VIDEO & Highlights: Michael Giacchino On Star Trek Music, Sequel, & more |
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VIDEO & Highlights: Michael Giacchino On Star Trek Music, Sequel, & more September 8, 2010

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Conventions/Events/Attractions,Music,Star Trek (2009 film) , trackback

Over the weekend Star Trek composer (and Oscar-winner) Michael Giacchino was the guest speaker for a screening of the movie in West Los Angeles. The discussion covered his approach to the first Star Trek, the Klingon music that didn’t make it into the film, possible ideas for the sequel and more. We have full video from the event, plus some highlight bullet points on what he had to say.


Michael Giacchino on Star Trek 2009, Star Trek 2012 and more

The chat with Giacchino, moderated by "Music of Star Trek" author Jeff Bond, was very interesting and is very much worth watching in full for any fan of Giacchino’s and/or film and TV music (see 40 minute video below).

And for those with short attention spans, here are some highlights

Giacchino on Star Trek (and sequel)

Giacchino on other work and his creative process:




Jeff’s book and Giacchino’s Star Trek score are available at Amazon.

Varese Sarabande also produced a limited deluxe edition of the Star Trek soundtrack, which sold out but is available on the secondary market (at a premium) from some Amazon resellers.



1. Kyle H - September 8, 2010

Well, I’m a musician, and, as a kid I wanted to score movies (and sometimes still do), so it’s fun to be… “first” (it looks like).

I enjoyed the score and savored little hints of Horner’s score to STII here and there. I personally would have liked a longer main theme — felt very short and more superhero-esque.

Thanks, Anthony, for a great site. I post here once in a while, and I was at the STIV screening, incidentally. Worked it into a little vacation time (I’m not from SoCal).

2. Locutus of FSJ - September 8, 2010

No way would I sell my deluxe edition of the score… I already have troubles listening to the original version because it now seems so truncated! I love this score.

3. Surak1701 - September 8, 2010

While I don’t think it’s up there with the two classics (TMP and Khan), it’s still an excellent score, and much better than some of the others. I love Spock’s elegiac theme and like the emotional, courageous main theme. On the flipside, for me the worst Trek movie scores are TVH (too hapharzard and sprawling) and Nemesis (anodyne, Goldsmith phoning it in).

4. Jim Nightshade - September 8, 2010

Wow Nice Interview and thoughts from MG—Knew some of it from the Star Trek DVD—Everything made sense musically. THe opening sequence one of the best from the whole movie….because it concentrated on the emotion n love story and sadness of the birth and death at the same time…music perfect for this sequence…then the build up and bombastic main theme with the giant Star Fleet…

Cant wait to see what MG comes up with for next Trek. Sure hope he will be the composer and jj director again…

Would like to hear his Peter Pan score he did for fun. haha…What a great and detailed interview thanks Anthony!

5. smegger56 - September 8, 2010

ST 09 is deffiantly on if the best movie scores out IMO.

It’s deffo (in no order) ST09, STTMP, STTWOK, STTUC. Amazing.

6. Shunnabunich - September 8, 2010

Except for the truly awful main theme (which, sadly, is expected to stand in for about 80% of the score; at least, it seemed that way while watching), there’s some really good work in Star Trek’s score. When you don’t nail the main theme, though, and you don’t bother to compose original music for most scenes, it pulls the legs out from under the whole thing. I don’t know what he would’ve needed — more time, different sources of inspiration, a good whack upside the head — but I wish he’d received it while he was still writing. Yes, I know that I must seem like a troll to those who’ve been Trek-deprived long enough to find ST09 acceptable. Such is the internet.

7. somethoughts - September 8, 2010

Love this guy

8. Serena Warren - September 8, 2010

I hope that they include Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music from the Star Trek Insurrection end credits at the end of the next Star Trek film. They should have used it at the end of the last film. It would be good if they also include Russell Watson’s ‘Where My Heart Will Take Me’ (the excellent album version). The Original Series theme music and new theme music in the last movie was unnecessary. The soundtrack was disappointing overall. ‘Labour of Love’ was the best part of it.

9. G - September 8, 2010

This guy is VERY overrated. Don’t get me wrong, the main theme music was good, I really like it. HOWEVER.. if you really pay attention to the movie, the music theme NEVER CHANGED throughout the WHOLE MOVIE! It was just the same main music them from the opening credits, recycled over and over again.. just with slight variations in instrumentation, tone, etc. There weren’t any distinctively different themes (for example: Reliant/Kahn in ST: II, Klingon music, etc, etc). The music for Nero was the same as the opening credits, the theme for the Enterprise was the same, Old Spock, etc, etc. Same theme, over and over again, for every scene (just played a little differently for each). I’m sorry, but that doesn’t impress me. Anyone who disagrees with me should watch it again, and really pay attention to it. It doesn’t change at all.

10. Gary Neumann - September 8, 2010

E P I C ! =)

11. TJ Trek - September 8, 2010

no offense to Micheal G. but I’m not the hugest fan of his Star Trek score, but I do love Up and Incredibles. He hit the right notes on those two films, and hit them out of the park as well. I also am a huge fan of his Lost work.

12. Alec - September 8, 2010

Oh dear: so we’re not going to get more (any) of the Star Trek Music! The Klingon Theme, Kirk’s Theme, TMP theme, etc., are fantastic pieces of music that ought to be in the sequel if at all relevant to the story. The music in star trek 2009 was so generic: it could have been the soundtrack to pretty much any blockbuster music; apart from the final theme, there was no ‘Star Trek’ in the star trek score. Returning to JJ’s favourite subject, Star Wars, that franchise (like every other) has key pieces of music that are instantly identifiable and play at certain moments or emotions: Imperial March, Force Theme, Yoda’s Theme, etc. His Star Trek could have had something like this. Finally, the music in Trek 2009 was also very repetitive: the main crescendo, though good, played three or four times: almost whenever it was a major action set-piece. Compared to the work of Horner and Goldsmith, even the unsung Eidelman, I thought that Giacchino’s was not great, frankly.

13. Imrahil - September 8, 2010

I think he’s great, and I like his other work, but his score for Trek 09 was pretty lame. Probably not his fault, it sounds like.

14. CarlG - September 8, 2010

His list of influences sounds like my CD collection — I knew there was a reason I loved this guy! ;)

15. Weerd1 - September 8, 2010

Happy Star Trek Day everyone!

When I was in deepest doubt before the release of JJTrek, I heard the soundtrack, and it was the first thing I really bought into. I hear a lot of complaints about his soundtrack, but the title sequence music is a bold piece of music which fits the film and Enterprise reveal perfectly. The music when the Enterprise drops from warp to save Spock by destroying the Narada’s missiles, and then when she escapes the Black Hole are memorable and well delivered.

How well can you recall the music from ANY Next Generation film? Except for the trumpet piece when we get the Locutus flashback zooming into the Borg cube, I honestly can’t recall music from any TNG film that wasn’t written by Gilbert, Sullivan, or Irving Berlin.

16. Cafe 5 - September 8, 2010

Wow its been 44 years ago today thar Star Trek aired for the first time. My how time flies. Giacchino’s film scores are amazing even his work on some video games is awsome…but his score for Trek 09 is just OK and function well for the movie but its hardly his best work…maybe next time he’ll do better.

17. sean - September 8, 2010


If you don’t want to be thought of as a troll, perhaps you might avoid insulting everyone that liked the movie and score by implying they were desperate and simply didn’t know any better. It’s kind of like the people that say anyone who didn’t like the movie is an old crank that simply can’t let go of the past. They’re both trolls, see, even though they’re on opposing sides. It’s weird how that works!

18. Buzz Cagney - September 8, 2010

A very memorable score that did the job more than well enough when needed.
And I’d be delighted to hear some of the wonderful original music reworked in the next movie.

(and Kyle @ No1 kudos to you for grabbing boasting rights on making it to No1 and yet still make a worthwhile post. Very refreshing! ;-) )

19. John from Cincinnati - September 8, 2010

If there is any doubt where the film scores should come from just listen to the Original Series. It’s music is perfect.

20. Stan Winstone - September 8, 2010

Was totally underwhelmed by MG’s take on Star Trek. Which is funny because I love his work on Up, Incredibles, Lost etc. But he felt way off the mark in so much of what he did for this film. I’m hoping he’ll remember to bring back a sense of the fantasy that really works in classic movie and TV Trek and not just the straight ahead action/jazzyiness he did that in a couple of years will really date this first ‘new’ Trek film…

21. jas_montreal - September 8, 2010

omg, its jeff bond ! Haven’t heard from that guy in a long time.

22. rm10019 - September 8, 2010

Thanks for asking my Amok Time quetion. I agree with MG that it could be reorchestrated to not be a ‘laugh-line’. Perhaps at first those who recognize it will react but that’s a good thing, esp if it could be used to ramp up an action scene.

23. Tallguy - September 8, 2010

If he’s talking about the film composer it’s John Barry, not Berry.

24. Dr. Image - September 8, 2010

Spock’s theme SHOULD have been the main theme.
The main theme sounds like an unfinished afterthought.
Still, I love MG’s work, AND the score as a whole.

25. JL - September 8, 2010


You said what I’ve been thinking ever since I watched it the second time on Blu-Ray. The epic scope, the action, the drama, the HUGE spectacle of Star Trek… it was treated so very blandly overall in this film, from a soundtrack perspective. The main theme does get recycled over and over and over and over… just lame. What a missed opportunity.

I really hope the music is improved for the sequel.

26. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

Personally, I happen to have loved Giacchino’s Star Trek score, and having the Deluxe Edition certainly gives a better picture of the score than the original soundtrack CD.

This is an excellent score in many ways, but is also a very different approach to scoring Star Trek, precisely as required by the film.

If there’s one thing that would be seen as missing, it might be the graceful romanticism we see in the other Star Trek movies. It’s more punchy as opposed to stately and grand.

Ironically, this subtle difference in approach nudges the music closer to the original series than past movies, and this was the right way to go.

I suspect that the next movie may have the opportunity to produce some of the grace and grandeur that Trek 09 did not have the opportunity to present.

It may be that the pace was that much faster, so the score may not have had a chance to breath in quite the same way as previous films.

Think of Star Trek III, when Kirk sees the Enterprise destroyed, and he asks “whay have I done”, with Bones’ “what you had to do” reply, and the music for that scene.

Or in Star Trek II, when Kirk enters the Genesis Cave with Carol Marcus.

Or in TMP, when Kirk sees the Enterprise for the first time.

There is a sense of wonder, almost a pause to take in the beauty or power of a scene, and that is, I think, what may have been sacrificed in Trek ’09.

It is my favorite of the movies, and one of my favorite scores.

27. Polly - September 8, 2010

I really want to know what that unused “space music” sounded like.

His work on ST09 was alright. Not the best, but good nontheless

28. rm10019 - September 8, 2010

26 – I have to disagree slightly. I understand what you mean, but the sweeping, touching and beautiful ‘Labour of Love’ track deserves consideration here.

29. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

28 – Good example and point.

27 – It would be curious to hear, but it may be at the stage of synth mockups to picture, before the score was even fleshed out and put to the orchestra on the scoring stage.

There fact that the Klingon scene was actually scored and recorded is a bit of a revelation, actually.

30. Newman - September 8, 2010

This guy is really good. The soundtrack to Trek is safe in his hands.

31. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

12 – He’s been around on the Film Score Monthly boards forever, and has his fingers in a lot of thier releases. I think he works with them, and wrote the liner notes to The Edge from LaLaLand (don’t quote me on that, I’m going from memory here).

He’s also at Comic-Con every year, often on the Starship Smackdown panel on sunday nights (usually one of the last panels before the Convention Center kicks us out). He’s got a great sense of humor, as that panel can attest.

32. Author of "The Vulcan Neck Pinch For Fathers" - September 8, 2010

Sorry, said it before, will say it again; Giacchino is not the man for Trek. He’s a fine composer, but his handling of the ST09 score was vacant, detached, and eminently disappointing. Its the first Trek score I truly regretted purchasing. I think its simply a matter of a mismatch in styles.

I will offer props to the overture as Kirk is born and the ship plows into the Romulan vessel, but that’s one small gem out of a bland score.

Granted, it isn’t fair to compare Giacchino to a master like Goldsmith, but if you take on that franchise, the comparisons are going to come. ST 09 deserved better.

I wish we could expect a true, defining theme in the next Trek feature, yet I fear we won’t be getting one. What a shame. Truly an opportunity lost.

33. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

32 – I 100% disagree.

The music is extremely emotional at times, with Vulcan’s destruction, older Spock’s appearance, and yes, Kirk’s birth. Hardly “detached” or “Vacant”.

34. Ralph F - September 8, 2010

Big fan of Giacchino’s — have loved his scores for years, notably THE INCREDIBLES (Johnny Quest meets James Bond sound), ROAR! (end credits music from CLOVERFIELD and an excellent homage to kaiju film scores), and especially SPEED RACER — hell, it was his work on SR that made me so excited he was doing STAR TREK. SR has the old cartoon theme (and incidental themes) woven throughout it, and his end credits (excellent, excellent piano work) are perfect.

TREK just kind of fell flat for me; I loved how he brought in the TOS music at the end, and I understand the whole “after they’d earned it” viewpoint, but I was truly hoping to hear some TOS music in the mix.

35. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

34 – The next movie, it would be more appropriate.

If the music does not fit the movie, game over for both.

36. Majicou - September 8, 2010

I’m still baffled by people insisting that Giacchino should be quoting Goldsmith or Horner or whomever. In eleven films, six composers have never quoted each other. They’ve used Alexander Courage’s fanfare and theme, but otherwise only their own material.

37. James - September 8, 2010

Jerry Goldsmiths theme is just as much a part of trek lore as Alexander Courage’s original theme and it would be such a shame if it were to be cast aside – it would be like star wars losing the imperial death march/ darth vaders theme!

Mr Giacchino if you do read this im sure you can think of a suitable way to incorporate Goldsmiths theme!!

38. Kent Butabi - September 8, 2010

IT WAS THE SAME FREAKING LINE OF NOTES — over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over.

Did I make my point?

His UP score was fantastic. I hope that if he does the next move his is as inspired as he seemed to be on the animated flick.

I am done.

39. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

37 – Goldsmith’s theme was simply not a part of TOS, which in spirit, this film is the origin for.

There is simply no way to introduce that theme in an appropriate way.

Believe me, I LOVE Goldsmith’s main theme for Star Trek: TMP, which was kind of a love theme for Kirk and the Enterprise (see “The Enterprise” on the soundtrack), as well as a fanfare (see “Leaving Drydock”).

38 – The theme may have the same notes, but there was actually a lot of variation in it’s use.

The introspective “Hella Bar Talk” sounds nothing like the bombastic “Enterprising Young Men”, nor does it sound anything like the slightly mysterious opening cue “Star Trek”. And yet they use the same theme over and over again.

There is also a great weaving of the theme as a “B Theme” bridge to Alexander Courage’s original theme from TOS in the end credits, with Courage’s theme in the high strings before returning to the main theme.

As far as someone’s excellent research made out, there are at least 6 major themes:

Main Theme – a 16 note theme that the composer has referenced as Kirk’s Theme, but is used throughout the score liberally in many scenes with and without Kirk. Introduced in the film quietly over the opening logos, strains of it are next heard when Kirk’s mother clutches her stomach when leaving the Kelvin. Giacchino’s original intentions were not to have the fully orchestrated version appear until the first shot of The Enterprise in space, but in the final film it appears over the Main Title (as the music is tracked from the Enterprise reveal scene). After that it is used very often in the score, never going more than a few cues without reappearing again.

Nero’s Theme – Nero’s evil 7-note theme is used for Nero and his crew during the first half of the movie, however after the sequence over Vulcan it only used two more times before the End Credits.

Spock’s Theme – This 5-note theme is usually played on the erhu to emphasize Spock’s Vulcan side, but is often played in a faster setting with the rest of the orchestra, weaving in and out of the Main Theme or B Theme.

Cadet’s Theme – This 5-note theme is occasionally intermingled with the Main Theme during scenes where the cadets and other fleet members are involved in the action. It debuts over a shot of the hangar at Starfleet as everyone scrambles to help Vulcan, as is last heard when Spock appears on the Enterprise at the end of the movie wishing to join its crew.

Vulcan Theme – A 4-note theme introduced quietly on string as Spock mourns the destruction of his planet. It is next played during Kirk and Spock Prime’s mind-meld, and is then used throughout the finale for Spock and the Jellyfish as attempts to get revenge on Vulcan’s destroyer.

Main Ostinato – This quick 6-note motif moves the action along when needed. Like the Main Theme, it too is introduced quietly over the opening logos in the film, however it does not appear again until the Cadets leave to go face the threat over Vulcan. It is then used frequently throughout the rest of the score, usually in action scenes involving multiple members of the crew.

Add to that another six minor themes that have been picked out:

Suspense Theme – Used twice in the score for scenes involved Starship captains flying towards The Narada to meet with its crew.

The Narada Theme – A 11-note secondary theme for Nero is used only twice in the film – first when Captain Robau takes a turbolift on his way to the shuttle that will take him to Nero’s ship, and a second time as the Narada opens fire on the Enterprise over Vulcan.

Sacrifice Theme – The same theme is played when George Kirk sacrifices himself to save The Kelvin and when it appears that Spock will sacrifice himself to destroy The Narada.

Unknown Theme – A brief theme heard as Bones smuggles Kirk on board the Enterprise reappears towards the end of the film during a conversation between Kirk and Sulu over the intercom.

Action Ostinato – Another ostinato is used in the score, but only for two major scenes. The first is when the shuttle with Kirk and Bones approaches The Enterprise and then The Enterprise enters warp; The second is when Kirk has to rescue Sulu from the Drill Platform when Sulu falls off, and Chekov races to rescue them both. It also appears in the End Credits.

B Theme – The Main Theme has an 8-note B section that is occasionally used before or after the Main theme, usually to amp up the action as it is always played in a fast-paced, exciting manner.

Finale Theme – This theme is introduced as Spock takes off in the Jellyfish, and is used throughout the next several cues until our heroes have completed their task and dispatched with Nero and The Narada.

So I’d say this is a pretty thematically strong score.

40. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

For more information about these themes, and the music composed, see this thread on jwfan:

41. Author of "The Vulcan Neck Pinch for Fathers" - September 8, 2010

40. …”Hardly detached or vacant.”

The exception proves the rule. The entire work was very much possessed of both of these characteristics, and the fact that one must stretch to identify this one piece to attempt a refutation of the argument does more to enhance the point than disprove it. Yes, that *one* piece was compelling. But that one piece does not an entire, cohesive movie score make.

Vacant descxribes the fact that there is no true resonating, overarching theme. It creeps close a few times, and fails. At worst, its a bunch of notes repeated (and repeated, and repated). I was never a Horner fan for his gross (and typically barely disguised) duplication, but his scores for Trek had more depth than that of ST09. That someone else struggled and ached to pick out eleven “sub themes” (or whatever it might be termed) is a monument to the score’s fractiousness.

To say it is “thematically strong” is monumentally generous.

As I said before, Giacchino is a fine composer, and has some other fine work to his credit. The work set before him for Trek was simply not suited to his style, and hence the two simply don’t work together. I truly wish another composer would be given a chance for the sequel.

Guess you and I will have to agree to disagree.

42. John in Canada, eh? - September 8, 2010

I was underwhelmed with the score on my first and second viewing of the film. “Restrained” was a word that came to mind. Third time out, I was surprised that I recognized the ‘theme’ at all. When I finally purchased the album, I was surprised again at how good it sounded.

I’d love to hear more hints at the original series classic motifs in the sequel.

(Had to post something on TOS’s anniversary!)

43. OneBuckFilms - September 8, 2010

41 – How many themes did Star Trek: TMP have? How about TWOK?

That someone else saw FIT to struggle an find the themes, shows that at least in his opinion, the score deserved such attention.

The score was different primarily because the movie was different.

Guess you’re right, we will agree to disagree on this one :)

44. DC - September 8, 2010

on the Vulcanian thing:

To be fair, Vulcans have been called Vulcanians before. I mean, the name is canon.

Source: Mudd’s Women

45. DC - September 8, 2010

RE: 44

My bad….I commented on the wrong article lol

46. James Heaney - Wowbagger - September 9, 2010

#6, #9: I noticed the same problem while actually watching the movie. The main theme repeated… and repeated and repeated and repeated. It became incredibly tedious on more than one occasion.

Then I got the soundtrack, and suddenly the problem was much less noticeable.

Then I got the *deluxe* soundtrack, and I haven’t complained about the main theme overuse since.

I don’t think M.G. did anything wrong in the score. I think he was ill-served by whoever was cut the music together into the movie. (Who was that? Ben Burtt?) Some of the best tracks on the soundtrack — particularly “Enterprising Young Men” — got processed into mincemeat on the movie soundtrack.

That was my impression, anyway. I definitely hear the problem you’re referring to. I just don’t think the problem was M.G.’s fault.

47. Joe Sidney - September 9, 2010

Was “Sabotage” JJ’s idea?

48. James Heaney - Wowbagger - September 9, 2010

Also: for the record, a few more hat tips in the next movie to Courage, Steiner, Goldsmith, and the gang would be MUCH APPRECIATED. I liked this score a great deal, but it felt very naked as a Star Trek movie without a little bit more of the grand inherited orchestral tapestry woven into it.

I did notice occasional hints and nods at Courage in this movie, but they were so short and out-of-place that you had to stop, go back, and listen again to be sure it was real. We need more than that. This is Star Trek. For better or for worse, it has musical motifs built into it

49. Shunnabunich - September 9, 2010

#17: True that. :) Hard to resist sometimes, but I know I should.

#32: I don’t know if a “mismatch in styles” accounts for his overuse of the main theme. He’s done some really great music for other films, and I think he could’ve done just as well for ST09 if he’d been driven to.

#36: I agree with that completely. Goldsmith’s Klingon theme, for instance, was awesome (I like to think it’s based on the simple two-note calls of hunting horns, smartly echoing the Klingons’ warlike nature), but I wouldn’t want to hear it recycled by another composer. I’d want him (or her) to aspire to something equally iconic, but appropriate to that movie.

#46: I’ll have to give that a listen sometime. I remember seeing Stealth (remember that?) once or twice, getting the score by BT, getting used to how that sounded, and then being surprised at how some of the cues were cut together in that movie when I saw it again.

50. Sebastian - September 9, 2010

M.G’s score for UP is sublime; one of my favorite recent soundtracks.
My wife and I always tear up at the ‘Ellie’s Failing Health’ music. And the balloon/house launch theme was simply gorgeous.
That Oscar was sooo well-deserved.
Can’t wait to hear what he cooks up for the next Trek movie…

I think there is a new James Horner on the block…. ; )

51. James - September 9, 2010

”37 – Goldsmith’s theme was simply not a part of TOS, which in spirit, this film is the origin for.

There is simply no way to introduce that theme in an appropriate way”

I did not say that, i said trek lore especially with regards to the movies

52. Jay - September 9, 2010

As mentioned by others the soundtrack was a generic action flick sound. The main theme just wasn’t good enough to be a trek theme, it also felt unfinished. If you nail the theme you can do so much with it.

ST09 score is no way near the best Goldsmith or Horner scores but I would say its equal to ST6 by Cliff Eidelman. So much so that you can you imagine that score in the ST09. I expected a bit better from MG, but I would definitely not have had any other composer do this film (including Horner, Elfman, Zimmer etc) MG is the new John Williams!

The worst thing about the score is that you’ve spent 2 hours of the film getting to know new characters, new ship, new pace etc. You’ve just erased Shatner, Takei, Koenig and all the TOS from your memory when all of a sudden at the end we hear Alexander Courage’s score full blast with choir. NOOOO!!!
There was just no need for that. No No No.
Courage’s score should be left on TV. All the other movies pay homage by usually using just the fanfare. The best use of it is at the end of ST3 where Courage’s whole theme is played in a few seconds.
Please don’t ever use Courage’s theme in full again, ever, ever.

53. Majicou - September 9, 2010

So the consensus is to have less repetition and to spend more time repeating things in future scores. You’ve got to love the Internet.

Anyway, I think the often elusive realization that opinions aren’t facts is key here. Not everybody is going to like any given score. I think ST 09’s score is great. The triumphal statement of the main theme at the Big E’s big reveal still gives me chills. The music underscoring the Kelvin’s destruction got me a bit choked up in the theater. Others don’t agree, and that’s the way of it.

I will say one thing, though, about repetition. Having seen the movie multiple times and listened to the first soundtrack album even more times, I’ve never noticed or even come close to noticing that this score repeats its thematic material more than any other score in a similar style (other Trek, Star Wars, LOTR, etc.) You do hear it a fair few times, but that’s how leitmotifs work. If you want to hear truly repetitive music, go find some Philip Glass or Steve Reich.

54. Jerry Modene - September 9, 2010

I like MG’s work – and I’m glad someone else out there liked the Speed Racer soundtrack – but I was disappointed by the Star Trek 09 soundtrack; I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I expected something better than what we got.

As for the Beastie Boys… ech. That and the other “rock” number (at the bar in Iowa) was simply pandering to the movie’s target demographic. I personally find it hard to believe that the Beastie Boys’ music will survive until the 23rd century; I’m surprised they’re still around early in the 21st.

55. Bucky - September 9, 2010

They wouldn’t have a classic radio station the god-knows how many channel radio universe 200 years from now?

56. Dr. Image - September 9, 2010

I guess I’m confused as to exactly what MG was going for. Homage to TOS? No.
Relating to past Trek films?
Godawful TNG era “scores”?
Thankfully not!
Something original? Perhaps. But I really expected to be blown away.
Again, I like it, but….. where’s the beef??
So- WAS he constrained in some way by the producers? Like past Trek composers were? We may never know.

57. OneBuckFilms - September 9, 2010

56 – He was after a score fitting the movie, with new themes and a new style in tune with the new direction of the franchise.

He scored the film, not everyone’s preconcieved ideas and expectations.

The homage to TOS, when the crew of the Enterprise had earned it’s place in history with Kirk on the Bridge, came from the TOS theme in the end credits.

58. CarlG - September 9, 2010

@52: What are you talking about “erasing”? Don’t be silly. That’s like saying you have to “erase” Basil Rathbone to watch Jeremy Brett playing Sherlock Holmes, or Sean Connery to watch Daniel Craig.

@55: 200 years from now, Beastie Boys might be considered classical. You never know… :)

59. Chris_of_ODU - September 9, 2010

#36… The composers of the previous 10 films quoted each other often enough in my book.

Horner used parts of both Courage’s and Goldsmith’s themes within his work. The beginning of his STII and STIII use the start of Goldsmith’s theme before segueing into his theme. He uses the basis of Goldsmith’s Klingon theme. Horner uses Courage’s theme during Stealing the Enterprise but he also uses the same ominous music played whenever V’ger appears in TMP, albeit very briefly.

Rosenman’s influences are apparent and I personally liked his take on the Star Trek theme in the closing scene, far more than the dull than the slightly tweaked Courage theme.

Eidelman ends the film with an arrangement of both Courage and Goldsmith’s theme starting with Courage, swelling to Goldsmith, and then finishing on Courage when the piece is over.

Poor Dennis McCarthy was forced for years to create music with non-descript themes (or so I’ve read) and Generation’s score is so unmemorable except for the excellent “Overture” that I can’t remember what all went into it.

I honestly can’t say how much influence the others had on Goldsmith’s, if any.

While I’d like for Giacchino to be his own man and come up with his own themes, if they’re going to use the TOS theme, then they may as well borrow from the rest. I’d rather see him adapt the original Klingon theme for a future film if he’s not going to use either Goldsmith or Horner’s take (though I’d be extremely disappointed). I just simply found the bulk of Giacchino’s work on this film to be about on par with Eidelman’s forgettable cues (besides perhaps the end theme) or Goldsmith’s boring scores for Insurrection and Nemesis.

60. OneBuckFilms - September 10, 2010

59… Horner used Courage’s pre-credit fanfare from TOS, and no theme of Goldsmith’s.

Don’t confuse the re-use of the Blaster Beam for Goldsmith’s Vejur theme.

Horner’s Klingon theme has the same basic idea as Goldsmith, but he took a different approach, using an Alpine Horn.

And again, Eidelman uses his own fanfare, and Courage’s theme. There is no Goldsmith there.

61. Disinvited - September 10, 2010


I’d probably be more inclined towards your interpretation if Horner hadn’t already borrowed so much from Goldsmith’s TMP in his BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS.

62. OneBuckFilms - September 10, 2010

61 – That he did, but more stylistically than specific themes.

The Malmouri music is very notable for this.

TWOK takes things further from Goldsmith than BBTS. But again, the fact is, no composer has actually used Goldsmith’s themes.

Horner used the Blaster Beam, but that’s really where the similarities end, and Horner used it almost as another base line/effects instrument, and not to represent something specific, such as the unknown Vegur as Goldsmith did.

Otherwise, the score to Meteor, for example, would have to have been grounds for a lawsuit from Paramount.

It’s the difference between the SOUND (instrumentation, playing style etc.) and the THEME (the actual melodies and harmonies).

63. Disinvited - September 10, 2010


I see your point although I’d like to point out that I recall the Blaster Beam was an instrument that could be played. Perhaps, one sound (note?) does not a theme make but Horner could have done other things with it. And I remember while watching BBTS – I think during a Valkerie attack scene -one theme most definitely seemed like a direct lift from TMP. It has been so long since seeing that in the theater that I can’t exactly recall. But it feels like it was something like the intensity build up to the Klingons’ dissolve.

64. Red Dead Ryan - September 10, 2010

“Enterprising Young Men” should be the main theme for the rest of the “J.J Abrams’ Star Trek” films. I would like to see more ORIGINAL scores for the sequel. I don’t want a rehashed/remixed/remade version of the “Amok Time” theme or anymore of the Alexander Courage fanfare, which in my opinion, should be retired.

65. OneBuckFilms - September 10, 2010

63 – It was actually pretty much in the background in Trek II, and again, what theme was quoted?

If you’re doing an old fashoined western, are you going to say another theme was quoted when the stereotypical indian war drums are used?

66. OneBuckFilms - September 10, 2010

64 – I agree for the most part, but I’d still like to hear occasional nods to TOS where appropriate.

I believe Kirk’s Theme is the JJ Era Trek Theme, and should be used appropriately in the sequels. Same for Spock’s theme, and maybe some of the others.

Melding a sampling of these themes with new themes for various situations etc. would be absolutely appropriate.

I don’t think we need the TOS theme played in full again, but maybe the fanfare could be used for defining, iconic moments that speak directly to Star Trek TOS or Star Trek as a whole.

Of course, it all depends on the next movie, and what it requires. That, more than anything, dictates what the next score will be.

67. Red Dead Ryan - September 10, 2010


I just don’t want a classic musical piece rammed into a scene just to make it seem more epic. That was the problem with the music from the “Star Wars” prequels. The music from the classic trilogy meshed well with characters, i.e “The Imperial March” which was Darth Vader’s theme. When they played it at the end of “Attack Of The Clones”, it made no sense because a) the movie took place before Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader and b) the movie took place in a republic, before the creation of the Empire. Also, “Duel Of The Fates” is pretty much Darth Maul’s theme. While it did make sense to use it during the Yoda–Emperor Palpatine fight, it didn’t in “Attack Of The Clones”. I wished that John Williams came up with different themes for those scenes.

Not only that, but the “Revenge Of The Sith” soundtrack was composed mainly of stuff we have heard before.

I don’t mind musical pieces being re-used once in awhile, but I think that one can overuse and wear out themes pretty quuickly. Also, reusing themes over and over makes it clear to the audience that the composers/directors have run out of ideas. I think Micheal Giaccino should just focus on making a great soundtrack for the sequel and not worry too much about trying to remain too faithful to “The Original Series” music.

This is a new universe that J.J Abrams created; its only fitting that there should be new music to identify it and set it apart from what came before while still sounding like Star Trek. What I’d like is “new and fresh sounding Star Trek” as opposed to “old, stale, and recycled Star Trek”.

That’s why I liked “Enterprising Young Men” so much. It was new. It was fresh. It was something we had not had in a long time.

68. OneBuckFilms - September 10, 2010

67 – I think we agree here. Score the film, not the lore :)

69. Disinvited - September 10, 2010


Sorry, I was still going on a BBTS tangent there.

WRT STII, I would say that I agree not so much a borrowing from TMP but the almost patented Horner borrowing from his previous stuff, i.e. original themes worked out in BBTS which I remember thinking back when I heard it in the theater that he was borrowing definitely stylistically and some themes (definitely not more than a few) from TMP. Unfortunately, its been so long I’m not sure I could dig out from memory and I don’t know that I’d want to bother with BBTS again to try to regain that sense of it?

Instead I will say that I’ve found Horner to be a definitely talented composer who I’ve found frustrating in that he can deliver the goods but far too any times he seems to not be able to keep his creative intensity up for more projects than I’d wish and then appears to resort to recycling by lifting from previous works of his and others. Not that what he does is by any means unusual, just for my tastes when he goes down that road he doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough.

ST II definitely is NOT one of those instances and yet, without resorting to them he can’t quite totally abandon reminding me of all hints of this tendency even as he’s hitting it out of the park – if you catch my drift.

70. TBW - September 10, 2010

For my money, the best opening/closing theme is First Contact, because it’s almost counterintuitive (Goldsmith said he wanted it to sound pastoral), and it feels full of optimism in a dark (but, by the end rather optimistic film itself). That said, I loved the new score. Wasn’t my favorite, but when “Star Trek” played over the studio logos, I knew what kind of movie I was in.

And, 41, it’s actually the exception that “probes” the rule. (Or, at least, that’s the original phrase).

71. TBW - September 10, 2010

Unless, of course, you mean “prove” as in “test.”

72. Vultan - September 10, 2010


Red Dead Ryan, I agree with most of your points (especially about MG coming up with his own material), however I disagree about the misuse of the Imperial March being used at the end of AOTC. Yes, it was still the Republic, but the clone army was essentially the Empire in the making—hence Yoda’s disagreeing with Obi-Wan about it being a victory. He knew (like the audience) that there was pretty much no going back at that point. Thus, Williams lightly dropping the Imperial March into the soundtrack (hinting at the rise of empire and fascism) was appropriate.

But that’s just my two centavos… :)

73. Vultan - September 10, 2010

Oops, that should be— “however I disagree about the misuse of the Imperial March at the end of AOTC.”

74. OneBuckFilms - September 10, 2010

69 – Since Horner did not lift any music from TMP, and that the Blaster Beam was used very differently, it is extremely obvious that Star Trek composers have not borrowed specific themes from each other, and that within a movie series, the use of similar musical ideas in not only valid, but can be expected.

Horner borrowed, in terms of musical ideas, from TMP in BBTS, but TWOK actually did not borrow as much as your argument about “composers borrowing from each other all the time” would require to hold up.

Your assertion that Horner used Goldsmith’s themes, or that ANY Star Trek composer used another Star Trek composer’s themes (within the movies), is completely false.

Michael Giacchino was correct when he said that the only constant musical motif for the entirety of Star Trek is Alexander Courage’s original theme, opening fanfare, and the 3-note opening.

Goldsmith didn’t quote Horner, Horner didn’t quote Goldsmith, Eidelman only used TOS and his own material. Giacchino did exactly the same, and in a way that was appropriate (saving the TOS theme for the symbolic emergence of the TOS crew, and the Star Trek we all know).

Casino Royale, being an origin story, did the same thing with Monty Norman’s James Bond theme.

75. Basement Blogger - September 10, 2010

Thanks, TrekMovie, Jeff Bond and Michael Giacchino for your insight into the creative process of the Star Trek ’09 score. When I heard the main theme for Trek ’09, I was confused because it was dour. Now I get it after he went over the creative process. The fascinating thing about the score is that Michael says the Spock theme was a candidate for the main theme. That theme would have my vote as the main theme. Try thinking of that theme at the begining of the movie orchestrated by a french horn. Then try imagining that theme as Kirk first sees the Enterprise in space, only instead of a Chinese string intstrument, with a big orchestra arrangement and slower.

On his Oscar winning score for “Up” there was as discussion about the five minute montage with music only. First, it was absolutely brilliant. I saw this film in a theater with a lot of children. No one was bored. We all cried. Second, this just shows that the modern movie audience is smarter than many in Hollywood would think. No explosions in the begining of the film. No need to pound the audience with “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra” action scenes. if you have not seen “Up” rent it or buy it now. Giacchino’s score is astounding. His music for “Up” is your emotional companion for the film. Also check out his score for “Ratatouille.” He musically gets Paris. I have a copy of that soundtrack. Love the jazz trio with that cool French jazz sound.

76. Vultan - September 10, 2010


Oh, and don’t forget his incredible music in The Incredibles—one of the few films to out-Bond the James Bond franchise—and an animated film at that!

77. Scott McCulloch - September 12, 2010

A great interview, thanks for posting.

Michael Giacchino’s score served the film very well and I’d persoanlly like to see the main theme and Spocks theme feature strongly in the next movie. I particularly liked the Main Title (playing over the Starfeet emblem)and I’d like to see that become a signature for this new movie series (think the 007 gunbarrel or Star Wars opening crawl). I’d also like to see his take on some of the classic themes from the original series such as “Amok Time”, “Mirror Mirror” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of”.

In summary, Michael’s score was for me the most I’ve played a soundtrack album in easily 10 years.

78. CarlG - September 12, 2010

@77: Great choices! I’d just want to add “Friday’s Child” — absolutely kickass score that desperately needs to be released by SOMEBODY. :)

@59: If MG does reuse a previous Klingon theme, I hope it’s the Horner version — since they’d still be antagonists in the next movie, Goldsmith’s theme would be badass but way too heroic. Horner’s is nice and mean-sounding.

79. Disinvited - September 12, 2010


I think you are confusing me with some other commenter that went down that line with regards to the Trek films.

I was only commenting on Horner’s tendencies on other projects outside of his Trek work.

If pressed, you might get me to say that I feel his STIII score felt like a lot of STII recycling but that would only make sense as it became the second chapter of essentially the same (continuing) narrative.

I agree there’s not a lot of borrowing in Trek movie scores.

However, I will note Giacchino is extremely talented and what he tries to do in 2009 is interesting but the ultimate result seems mostly serviceable and gets the job done but somehow not as inspired as his other works or the works of the other Trek Composers. This is by no means anyway to say that it is “bad”. Just that he’s done better. It’s probably not in any way his fault (If one can somehow call delivering a good score “faulty” which I wouldn’t.) – I get a strong sense that the ultimate cut of the film that made it to the theaters was not the one that he scored for and somehow in arriving at it Abrams managed to not have any time (or money?) left to give Giacchino to mate the final product properly. Everything fits but it feels like it needed one more coat of paint – which is odd because usually such things happen because a project runs out of time but that seems to have been the one thing with which Paramount gave the production a reprieve?

If I were a betting man, I’d bet that Paramount wanted the CGI polished to the exclusion of all else in the extended time frame.

80. Basement Blogger - September 18, 2010

I was watching “Ratatouille” again and Michael’s soundtrack is just wonderful. It’s another film that you must watch or rent. And if you are a jazz musician looking for another song for your set, might I suggest Michael’s “Le Festin” from the movie. Here’s the soundtrack version sung by French singer Camille. Passionate. Gorgeous.

81. OneBuckFilms - September 19, 2010

79 – I see where you’re coming from.

There was a fair amount of editing of the score in the film, and the score was likely completed musically before the extended post production came about.

Listening to the Deluxe Edition, it is clear that the film was edited differently to what we finally saw.

I think Michael Giacchino had the right amount of time to create and record the score.

Paramount allowed more time because their perception of the movie changed once they saw the results Abrams was getting, and saw the movie as a good bet for a summer release.

It was Bad Robot and Abrams who then tweaked the movie, and I suspect this was mostly editorial, and maybe some FX tweaks and additions.

82. Disinvited - September 20, 2010


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