[Updated!] Star Trek (2009) Soundtrack: Analysis

Listening to each track and writing down impressions and adjectives. Stress relief from LA portfolio.

Firefox crashed, bringing my 400 words worth of additional comments with it. Damn.

1. Star Trek

I like the intro – grand, breathtaking. The layering builds up the anticipation. I hear the everything smashing into each frenetic kind of ending quite a lot in soundtracks though.

2. Nailin’ the Kelvin

Woah! Action from the very beginning. Lots of repetition, which works well for chaotic theme(s) I guess. The main theme slowly fades out. Kind of poignant…it’s like seeing the Kelvin die all over again.

3. Labor of Love

Actually I don’t have much to say about this track. It sounds quite normal, with the horn or whatever that is giving it a kind of massive, heavy feel (not sure which part of the movie this is, but I think it’s the bit when we first see the Enterprise, which explains the ‘massiveness’ then)

4. Hella Bar Talk

Ah, the main theme again, this time with more pronounced accompaniment. Excitement builds up with what sounds like small hand-beaten drums (I have got to start learning instrument names again), but nothing overly special.

5. Enterprising Young Men

Tension from the pizzicato (?)  in the front. Rolling drums, theme in all its glory…and then a slight variation of the theme. There’s something constantly floating in the background that I can’t quite identify… 66 high1 66 high1 6 3 in solfege. It doesn’t quite sound like Nero’s theme.

6. Nero Sighted

Dun dun dun! No, really, that’s what’s in the accompaniment. Discordance happens. It’s a bad guy track, so that’s quite expected. First major introduction of Nero’s theme.

What I like is the little touch of what sounds like metallic things being hit in the background – it alludes to how the Narada is actually a mining vessel.

7. Nice to Meld You

What sounds to me like the “Bad Guy/Mysterious” theme (I may be wrong – just venturing wild guesses here) is very prominent in this track. I think this is perhaps the coolest, as in “damn that was wicked” track in the entire album. It sounds really otherworldly, prolly cause of the dissonance.

8. Run and Shoot Offense

This is very obviously an action scene track. Then again, almost all of Star Trek is action scenes so that doesn’t explain much. Once again, we have layering in the intro. And then it resets itself and the layering begins again.

9. Does it Still McFly

I like the pulsating of the harp. It’s got this very…I don’t know – something like “the status light next to the controls pulsated gently” feel. It’s a good interlude before the action starts back up again, built up by I think every section of the orchestra. Then it just falters with this dying-breath kind of low note and ends.

10. Nero Death Experience

Cue apocalyptic chorus. At least this one is a bit more original. Instead of just chanting fake Latin or Romulan or whatever it is, the choir supports the orchestral music (as in the chorus and orchestra are integrated, instead of a layer of apocalyptic chanting plus a layer of orchestra) at points.

Why does every single vaguely dramatic event have to be scored together with an apocalyptic chorus nowadays? It’s kind of annoying. Next thing you know we’ll have fake Latin chanting and rousing strings in the background every time any character moves his/her/its arms.

11. Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns

The beginning continues nicely from the previous track. A bit of Star Trek theme, then some freaky-sounding, atonal clashing stuff. Overall sounds quite dramatic.

12. Back from Black

It’s filler, but it’s great-sounding filler.

13. That New Car Smell

I love how the erhu, instead of the overused solo violin, plays the Vulcan/Spock theme. Slow, sad-sounding, reflective. We have the pulsating harp again, but it’s far more serene this time, and sounds more like ripples on water instead of flashing lights. It’s all very Vulcan and up till this point, until a gentler Star Trek theme enters (builds up very gradually thanks to the brass and woodwind sections). It’s majestic, but it fades away quickly, before coming back for a few seconds (there are quite a lot of rousing/calm contrasts in the last third). Also, cute woodwind accents near the end.

Overall, this is the sentimental track in an otherwise action-packed album.

14. To Boldly Go

Well, I think this is just filler again…it’s linked with Track 15, by the way. This is played in the background when Leonard Nimoy does the “to boldly go where no man one has gone before” voiceover.

15. End Credits

I wrote so much about this track! Almost all of my 400 words went here. Now I’ll have to salvage what I can from the murky depths of my mind.

I enjoyed the opening of this track! It’s the original Star Trek theme, by the way. So happy and full of promise, changing to a minor briefly, before going back. It’s almost like the whole “good guys win in the end” trope has been summarized in 60 seconds of music, but in a good way. The song then switches back to the “Star Trek” theme.

I think the only thing I didn’t particularly like was how the music was split up with obvious breaks and pauses. Perhaps it was because the styles wouldn’t match that well (especially from the above to Spock’s theme, below).

Next, Spock’s theme comes back in. The erhu plays for about 30 seconds backed by the other strings, before being replaced by the usual orchestral strings. His theme sounds bolder, more heroic.

The ending half-minute or so sounds like it came directly out of The Next Generation’s introduction sequence. The  xylophone(?) at the start reminds me of stars twinkling. I like it.

Favorite Themes: “Star Trek”, Spock’s theme.

I think out of all the themes, “Star Trek” sounds the most majestic and embodies the idea of adventure as well as the entire movie best (naturally – it’s the title theme…). Unlike the opening of “End Credits”, it’s not ridiculously happy and naive, but it manages to carry off the same hopeful vibe brilliantly.

Of course, it’s pretty much impossible not to hear this theme. It crops up everywhere – literally! –  in the soundtrack. s the main focus, in the background, scattered notes here and there…the list goes on. Though, to give the composer credit, it appears in lots of different variations, so you don’t get too bored with the theme.

Spock’s theme…well, it’s Spock. At any rate, the erhu makes it stand out, and after a while you wish there was more of it to offer some respite to the wham-bam action of the rest of the soundtrack.

Favorite Tracks: 5. Enterprising Young Men, 13-15. That New Car Smell, To Boldly Go, End Credits


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