Watch: Michael Giacchino Talks Composing For Movies – Including Star Trek

One of the highlights of the 2009 Star Trek movie (and hopefully the 2013 sequel Into Darkness) is the music of Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino. The composer is the subject of a new video interview where he discusses his various projects, including Star Trek. Watch it below to get to know Trek’s composer.


Watch Michael Giacchino Talk About Composing For Movies

The following video interview was made by Soundworks Collection. The video has composer Michael Giacchino give a history of how he got involved with scoring movie soundtracks and leading him to his collaborations with JJ Abrams, Pixar and more.

SoundWorks Collection: Composer Michael Giacchino from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


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Despite what other might think. I feel that the in depth views into the movie are worth watching, and the music definitely is part of what is great about Star Trek.

Music is definitely crucial to a TV show or film. It can add an entire layer of nuance that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

Just ask Rick Berman. He loved music. LOL

I really like his work. I have to say I LOVE his music on Fringe. Best tv show music out there today by far.

Nods to Amok Time and other TOS music, please :D

Awesome, great clip. Interesting to see how he come to scoring a movie, and the early steps in his career that made that possible.

This one, for example, would be fantastic in the movie ;D
“Thematic Bridge*/Blackship Tension M21/M21A 2:19”
(From the La La Land website)

Love his music.

I want the trailer music.

Considering how much I enjoyed Giacchino’s scores for UP and RATATOUILLE it was a real surprise how his work for Trek 2009 ended up being just one more element of the film that didn’t work for me. For the most part I found the music surprisingly predictable and heavy-handed (we needn’t waste any time figuring out that the Narada and Nero are bad news–the music has that thoroughly covered); his main theme was monotonous and grating, and the insertion of Alexander Courage’s fanfare at the movie’s conclusion clumsy and patronizing. (Admittedly, Jerry Goldsmith didn’t do much better with Courage’s theme in 1979, though overall it’s a small moment in an infinitely better score). But the music in the preview for INTO DARKNESS set in future London was much more offbeat and interesting, and I hope it presages a return to form for a very talented composer.

He’s awesome! Now I know how to pronounce Giacchino.

He is my favorite active composer by far.

#5 agreed — but also agree to what Giacchino said about scoring the ’09 TREK. Certain musical cues have been used to the point of satire. Sure, we could (and should) take them back.

Again, as always, I point to Giacchino’s work on SPEED RACER, which by any measure is a fantastic score. He seamlessly weaves new themes in with classic cues and themes from the original cartoon series. (Ditto his “ROAR! (End Credits from CLOVERFIELD)” which is a love letter to the kaiju music of the 50s/60s.)

I would trust no one else with carrying the torch that is STAR TREK when it comes to music. The “Enterprising Young Men” theme is as much the TREK theme for this crew as our iconic Alexander Courage theme was for TOS.

Giacchino’s score for “UP” is one of my favorite soundtracks of ALL time; I bought the soundtrack from i-tunes and burned it onto CD to play it on my car’s old stereo system.

UP’s music ranks right up there with “Star Wars” “JAWS” and “ST-TMP.” Track 3 still makes me tear up every time I hear it. Just want to hold my wife a bit closer every time I do… :-(

Good interview, I have enjoyed most of his sound track work. I also thought ST ’09 wasn’t up to his normal level of work (“Labor of Love” and “Enterprising Young Men” are the stand outs), so I look forward to hear what he’s done with Into Darkness.

Love Giacchino’s work, in particular LOST and The Incredibles. I like his Trek ’09 music but agree it probably isn’t his best. Based on the STID prologue score it looks like he’s bringing his A-game to the sequel.

@10: Thank you, Michael! I, too, really love a lot of the other scores he’s done, many of which contain truly fitting and memorable themes. So it’s really disappointing and bewildering that not only did he phone in such a trite four bars for Star Trek, but that it got green-lit anyway. (Mind you, even in ST09’s score there’s the odd gem.)

@ Agreed, although it’s worth noting that the main “Enterprise crew” theme remains the same in that preview. Ironically, it’s that theme I liked the least about his score. It just didn’t seem “Trek” like enough for me. All the other movies, save for maybe TVH, have had very orchestral, classical main themes. I felt this one, in contrast, was a bit too modern and bombastic for my liking.

But, I agree, I think he is more than capable of creating very accomplished scores, so finger’s crossed.

^ That was meant for @10

Aww they didn’t play any of the Medal of Honor themes… THAT was some great composing there.

I just can’t agree with the criticisms of the Trek 09 score. It was immediately recognizable as Star Trek to me, and a nice shift from Goldsmith’s later themes which got very derivative and boring. Really, Goldsmith’s last great Trek score was for Trek V, which is too bad as it was deserving of a better movie.

Nice. Always happy to see someone who so obviously enjoys their work. And I think the Trek (2009) score was great. It wasn’t as majestic as Goldsmith’s for ST:TMP, but it was serving a different purpose. (2009) was more of a heroic, wartime score.

’Enterprising Young Men’ is BEAUTIFUL.

@4. Wasn’t JJ the one who composed the music for Fringe? Well, the one in the opening credits anyway.

Yes, I think that JJ Abrams wrote the Fringe theme music, but Michael Giacchino writes all the background music for the episodes.

Star Trek 09 theme has as a distinctive a sound to it as other music. I immediately recognized the last bars of music played at the end of the video as being the Star Trek theme. Other film music is not quite as recognizable or distinctive.

As far as TV series music goes, I think that the themes to the original Mission Impossible and Hawaii-Five-O series are the best, with Star Trek coming a close third.

Yes, I am also glad I now know how to pronounce Giacchino correctly. I had been *saying* it wrong…:(

#24 – Thank you for sharing that video with us. Outstanding!

I STILL have the new intro music going through my head and I saw the 9 minute trailer over 4 days ago. Hope the rest of the soundtrack is as good. Excellent job so far!

His score and Dr. McCoy were the only things good about the movie.

Though, his score of John Carter has to be his all time best.

Great composer.

#4,23, 25 – After the first and second seasons of Fringe Michael handed the reigns to composer Chris Tilton who also acted as composer along side Michael in those first seasons. And yes, as with Lost, JJ created the title theme for Fringe. What I have always loved about Giacchino’s scores is their ability to reach into you and connect you with the film or show in a way that is rarely found on such a profound level. He is truly one of the greats and I look forward to his continued collaboration with team Abrams for many more terrific films and shows.

Michael Giacchino’s “Star Trek” score is very good. However, his music to “Lost”, “Up”, “Ratatouille”, and especially “John Carter” are better.

In fact, “John Carter” is my favorite of Giaccino’s scores. Simply beautiful.

#20 – I have to disagree about TFF being Goldsmith’s peak for Trek scores – the main title used throughout First Contact was breathtaking for me. Just beautiful. And the build up to the actual first contact – amazing music.

Also – love Giacchino’s Trek ’09 and can’t wait to hear what he’s cooking up for the new film!

I really like Giacchino’s score from Trek ’09, and Goldsmith’s work deserves all of the praise it gets. I’d love to see/hear James Horner do another Trek score. His Wrath of Khan score is outstanding. As a French horn player, one of my dreams is to play the TWOK score (though I’ll have to build my chops up for it).

Cool! Gotta admit: Michael Giachinno is indeed among the two composers associated with both the CBS-owned “Star Trek” and the Lucasflim-owned–or dare I say Disney-owned–“Star Wars,” along with Kevin Kiner.

I love MG score to 2009’s Star Trek! The one thing I agree on is that his main theme is too short, but there is actually a secondary melody which is presented various ways throughout the score, which is longer and more complex. The music for the end credits sequence (starting with the original TOS theme and incorporating the film’s original themes) is absolutely brilliant, and reminds me of the classic John Williams end credits of his great late ’70/ early ’80’s scores (which also served almost as medleys for the entire score).

I’ll have to go with TMP as being my favorite Goldsmith Trek score; I know it’s the popular answer, but it’s the one in my library that gets the most playback, especially with the La-La Land extended release.

BTW, pricey though it is, the new La-La Land TOS Soundtrack Collection project is phenomenal. Arguable as to the cost, I know, but it’s a hell of a lot of music (three seasons / 15 discs total), all lovingly cared for, with a set of booklets that make it worlds better (though I’d like the option to get the booklet as a perfect-bind, full-sized magazine kind of thing or even an eBook).

BTW re/my post with the piano solo (per se) version of “Enterprising Young Men”; there’s a lot of fan vids on YouTube like that (just picked up an excellent rendition of “Life” from the PROMETHEUS score; also a great buy). Seek and ye shall find.

Giacchino is a brilliant composer, I love most everything he has done. He nails the full spectrum of emotions displayed within the movies he’s worked on through the music he has created, everytime.

I can’t imagine the new Trek without him now- Though I like the majority of the film’s music, I don’t know what could have possibly replaced Enterprising Young Men or That New Car Smell, two great tracks!

I too enjoyed his work on Lost, UP and John Carter.

great interview. thanks for posting!

Just think what TNG,DS9,Voyager and Enterprise would have been like if Michael Giachino had written all of the music for those shows.

Found this on YouTube:

Obviously a fake and synthesized, but the arrangement of the main theme at the beginning is one of the best I’ve ever heard..! (The fact that fakes like these exist is a good thing I guess… Beter that than no interest at all!)

@38 I think Chattaway and McCartney could have written a lot more impressive music had Rick Berman not constrained them so much… So MG would have had to deal with that too. If only Berman would have truely understood the power of scoring, instead of wanting ‘sonic soundpads’… Still, I’ve become quite fond of that (albeit limited) musical palette though.


YEs berman might have toned the music down but McCarthy and Chattaway still did great scores for those later seasons. Darmok is brilliant.

Gianchino is good but his music is not a good as Goldsmith or Horner for me

Start Trek 09 = good
Super 8 = bad
I really like Michael Giacchino, but I’ve noticed he goes back to the same styles and everyman starts to sound like Lost (which was brilliant but you have to mix it up).

doh.. everything

The music as Kirk’s dad stayed behind on the Kelvin was lovely — and really reminded me of Lost, but whatever.

I’m merely one fan, but I hope they mix things up for the next one — and keep previous non-Giacchino movie scores in those other movies. I love ‘enterprising young men’ …and it was great to hear it during the underwater reveal of the Enterprise. But I’m hoping this score has a little variety, like Empire compared to Star Wars.

BTW, how was the inclusion of Courage’s theme patronizing? I loved the way those opening notes were tied into Giacchino’s Trek theme, Although, I’m hoping they don’t include the whole TOS theme again.

Man, I watched Encounter at Farpoint again the other day… and the way they used the Goldsmith theme during the incredibly long saucer sep./reattachment just made boring scenes even more tedious.

Fave scores: Trek 09, TWOK, TMP (Illia’s theme was lovely, but a bit overwrought for the characters), First Contact, Undiscovered Country. And, I have to say, it bugged me that Goldsmith used the same final theme for V and all the films he scored after.

Trek III probably did the best integration of the TOS themes, although Undiscovered Country did a great job too (just those few notes near the end were beautiful)


I’m pretty meh on the First Contact score. It features yet another rework of TMP theme, which by that time was old hat. I just don’t think he was doing his best work at that point. I would have much rather had Ron Jones come back, as his TNG scores really helped define the Borg.

45. I too loved that FC opening theme.

It was fun to hear bits of the TMP theme and of the klingon theme — but, yeah, too much if it felt like reworking of the same stuff.

The Shatner free-climbing (!) theme of Trek V was lovely. The rest was pretty standard, I’d thought.

And I’d loved TWOK for years — but to me most of Horner’s scores sound the same now. When I hear TWOK now, I hear Aliens, Avatar and Titanic. ;).

Giacchino’s Incredibles score is fantastic, a terrific homage to John Barry and the whole swinging 60s vibe.

If that’s all he could do, he’d still be more interesting than Danny Elfman is today. But he has a lot of colours in his paintbox. The ST09 score has nothing of that camp vibe at all — although I wonder if a snippet of the infamous “fighting on Triskelion” theme might not be amiss at some point.


Oh, Horner’s reuse and recycling of his own work is pretty legendary at this point. I really think the poor guy peaked with TWOK/TSFS and just hasn’t been able to come up with anything terribly interesting since.

RE: Trek V – I love the ‘Angry God’ theme and the planet-based stuff. I agree the reuse of the Main Theme was a bit boring, but since we’d had 3 movies and almost a decade without it, it didn’t hit me as being as repetitive as its later uses.

“The Shatner free-climbing (!) theme of Trek V was lovely.”

I adore that whole scene. Music was beautiful and visually gorgeous as well. If only the movie had more high points…oh well…still empathized with Sybok though, even if he was a pain in the neck.


See, Sybok never struck me as being particularly sympathetic. If he’d been fighting for other Vulcans who wanted freedom of expression and to be able to embrace their emotional side, I think i could have mustered some empathy for him. As it stands, he just wanted to talk to God and decided to drag everyone else along for the ride.