiendishly around the resulting images of torpedoes bursting through the Klingon ship’s bow and the shot of the three torpedoes moving forward—and disappearing—on the Klingon’s tactical screens. It’s as if the Klingon commander is conducting the music in a way—a thrilling mixture of imagery, film editing and composition and something you rarely see at work in movies today. Goldsmith began his collaboration with recording engineer Bruce Botnick on Star Trek – The Motion Picture, experimenting with early digital recording technology to create one of the most fantastic-sounding LPs of the era. The stereo imaging in the music is a tour de force and it’s sometimes startling—as in the Klingon scene cutaway to the Epsilon Nine space station when an electronic, signal-like effect ricochets back and forth between the speakers while Goldsmith’s Starfleet motif pumps away underneath and glittering, spacey string and woodwind textures make for a luxurious—but still dramatic—interlude in the middle of the attack sequence.

Klingon battle sequence – another reliant on Goldsmith’

Goldsmith’s efforts did not escape notice when the film was finally released on December 7th, 1979. Even critics unimpressed with the film praised Goldsmith’s score—the album sales were strong and Goldsmith was nominated for another Academy Award (the film was also nominated for art direction and visual effects). Goldsmith was always a hard luck case at the Oscars, with powerhouse scores like Planet of the Apes, Patton, Chinatown and Under Fire losing out, sometimes to music that wouldn’t stand the test of time as well as Goldsmith’s. Star Trek – TMP was no exception. At the 1980 ceremonies Goldsmith’s score lost out to George Delerue’s A Little Romance—a film, and score, little remembered today. In a way Goldsmith may have been a victim of his own success—or at least the success of Star Wars. By 1980 the thrill of hearing symphonic motion picture scores was beginning to turn to a backlash, with critics favoring scores that were either more intimate (as the Vivaldi-flavored A Little Romance was) or contemporary (Vangelis’ electronic Chariots of Fire and the song score to Fame would win Best Score over the next two years). But Goldsmith’s Star Trek – The Motion Picture score remains one of the most spectacular and complex ever written for a film of this type, with Robert Wise even allowing Goldsmith to open the film with a pre-title overture of his idyllic love theme for the doomed character Ilia—the last time this holdover from the widescreen epics of the fifties and sixties would ever be used in American film theaters. Of course, Goldsmith’s music survived and endured—he would weave its themes into Star Trek V – The Final Frontier, Star Trek First Contact, Star Trek Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis, and his title march would become the musical imprint of the Star Trek – The Next Generation TV series in 1987, reinforcing it in the minds of fans as “the” theme to Star Trek. But with the anniversary of The Motion Picture at hand, we shouldn’t forget the scope and majesty of Goldsmith’s first, and arguably best, score for the movie series. It’s a landmark in science fiction scoring and in film music in general.

Goldsmith’s Main Title – never to be forgotten

The 20th Anniversary Soundtrack of Goldsmith’s Star Trek TMP Score is available at Amazon.



Jeff Bond is the author of The Music of Star Trek and numerous CD soundtrack liner notes; he covers film music for The Hollywood Reporter.



1. Praetor Shinzon II - December 9, 2009

This has always been one of my favorite movie soundtracks. I still pull it out and give it a listen to lift my spirit, especially needful in this era of gloom and doom.

2. KJTrek - December 9, 2009

The Enterprise flyby still gives me chills every single time I listen to it – truly a masterpiece. I think it would have been quite interesting to hear a Goldsmith take on The Wrath of Khan.

3. Sci-Fi Guy - December 9, 2009

Best. Soundtrack. Ever.

4. Sci-Fi Guy - December 9, 2009

Man, his wife was hot!!

5. Jai1138 - December 9, 2009

Excellent appreciation, Mr. Bond.

What do you think of the possibilities of a true full score (with unused and alternate cues) ever being released?

6. Marvin the Martian - December 9, 2009

Brilliant soundtrack. I got it as a Christmas gift in 1979 and played it to death. I still have the LP, complete with the special poster that was included!

7. AnotherQ - December 9, 2009

It’s was so good it was repeated on ST-Next Gen
and the new movie…. major kudos!

8. DAMMITJIM - December 9, 2009

BEST SOUNDTRACK EVER MADE FOR STAR TREK! Does anyone know were to get those alternative cues? Although not 100% befitting, I would love to listen to the whole thing.

9. SPB - December 9, 2009

In a way, I almost hate the fact that TNG incorporated Goldsmith’s TMP theme into its opening credits. Hearing week after week after week, for seven years straight, has admittedly diluted some of the power of hearing it over the credits of THE MOTION PICTURE.

But alas, it’s still stupendously glorious. And “Ilia’s Theme” is absolutely goregous.

10. SPB - December 9, 2009

And yes, Goldsmith’s wife is quite the looker, but DID YOU SEE ANN-MARGARET?!?!?!??!?!?

11. Allen Williams - December 9, 2009

the part where the enterprise is fully revealed STILL gives me chills every time i see it. That is my favorite shot of the whole star trek franchise.

12. Imrahil - December 9, 2009

Absolutely the best Trek score ever. Period.

I’d still like to hear the entirety of it–I know he didn’t want the bits where he referenced Alexander Courage to make it on to the CD (whenever Kirk does a captain’s log, generally, you hear it), but I love those too.

13. Imrahil - December 9, 2009

OH!…and one of the other nominees, Jerry Fielding, did some Classic Trek. Spectre of the Gun, I think?

14. Anthony Pascale - December 9, 2009

Great stuff Jeff, always learn something with your articles

15. RobertZ - December 9, 2009

Great article!
I’ve listened to the LP, cassette and CD countless times since their release.
Jerry Goldsmith was a master of an artist.

16. C.S. Lewis - December 9, 2009

Dear Jeffrey,

Yours is a beautiful essay on a beautiful man’s beautiful work.

C.S. Lewis

17. Sci-Fi Guy - December 9, 2009

#10 — Oh yeah! She looked great too!

18. GNDN - December 9, 2009

In 1979 I importuned my parents to buy the LP (even though we didn’t have a turntable) as well as the eight-track. This score formed the basis for a lifelong love of orchestral music. Even today I can find something new in the soundtrack.

I sent Jerry Goldsmith a fan letter and he dictated a response that was gracious and not at all condescending.

19. BenAvery - December 9, 2009

I’ve always loved this soundtrack, both the “old” version and the more recent reissue.

The music really makes the movie much, much better.

Something I just noticed when rewatching it was the way Ilia’s theme is woven into some of the V’ger music after Ilia is taken and recreated as an extension of V’ger. It’s an awesome little detail that enhances the themes and plot of hte movie.

I put Jerry Goldsmith up there as one of my favorite composers.

20. snoopytrek - December 9, 2009

#9 as a matter of fact…the cut played here above is the closing credits from STTNG….

If memory serves, and I’ll have to get out my CD and run it again, the opening credits for TMP tempo was a bit slower. Yes, that is the theme music, but not the original cut.

Eh, just being picky cause I like the movie version better than the rushed piece for TNG. You know TV, gotta rush, rush, rush.

I’ll never forget seeing Gene Roddenberry in the fall of 1980 when asked if he would change anything about the movie and he mentioned one was as Scotty is bringing the shuttle ’round and the music is building up and as we cut from Kirk’s expression to facing the E , he said he would of liked to have used the original series theme. In the director’s cut, I wish Bob Wise would have changed it to that.

21. Robogeek - December 9, 2009

One of the greatest film scores in the history of cinema – a towering, magnificent achievement. Three decades later, it remains a revelation.

Thanks to Jeff and Anthony for this great tribute. Well done.

22. King Zooropa - December 9, 2009

Terrific article. Thanks, Jeff.

My ST:TMP/Jerry Goldsmith story: I had my Bar Mitzvah in 1988. I was a 13-year old Star Trek geek, and so the “theme” for the party was outer space. I was introduced while a very bad rendition of the ST:TMP main theme was played over the speakers, and the video featured a collage set to “Ilia’s Theme.” It was cheesy (this was the 80’s after all), but delightful in its cheesiness.

23. 30 year Trek - December 9, 2009

Wish they would release the entire TMP score ala recent Kahn CD

24. jas_montreal - December 9, 2009

Amazing article jeff !

i really miss jerry goldsmith !

25. Enterprise - December 9, 2009

Jeez, what is this? Celebrate TMP week?

26. Anthony Pascale - December 9, 2009

um, yes

27. Son of Sarek - December 9, 2009

“There is no comparison” truly sums up the music of TMP. Indeed, the Main Title will be used for the entrance of my fiancee and I for our wedding reception!

28. Jeff Bond - December 9, 2009


That is the original TMP main title–that percussion and horn intro to the theme was never used in anything but the original motion picture score.

Without going into any specifics, let’s just say that the next year or so should be a good one for people who want more Star Trek movie and television music.

29. No2Khan - December 9, 2009

I not only have the original sound track from 1979, unopened & untouched completely pristine, I have the original receipt, the bag it came in and the dust from that day too, I think I have the ultimate collectible!

30. Son of Sarek - December 9, 2009

#28 – That is excellent news, Jeff! Will there be more TOS episodic scores? Ron Jones TNG soundtracks? Expanded Trek movie scores? When I first read about the complete TWOK score in July, I immediately ordered a copy. Always have collected and listened to Trek music.

31. CarlG - December 9, 2009

Thanks Jeff for a wonderful article on a masterpiece. I really loved the section on the Klingon Battle sequence — I never noticed how tightly choerographed it was with the movements onscreen. Awesome.

And the Blaster Beam rocks the house. :)

By the way, if anyone is into non-Trek soundtracks, you should check out the latest releases for the 007 movies. Mr. Bond (hur hur hur) wrote the liner notes for each soundtrack and they’re definately worth reading.

32. CarlG - December 9, 2009

@25: Must have missed the memo. And the header. And the opening sentence….

@27: I’d pick Illia’s theme myself, it’s gorgeous.

@28: Squee! I’m hoping for the soundtrack to “Friday’s Child”, myself. I think that’s the one that has that awesome “kill the redshirt” sting. :D

@29: Honestly, I know it’d kill the value but open it up and listen. Music like this is too good to hide under a display case.

“A Little Romance”? Georges DelaWHO? Really? Boo-urns, Academy. Boo-urns.

That was some insane competition Jerry Goldsmith was up against for the Oscar — Lalo Schifrin? Bernard Herrmann? Fellow Trek alum Jerry Fielding?? YIKES.
And doesn’t he look like the Third Doctor without the ponytail? :)

33. Rob Walley - December 9, 2009

I have always considered this the very best of all the Star Trek soundtracks. This one holds up better than all the rest with Goldsmith’s score for First Contact as a close second. I wore out two LPs when this soundtrack was released, a few cassettes and as many CDs. The piece of the Enterprise in drydock is just so powerful! The segment is too long, but Goldsmith’s score makes it totally satisfying. Contrast this to JJ Abrams/Giachino’s admitted tribute to this scene in the new movie which just flies by. Goldsmith’s music was complex and integral to the make up of the Star Trek movies and he will certainly be missed. We are lucky he worked on so many Trek productions before he passed, but luckiest for his contribution to TMP.

34. Buzz Cagney - December 9, 2009

#33 no question about it- definitely the best Trek score. Followed closely by that of Wrath.

35. Jim Nightshade - December 9, 2009

Great article-yes goldsmith at the top of his game n talent which was considerable-this music always stirs my soul-it soars literally into the cosmic vastness of space n the mystery of vger–Easily best score for any scifi movie ever made-it so deserves jeffs praise–Goldsmiths Logans Run is the next best music he has ever done-any scifi fans who have not seen logans run or heard the soundtrack highly recommended-What a genius–I am glad so many trek fans know tmp is the best score–

36. CHRIS ROD - December 10, 2009


37. JohnWA - December 10, 2009

I don’t know if anyone feels the same way, but I really enjoyed the music for The Undiscovered Country. It had a darker tone to it. You could probably use it for a Jack Ryan movie and nobody would notice.

38. captain_neill - December 10, 2009

This is one of my favourite film scores of all time.

It has an epic, sweeping and romantic quality that I love. The Blaster Beam sound was so cool and worked brilliantly for V’Ger.

Its a shame that film music is never this good these days. I miss Jerry Goldsmith, he was the best.

39. nick - December 10, 2009

The music, the ship … awesome.

I fell in love as a 7 year old at the first sight (& sound), and have never seen another starship since!

… and my handicap isn’t too bad either (in terms of being a one starship & song guy) :)

Great majestic music (& ship)!

40. Digginjim - December 10, 2009

The Enterprise sequence is great. Kirk falling in love with his first love all over again!

41. Ralph F - December 10, 2009

Still one of my favorite soundtracks of all time; I listen to it regularly. Majestic, powerful, emotional. One of the last film soundtracks, if I recall, to include an overture (with Ilia’s Theme playing over a moving starfield before the film began).

The buildup and fanfare when the refit ENTERPRISE is revealed is probably one of my favorite soundtrack and cinematic moments.

42. RTC - December 10, 2009

A fantastic soundtrack. I have great memories of sitting in the theater on Dec. 7, 1979, and listening to that incredible overture in the darkened theater. Gorgeous music and a brilliant touch.

43. madtrekfan - December 10, 2009

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek theme is the defacto Star Trek Theme!! JJ and co please take note for the next movie – as a nod (hell even a tribute) to the genius of Jerry Goldsmith please use his theme somewhere in the film! Always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end when I hear it!

44. Holger - December 10, 2009

I don’t know any better film music composer than Jerry Goldsmith.

45. TonyD - December 10, 2009

Jerry Goldsmith so deserved the Oscar that year for ST:TMP; his score was amazing – as this excellent article beautifully demonstrates. Too bad the academy did what it always does: decide honor a small movie that no one cared about and has been completely lost and forgotten over time. Meanwhile Goldsmith’s score continued to reverberate down the years and find new life again and again in the subsequent movies and TV shows.

I guess that’s what Salieri must have been talking about at the end of Amadeus when he compared his music, once celebrated but now growing fainter and fainter, to Mozart’s.

46. captain_neill - December 10, 2009


here here

47. pcr67 - December 10, 2009

RE: #28 “Without going into any specifics, let’s just say that the next year or so should be a good one for people who want more Star Trek movie and television music.”

Thank you, Mr. Bond- that is something to truly look forward to. The re-release of The Wrath of Khan score was amazing. I can’t wait to see what is coming up. On a somewhat related note, I know it is not a FSM release, but I am so excited to finally be getting Goldsmith’s score to Freud!

48. Starman - December 10, 2009

How difficult would it be to put out some kind of hi-res soundtrack, like SACD?

49. nx01 - December 10, 2009

For me Jerry Goldsmith’s march is the Star Trek theme.
Its the one theme that represents all of Star Trek. I hope they sneak it into the next movie. This is also the Ring tone on my I phone. In closing I just want to say that the 25th anniversary CD Sound Track is a treat to own, It is linked to this page ,and is on sale at amazon for 8 bucks. If you are a fan and like this theme treat your self. It comes in an awesome cover and 3d metallic Slip cover. You also get Gene Roddenberry’s inside Star Trek as a Bonus.

50. Captain Ahab - December 10, 2009

Oh my gosh! My “Trekkie Spirit” is being killed by ST:XI. I finally remember how great ST:TMP is, the music is great, the story is great, and Kirk’s love for the Enterprise is better in ST:TMP than in ST:XI.

51. Alec - December 10, 2009

TMP = decidedly ‘ok’ film; great score; great imagery.

I liked how (what became) the TNG Theme music was essentially Kirk’s Theme in TMP. I liked how it slowly and triumphantly built up as Kirk was doing something noteworthy. Powerful stuff…

It would be nice to have that music in Star Trek 12; and, preferably, not just in the credits. The same with the Klingon Theme, please, if Klingons are indeed in the next one.

52. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 10, 2009

The Sound Track made this Movie. The Movie was ok. But the Music made an ok Trek Movie much better. I would love to see a poll on Trek Move about all 11 movies sound track and see how everyone here votes. I know my vote will go to Tmp on the sound track. Love the score from start to finish.

53. Ralph F - December 10, 2009

Well, Pine’s Kirk *could* fall in love with the new ENTERPRISE at first glance — I mean, look at the size of those nacelles — but the love would seem to be fleeting, since there’s no substance. I mean, look at the girl, her insides are a brewery.


Seriously, though, that’s what I hated most about the new ENTERPRISE, weird pylon design notwithstanding; a brewery for the engine room? Really? Did any of you guys even see an episode of any of the series or any of the films? Can you recall one engine room set that looked like a redress of a brewery?

54. drapera - December 10, 2009

I wonder if Mr. Goldsmith really knew what his score for TMP means to us fans. I hope he did (does).

Thanks Jeff for a “teary” reminder of the magic that Star Trek and it’s music can have on all of us.


55. Ralph F - December 10, 2009

Sorry for the apparent thread hijack.

FWIW, I know what’s going to be on repeat in iTunes for me at my desk today.

56. Dr. Image - December 10, 2009

As a major Goldsmith fan, I thoroughly enjoyed your great article, Jeff.

His TMP score was the antithesis of the vile, Berman-mandated “sonic wallpaper” we had forced down our throats during the TNG era.
Speaking of which- it was Dennis McCarthy’s ham-handed original theme that got replaced by JG’s TMP theme for TNG. The original is on the “Encounter at Farpoint” score and certain cues can be heard during the episode. It’s kind of like the TMP theme played “sideways.”

At the time, the score was unfairly labeled as “bargain-basement John Williams.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Someone also once wrote “no one does shlock better than Goldsmith.” Not that TMP falls into that category, but JG did elevate an awful lot of otherwise shitty movies via his brilliant scoring.

And let’s not forget his score for Insurrection, which, IMO, is superior to FCs- although he continued the repetitive motifs he (sadly) started to use in TFF.

57. AC - December 10, 2009

I’m pretty sure that the first couple seasons of ST:TNG were a spliced and sped up version of the opening credits from TMP with a “space” sounding intro tacked on the beginning. I think in later seasons they theme was rerecorded with a symphony, or maybe just reedited to not be as obvious.

Anyone else notice this?

58. jas_montreal - December 10, 2009

@ Jeff Bond…

Jeff, I’m wondering…

What do you think of Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek 09 score ?

59. Simon - December 10, 2009

One of the best film scores ever and from my favorite composer. RIP JErry Goldsmith, you are missed.

For me the score to ST ’09 was OK, but I was very disappointed he didn’t use JG’s Enterprise theme. While it is slow and melodic, it can be orchestrated fast tempo, as JG did for the battle scenes that opened FIRST CONTACT.

60. Mark Lynch - December 10, 2009

I have never understood why Jerry Goldsmith did not get an Academy award for this score. I do not know of any other 30 year old film where its music is still discussed so much. But I bet someone can tell me… :-)

With regards to #52
I do not agree that ST-TMP was an okay movie made good by the soundtrack. I believe that it was a great film made wonderful because of the soundtrack.

But each to their own opinion of course.

I believe that JG did know how special we fans thought his music for ST-TMP.

To sum up, great music that has never been surpassed in any other Star Trek film since.

61. Horatio - December 10, 2009

Goldsmith was awesome. In my opinion one of the greatest film composers ever. The range of different styles was incredible. Many composers have a certain ‘sound’ that seems to repeat throughout their work (James Horner and yeah, even John Williams) that when you hear the music you can say “oh yeah, this is Horner or this is Williams” etc.
Not so with Goldsmith.

Just look at what he’s done, not only his work on Star Trek and others listed above but other beautiful soundtracks like Logans Run, Poltergeist, Hoosier, Rudy, Air Force One… its really breathtaking the variety he was capable of producing.

He was The Master.

62. screaming satellite - December 10, 2009

shame there wasnt a nod to the Goldsmith theme in Trek 09…

just a few seconds somewhere wouldve been enough (like the way they played Courages theme very briefly in TMP when Kirk was doing the Captains Log)

63. JimJ - December 10, 2009

Goldsmith’s stuff always left me in awe. Heck, even Air Force One, which he had to write SUPER FAST as a relacement score for a failed one (not sure who was supposed to do it, but no matter)…it works! Jerry is definitely missed. I enjoyed M.G.’s Star Trek score, but this one (and all of Jerry’s Star Trek work) touches a deeper part of my soul.

You are missed a great deal, Mr. Goldsmith. RIP!

64. CarlG - December 10, 2009

@58: Yeah, I just noticed that — nobdy did a review of the Trek 09 soundtrack on Trekmovie. That’s odd.

65. Jeff Bond - December 10, 2009

While I’m not a fan of Dennis McCarthy’s alternate TNG theme, when he wrote that it had already been decided to use Goldsmith’s ttheme for the series (Ron Jones wrote his score to the first “regular” episode, “The Naked Now,” before McCarthy scored “Encounter at Farpoint”–and Jones was told at that time that the TMP march would be the title music for the series).

I do enjoy Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek score quite a bit although I think it’s not well-served by the album and deserves a longer treatment (if you look at that album, over a third of the running time is the end titles and most of the major action sequences of the film are not on the CD). Giacchino is writing at a different time than Goldsmith and it’s tough to compare anyone to Jerry. If you talk to Giacchino, he was well aware of the expectations for music in the film and a number of approaches were tried, but what he discovered was writing closely to character–rather than writing a big, romantic space spectacle score–was what worked best for the film. I can find something to enjoy in all the Star Trek movie scores–they are great platforms for music. People might complain about the strength of themes in Giacchino’s work but remember that for the past 10 years the trend has been AWAY from thematic, symphonic movie scores. Giacchino is one of the few film composers who can get away with writing full-bore, complex orchestral music and it’s very likely he’ll get an Oscar nomination for Up. But Jerry Goldsmith is definitely the gold standard for me and my favorite composer.

66. SChaos1701 - December 10, 2009

As much as I loved Goldsmith’s soundtrack, for some reason, Giacchino’s just hits me like no other. I just can’t get enough of that soundtrack.

67. Jeff Bond - December 10, 2009

One other thing–remember that one of the chief goals of the movie in a way was to “distance” itself from the previous movie series entries and build a new Trek universe (whether you agree with that idea or not). I don’t know if referencing Goldsmith’s TMP theme was ever discussed–I doubt it–but I do think it would have been counterproductive given this goal. Just like the people who had to redesign the Enterprise, Giacchino had an impossible task ahead of him. I’ve heard people insist there needed to be a reference to Goldsmith’s music, to James Horner’s Star Trek music, to music within TOS episodes. Most composers strive to write a coherent piece of music and Giacchino I think rightly limited himself to referencing the BEGINNING of Star Trek music, very appropriate since this movie reboots the series back to before what we saw in the original show. Referencing Goldsmith’s music–which in Trek lore occupies a universe that’s in the “future” where this new film is concerned really makes no sense.

68. NCC-73515 - December 10, 2009

Ilia’s Theme is even on standard ballroom dance CDs ;)

69. Scotty - December 10, 2009

Definitely the best of Goldsmiths music for Trek, and in my opinion the best of all the Trek scores. Artistic, Operatic, epic, romantic, Mystical .. what more do you want in music.

Giacchino didn’t even come close to this. Jerry is the MAN!

70. SChaos1701 - December 10, 2009

I’m going to have to disagree. I think Giacchino’s score was better. Can’t explain it….it just sounds better to me.

71. Andy Patterson - December 10, 2009

I always loved TMP version of the theme much better than the re-done version for TNG. The trumpet lines are long and legato. Almost labored, as if it takes energy and effort to move through space. Good choice Gerry. I never liked how the LA studio guys re did it for TNG. It was so choppy and sounded like a holiday Christmas carol. It did great battles with my sensibilities and emotional familiarity with the original movie version. The only thing that settled me down after hearing it was to hear Ernie Anderson’s VO on the commercials saying “Star Trek, the next generation”. His presence at least was familiar.


“Without going into any specifics, let’s just say that the next year or so should be a good one for people who want more Star Trek movie and television music.”

Great! Hope it’s stuff from the original show. So much great stuff written for that show. So many great thematic ideas which became the musical vocabulary of the original show. And it needs to be heard and reheard. I have your book by the way.

72. captain_neill - December 10, 2009



Giacchino did a good score but it was NO WHERE near as good as Jerry Goldsmith’s

73. Michael Hall - December 10, 2009

A number of the original cues for TMP are available on YouTube. The following link is for a performance of “The Enterprise” track that Goldsmith conducted for the Glasgow Philharmonic back in 1979, which I actually prefer to the version heard in the film (I think it’s just a deeper, richer performance of a wonderful piece of music):

74. Andy Patterson - December 10, 2009


” So much great stuff written for that show. So many great thematic ideas which became the musical vocabulary of the original show. And it needs to be heard and reheard. ”

and stuff by the way I wish the latest movie had tried to use in some way. I found nothing memorable, or maybe more personally, nothing that spoke to me about the latest score.

75. Author of The Vulcan Neck Pinch for Fathers - December 10, 2009

@70, SChaos1701, I don’t know what you’re on, but putting Giacchino’s score on a par with Goldsmith’s is like comparing toilet paper to silk.

Goldsmith’s TMP orchestration is what led me to start paying attention to musical scores at all, and developing even a marginal sense of appreciation for them. It led me to like some composers, dislike others, but one thing remains constant: the Goldsmith TMP score is in a class *beyond* “all by itself.” Even thirty years later, it remains as epic, as listenable, and as inspiring as the first time I heard it.

By comparison, Giacchino’s effort sounds like something put together by a high school garage band. It was manifestly disappointing.

But I don’t post to bury Giacchino’s lackluster effort. Here’s to praise the memory of the great work Goldsmith did for Trek!

76. freakshowmonkey - December 10, 2009

My fiancee wants to use Ilia’s theme for the bridesmaid’s enterance music at our wedding. And she hated TMP. That’s how good Goldsmith’s music is.

77. Kev -1 - December 10, 2009

Nice article. I think the STTMP main theme is one of the few themes I can hear repeatedly and still enjoy immensely. It sums up the energy, optimism, wonder and scope of Trek succinctly. Jerry Goldsmith was phenomenal. During the 80’s and 90’s it seemed there were always three of four good movies to see on any given weekend. Yes, there are good movies today, but the output doesn’ t seem as deep in quality or plentiful. Anyway, my friends and I used to get stuck on what to see. Frequently, we would choose to see the movie Jerry Goldsmith scored, because his music could make the movie enjoyable.

78. Shikon - December 10, 2009


I dont know if Giacchino is better, but for it sounds better for me too….

79. Admiral Waugh - December 10, 2009

Jeff, great article. One question, you mention that Courage and Goldsmith only reunited briefly — but I thought Courage conducted for Goldsmith virtually up until his death I believe… is that true?

Giacchino’s is just so different from the score from ST:TMP, it’s hard for me to compare. I certainly enjoy the TMP more and think it comes across more beautifully on screen. ( I only listen to the First Contact score almost nearly as often….) But the Giacchino score really does work for STXI.

80. Will_H - December 10, 2009

For me Jerry Goldsmith’s score to this movie was by far its best quality. Just to start we got both the lasting Klingon theme from it and of course what has lasted (at least sadly up till the latest movie) as an official Star Trek theme, one far better than the lame 60’s theme to TOS. I still hope they bring it back because its timeless and to me trying to leave it out would be like making a Star Wars movie without John Williams theme to go with it. The rest of the score was great as well, mostly the V’Ger parts. The man was a genius, and I still think the best Star Trek composer by far. Its a shame he’s not around any more. I can only imagine how much better the latest film would have been had he composed its score.

81. SChaos1701 - December 10, 2009


Believe what you want to believe and I’ll KNOW what I KNOW.

82. Jim Nightshade - December 10, 2009

Anyone interested there is a Logans Run Complete Soundtrack out now from the same great peoples that released twof soundtrack….Logans Run needed it badly as the previous CD releases were sonically inferior and very incomplete….Goldsmiths mix of electronic and traditional music made that movie much better just like his music for TMP improves it….His love them for logans run is as beautiful as Ilias theme as well…

83. Simon - December 10, 2009

Wanted to add:
I prefer the film’s added “percussive” parts of the theme “the ba-bum” at the beginning and the “ba-ba-ba-bum!” at the very end that is not present on the CD soundtrack version.

My last GF I gave the score to, and she would prep herself every morning to it, driving her roommate nuts. She hadn’t seen TMP either (she saw and enjoyed II-IV and the TNG films but grew restless when I tried to show her TMP).

84. Gary - December 10, 2009

I never cared for the TMP theme, but at least it doesn’t make me want to claw out my ears like “Faith of the Heart” does.

ST 2-4 theme is much better, especially the way the TOS theme is incorporated into it.

85. MC Doctor - December 10, 2009

My late Father-in-Law (Richard Sperber) was an award-winning sound effects man at 20th Century Fox for decades. He worked and battled with Goldsmith on several productions – getting awards for both on the Omen.

I’ve heard stores from him, and later my wife and brother-in-law that Goldsmith was real good at creating mood and often tried to use his music in lieu of a sound effect – hence their rivalry. Both men were strong willed about their craft.

It’s a hoot to visit my bother-in-law’s home and listen to reel-to-reel tapes of sound affects and phrases from Richard’s work. As he was a favorite of Irwin Allen’s we just about lose it as we listed to a dozen different versions of “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”

Especially my wife, who had a crush on Bill Mumy (as they were about the same age at the time).

86. dubb - December 10, 2009

#85… Thanks for the cool story!

87. dubb - December 10, 2009

#76… it would be awesome if they used that theme for the bridesmaids, then use a Blaster Beam and transition to the v’ger music, and all of the bridesmaids change from smiles to cold blank stares. Then they point to the end of the aisle and say “V’ger!” … and they roll a giant satellite down the aisle. You can even change up the lighting in the church and have some flashing blue lights placed randomly around the sanctuary. Also, the bride can be bald and put the garter on top of her head instead of on her leg. Sure, it would make small children cry, but it would be a memorable wedding day.

88. Dr. Image - December 10, 2009

#65 Jeff–
Well, when do you think we’ll get a full treatment of Giacchino’s score?
I’m really interested in what was left out. We had to wait so long for the (sort of) complete version of TMP.
The thing that bugs me about Giacchino’s score is that the main theme feels like a SECONDARY theme- not that that’s bad, it’s just that I think he could have expanded upon other themes in his score to better effect.
And Ron Jones? Cheers to him for writing thematic material for TNG. Of course, it got him fired, but that was their loss.
After TMP, I remember hoping for a Goldsmith Trek score with more of an Apes/Logan’s Run feel. Alas, he had gone in a different direction by TFF. Actually, his NEM score has some nice dark almost Herrmannesque moments, and I actually prefer it to his FC score.
All in all though, Goldsmith rules.

89. spock´s hairderesser - December 10, 2009


the dumped “sailboats” cue for the enterprise was re-used in ST:TFF!!

it just sounded so familiar i looked it up… it´s when we get a close-up on the enterprise in spacedock… it sounds very similar, at least to my ear!!

check it out her, from 1:29 through 1:50:

tell me what you think!!

90. Scott B. here. - December 10, 2009

Jeff: Great article about a great score. Just think how unwatchable TMP — and I DO like the movie — would be without that deeply layered, multi-faceted score backing it up. I shudder to think.

BTW, my wife bought me the “7th Voyage of Sinbad” soundtrack for my birthday last month. I enjoyed your liner notes muchly!

Scott B. out.

91. Fubamushu - December 10, 2009

I’m on my iPhone right now (complete with TMP Main Title ringtone edited in GarageBand), so I don’t have access to the link or the podcast, but Film Score Monthly did a review of Star Trek scores from the original series to the most recent film. A couple of items from the podcast caught my attention.

As original as we all think Mr. Goldsmith’s Klingon theme is, the Klingon theme is remarkably similar to Von William’s 4th Symphony and if he were alive today Von William could probably sue for infringement.

While I’m hesitant to use this discussion of Mr. Goldsmith’s score to criticize another score, after listening to the TMP soundtrack, Giacchino’s soundtrack sounds even more uninspired and vapid.

While the podcast does not describe the new soundtrack in such terms, they do say that all of the previous soundtracks have a distinctly classical feel (due in part to the fact the the composers were classically trained and inspired) whereas Giacchino’s has a very Hollywood feel to it. They state it sounds like the score to a comic book action film such as Spiderman or Batman. And that’s the audience the film is aimed at.


It is hard to compare the last of the truly epic motion picture scores with a score inspired by comic books.

92. John in Canada, eh? - December 10, 2009

A great soundtrack. I used to listen to the Drydock track in my beastly car when I was first learning to drive. A fantastic addition to the Trek legacy.

However — no disrespect intended — I don’t think his work in the later TNG features was great. ‘First Contact’ wasn’t bad, but only the opening theme to ‘Insurrection’ is memorable, and ‘Nemesis’ is almost unlistenable. And I never really got into hearing the TMP ‘Klingon’ fanfare everytime we saw Worf on screen.

93. The Guardian - December 10, 2009

Dubb-post #87:

Brilliant! Just brilliant! LMAO!

94. Ensign RedShirt - December 10, 2009

Best Star Trek score EVER; also one of the all time great film scores.

95. Magic_Al - December 10, 2009

Regarding TNG’s use of the theme, I think the first-season orchestration is a well-executed effort to scale down the theme for a living room instead of a theater. The smaller orchestra costs less, of course, but it also sounds more intimate. It’s just a few horns and a few strings and the first-season arrangement doesn’t try to hide that. It was re-arranged and re-recorded in later seasons to sound bigger and louder and more like a film soundtrack, but in hindsight the first-season arrangement has grown on me.

96. Blowback - December 10, 2009

I vividly remember the first shots of the Enterprise along with the accompanying score. It was impressive beyond words and that still holds true thirty years later.

97. Jeff Bond - December 10, 2009

The rejected Vulcan shuttle cue from TMP was rearranged and used by Goldsmith for the space station/shuttle shot in Star Trek V, yes. Giacchino has talked about wanting to do a second CD of music from Abrams’ Star Trek, I don’t know what the chances are of that but it’s possible. It’s expensive to do these albums when they’re recorded in Los Angeles–the reason they’re often 45 minutes in length is that you pay for the first 30 minutes, then in five minute increments up to 45 minutes, and after that you’re paying a higher rate for every added MINUTE of music.

98. freakshowmonkey - December 11, 2009

#87: Well, truth to tell…Most of her bridesmaids have cold, blank stares on when I’m around anyway! Good work!

99. Jupiter 2 - December 11, 2009

TO: 85. MC Doctor – December 10, 2009

Please drop me an email at if you get a chance??

I tried contacting you, but was unsuccessful.


100. Anthony Thompson - December 11, 2009

That film had great music, great sets, great special effects and a great cast. All it needed was a good story.

101. blah - December 11, 2009

An excellent article. ST:TMP has my favorite music from all the movies. Too bad the director’s cut DVD messed with it a bit – it seemed to bring the effects forward and push the music back a bit.

Man, did Ann-Margaret look hot in that first clip or what!

102. Al Hartman - December 11, 2009

Jerry Goldsmith is my favorite composer. This soundtrack, the soundtrack to Supergirl, and several of the other Star Trek movies he composed are my favorites.

This soundtrack or Superman The Movie continuously inhabited my turntable or cassette player in the early 80’s.

Somewhere, I got a copy of an alternate (earlier) take of the drydock sequence. It’s wonderful! I hope an album of similar alternate takes is made someday.

I liked the score to the new movie, though I thought the main title just wasn’t memorable. I feel the same about the Generations main title, though it has grown on me over time.

Ibought the 25th Anniversary Soundtrack when it was first released. Really nice. Get it, if you don’t already have it.

103. Bill Lutz - December 11, 2009

Klingon theme is still the best.

104. David C. Fein - December 11, 2009

I miss Bob and Jerry…

105. Cafe 5 - December 11, 2009

This is hands down my favorite Goldsmith score. This score is the best of all the Trek films. I even like its use for ST:TNG after all the adventure was continuing. If Jerry hadn’t been tied up with film scoring when Star Trek first aired he might have written the theme for the show instead of Courage. The next closest to knowing what music worked for Star Trek was Ron Jones and his many wonderful music for many TNG episodes.

106. Joseph - December 11, 2009

loved this article, one of my favs ever on this site! thanks!

107. Anthony Pascale - December 12, 2009

i would have to say the TMP score is my favorite of the films, it certainly feels the most fully realized.

As for Giacchino’s score for ST09, Jeff is of course correct about how it would have been the wrong way to go to make it more like Horner/Goldsmith. I don’t think ‘it wasn’t enough Horner/Goldsmith/Courage/Fried/etc is a fair critique…as MG said, the Trek music had to be ‘earned’. That being said, I don’t think it is Giacchino enough. I like the music but i feel it wasnt his best work. There just isn’t enough variety and the album certainly doesn’t sell it well.

108. whitman stone - December 12, 2009

Hey! Why take a dump on “A Little Romance”, a really lovely film that is UNDERVALUED because of shitty remarks like this writer’s. Yeah, it’s only got Laurence Olivier and 13 year old Diane Lane. Must be hardly worth watching. Dumbass. And the score’s great too.

109. whitman stone - December 12, 2009

And before you mistake a quote for wit, let me beat you to the punch with a Double Dumbass On You. is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.