Although the new CGI effects get most of the attention for Trek Remastered, CBS also gave the show’s opening music new life. The classic theme written by Alexander Courage was re-recorded in digital stereo and most agree that it is pitch perfect. That is thanks to the people involved, starting with the man tasked with the job Greg Smith. Smith is a Trek music veteran who began working on Trek back in the early 90s . He worked on DS9, VOY and ENT as an orchestrator for composer Jay Chattaway and even composed a few episodes himself. "I tried to remember how many Trek music sessions I worked on and I lost count," Smith tells TrekMovie. Star Trek up until Enterprise was one of the few shows that still used full orchestral scores. "For music, Trek always had the highest production values," says Smith, and Trek Remastered wasn’t going to be the exception.
Showing their respects
From the outset of the project CBS and Smith were determined to emulate the original sound. This started with a trip to the Paramount archives to get the original score and arrangements from the recordings in the 60s. Smith then sat down and tweaked the arrangements based on closely listening to the original recordings. "We wanted to emulate the recordings as much as possible, because they were sacred" says Smith. He was so determined to honor the past that he initially tried to find some of the original musicians from 40 years ago, but unfortunately they weren’t unavailable. In the end Smith put together around 20 musicians, most of whom were ‘Trek regulars’ and had worked on more recent Trek shows. Because they were determined to match the originals so closely, they created three different versions of the theme, one for each season. The biggest difference is the inclusion of the soprano singer for 2nd and 3rd seasons, but the team endeavored to emulate the smaller differences between the seasons as well. For example the 3rd season version emphasises organ in the mix, which ends up effecting the the ‘vibrato’ of the soprano. Smith also gives us a hint of things to come, revealing that they have also made a 5.1 mix of the themes. "Wait until you hear the new ship flyby sound effect in 5.1" Smith says enthusiastically "you feel like you have to duck as it flies past you." Alas, Trekkies will have to wait until the eventual DVD release to experience it, but we are sure Alex Courage would be proud.
Looked for a soprano, found a Trekkie
One of the most important things Smith had to do is find the perfect voice for the 2nd and 3rd season versions of the theme. Apparently one name comes up when you are looking for a ‘high floaty soprano’: Elin Carlson. "What I didn’t know when I called her was that she was a huge Trekkie," says Smith. A Trekkie indeed, Carlson has been a huge fan since childhood, telling TrekMovie "I even made my own tribbles." Carlson has been a professional working singer whose voice can be heard anywhere from Epson commercials to Superman Returns to Mars Attacks. Even though she has had a long and successful career, Elin thought of this opportunity as fateful "It was my destiny to do this…I was born to sing the theme to Star Trek." After getting hired Carlson immediately began to prepare, but one could say she has been preparing all her life "I have seen every episode of every Star Trek show at least once…I know that music," says Carlson. To prepare she began carefully studying the work of the original singer Loulie Jean Norman Price whose work Carlson was closely familiar with. Greg Smith was impressed, telling TrekMovie "she was incredibly prepared and got every take perfect…over and over again." Carlson was totally on board for sticking with the past "we were there to honor the originals…just make them sound better." She is so taken with her new role as ‘the Trek Soprano’ that she is adding the theme to her regular recitals. Elin’s ‘debut performance’ is this weekend with the airing of ‘I’Mudd’, the first of 2nd season episodes for Trek Remastered.
2nd season Theme: MP3
see Smith, Carlson and all the new musicians at work…
Elin Carlson’s website