Wednesday, June 15, 2016

TRON: Legacy (Daft Punk, 2010)


     The 2010 film "TRON: Legacy" (a follow up to 1982's sci-fi film "TRON") was scored by the French synth-rock duo comprising Daft Punk.  This was their first film scoring assignment (as a duo), and they worked closely with arranger/orchestrator Joseph Trapanese to produce a thematically fitting soundtrack to the ultra-sleek/ultra-futuristic film visuals.  The success of Daft Punk and Trapanese's 2-year collaboration is borne out by an unusually-organic synth-acoustic score, with the electronics and orchestral forces balancing each other out extremely well.  The concept of a dialogue between electronic and acoustic instruments in the score may be comparable to the on-screen relationships between the human protagonists and the artificial intelligences who help or hinder them.


     It's almost pointless to describe the film if one hasn't already seen it, but basically it involves Sam Flynn's search for his lost father, Kevin Flynn, in a digital cyber-reality where different laws of physics apply.  The cyber-reality (the "Grid") is ruled by Clu, an AI assistant gone rogue.  After fighting Clu in a gladiatorial arena, Sam manages to find his way to his father outside of town.  Ultimately Sam, his father and a potential love interest, Quorra, fight their way back into the city, and then back out to the exit portal, stopping Clu and his invasion plans in the process.


     One of the best choices Daft Punk made for this score was to create distinctive themes and motifs for the film's characters and locales.  In many modern electronic scores, consistency in melodic or harmonic material isn't always a priority.  The main themes created for Tron Legacy include:
  • Tron theme: rising figure and then gradually winding downwards, resolving.
  • Sam theme: layers of rising accents, really only used in the "real world".
  • Recognizer theme: rising staccato ostinato falling at the end.
  • Arena theme: 7-note wave-shaped figure.
  • Clu theme: downward-winding 4-note staccato figure, often subdivided into doubled accents, and sometimes accompanied with falling synth pulses.
  • Outlands theme: Fateful, multi-layered theme with an almost classical development (Outlands, Outlands Pt II, Sea of Simulation).
  • Sunrise theme: Optimistic, hopeful theme (Sunrise, Finale).
     There are also several passing motifs which appear more as subtle ornamentation or act as a rhythmic ostinatos for other more foreground elements.  These include:
  • Gem motif: 3-note high falling figure 
  • Fall motif/rhythm: Irregular,syncopated rhythmic accents
  • Teamwork motif: Falling ostinato figure
     The score for Tron Legacy exists in an official soundtrack, but many additional cues are found on a 5-track special edition package as well as on vendor exclusives (Amazon, Nokia, iTunes).  The album was also released on vinyl with some bonus tracks.  The table below lists all of the officially-released tracks in chronological film order.
Trk Dur Title Film Sequence/Music themes
1 2:28 Overture0:00: (Unused in film)
Low drone, Tron theme slowly surfaces in horns over strings, developed in synth/strings/brass/timpani.
2 1:37 The Grid 0:00: (With Flynn voice-over) Lines move across the screen and form an overhead view of city traffic.  Main Title.  Zoom to Sam's bedroom with Flynn telling the story of Tron.
Drones, synth bass pulses, Recognizer ostinato variation in strings, Tron theme in synth/electronic percussion joined by strings.
3 1:35 The Son of Flynn 0:00: Sam races through the city on his motorcycle and is pursued by police.  He loses them and parks near Encom Tower.
Rising staccato electronic pulses (Sam theme) joined by bass pulses, joined by muted horns, ending in bass pulses/held strings.
SE 1 3:53 ENCOM Part I 0:00: Sam breaks in to the building, entering through a big door.  An Encom board meeting begins.  Sam sneaks in to the building as the Encom presenter talks about a new software release.
Rising string accent figures (Recognizer ostinato variation) intercut with suspenseful pauses, joined by swelling strings.  
1:42: Sam reaches the server farm floor and breaks in, but his entry is detected.  Sam hacks a server as the security guard approaches.
Low bass pulses/percussion/held strings/swelling brass, accent chord leading to string ostinato and Tron brass fragment, string/brass transition leads back to synth pulses/brass swells, joined by string ostinato, ending string/brass swell.
SE 2 2:18 ENCOM Part II 0:00: Sam stands on a gantry ledge atop the Encom building as the guard approaches.  
Rising staccato Sam theme on low pulsing synth figures/strings, joined by rhythmic strings.
1:16: Sam jumps and para-sails away.  He lands on a cab and runs towards his bike.
Sam theme developed with more rhythmic string layers/synth, swelling with noble brass/timpani.
4 2:38 Recognizer 0:00: Sam runs outside the arcade and encounters a Recognizer.  He is captured and the Recognizer takes off towards the arena.  
Recognizer ostinato in low strings/low bass synth pulses with low brass accents, joined and then overtaken by violins with Tron harmony in brass harmony background.
1:47: The Recognizer approaches the arena, lands and is greeted by guards.
Tron theme variation joins in high synth/brass/strings.
5 2:03 Armory 0:00: Sam is outfitted for the games by four Sirens.  He also gets an identity disc.
Synth rhythm with bass accent pulses/electronic percussion, joined and eventually overtaken by synth harmony figure and strings, ending with high synth ornaments (Gem motif).
6 1:33 Arena 0:00: Sam walks towards a bright light and into a glass room.  He is elevated to the Disc Wars platform.  Clu arrives and takes a seat.  Sam sees his opponent.
Low drone, Arena theme ostinato in filtered synth, swelling and joined by percussion accents.
SE 3 1:41 Round One 0:00: Sam fights his first round and wins.
Held textures/pulses joined by Arena theme variation in low synth figures/rhythms, joined by percussion and brass swell.
7 2:18 Rinzler 0:00: Final Round is initiated and Rinzler approaches.  Clu observes as Rinzler arms himself with 2 discs.  After the initial fight, the stage flips.  Sam is eventually defeated.
Low drone and martial percussion accents, joined by synth bass pulse, Clu ostinato in strings/falling synth rhythm, developed and swelling with added layers of synth and drum accents, ending in a brass swell.
8 3:26 The Game Has Changed 0:00: Sam runs and activates his Light Cycle, joining his team mates.  Sam's group loses members.
Arena theme in synth joined by rhythmic slams/synth pulse/rhythmic strings, developed with brass accents/syncopated string/brass swells/accents.
2:05: Sam suggests working as a team, which works.  Clu takes out Sam's Light Cycle.
Falling synth "Teamwork" figure joins, leading into brass accent, rhythmic slams, developed string ostinato/pulses, slams and rhythmic synths resume ending in brass swell.
9 2:43 Outlands 0:00: Rinzler pursues Sam and Quorra's Light Runner across the arena grid.
Layers of ostinato in strings (Outlands rhythm).
0:31: Quorra opens a wall and loses her pursuers.  Quorra takes Sam to the Outlands.  They eventually arrive at Flynn's hideout.
Outlands theme surfaces with low wind accents, brass figures join, leading to antiphonal brass and wind rhythmic accents and a final ending brass cadence.
iTunes 23 3:12 Father and Son 0:00: Sam and Flynn embrace.  Sam tells Flynn that Alan got his page.  They decide to talk more over dinner.  Flynn looks out towards the city with resolve.  
Hesitant, soft synth figures leading to Tron theme variation in electric piano texture, joined and then overtaken by violins/horns.
2:14: Quorra shows Sam the library.
Somber/reverent string figures derived from Tron theme.
10 4:11 Adagio For TRON 0:00: Over dinner, Flynn explains to Sam how he, Clu and Tron built the Grid.  He tells Sam about the Isos, a new life form.  A flashback shows the appearance of the Isos.  In the flashback, Clu accosts Flynn and Tron.
Cello figures with plucked bass accents joined by full strings in polyphonic layers and developed, joined by synth ornaments and leading to resolved string cadence with brass, developed on organ/strings, low string accent.
2:20: Clu attacks Flynn and Tron and Flynn flees.  Clu destroys the Isos and Flynn is trapped in the Grid after the portal energy runs out.
Clu ostinato in low strings becoming synth rhythm/pulses and poignant strings, joined by tragic brass, cello solo/strings/bass plucks.
11 1:42 Nocturne0:00: Sam tries to convince Flynn to make a run for the portal but Flynn advises inaction.
Slow harmony in synth/strings derived from Tron theme harmony, joined by filtered (modulated) synth.
iTunes 24 2:54 Outlands, Pt. II 0:00: Sam heads back to the city in Flynn's vintage Light Cycle.  Flynn looks out towards the city.  
Outlands theme in strings/bass pulses with added percussion/ambient accents/synth/brass.
1:01: After giving away the Light Cycle, Sam is approached by one of the Sirens.  
Gem motif in high synth ornaments over low synth pulses/sighing textures.
1:27: Clu is informed that Flynn's hideout has been found.  Sam ascends to the End of Line club with Gem.
Rising harmony in strings/organ.
1:52: Flynn tells Quorra that they are going downtown.  The Siren takes Sam to Zuse's club, the End of Line.
Reverent synth/organ figure, joined by synth figure/strings.
12 2:37 End of Line 0:00: Sam and the Siren enter the End of Line club.  She takes him to Castor.  Castor is happy to see him and invites him to a private room.
Source music: Mid-tempo electro-synth rhythm.
SE 5 2:42 Reflections 0:00: Clu explores Flynn's hideout and
Low string texture/rhythmic ambient accents (timpani).
0:54: As Clu and his team further investigate Flynn's belongings, Clu has a flashback to his own creation.
Clu theme in ostinato strings/synth layers, developing and building with various filtered rhythmic layers, ending in brass swell.
SE 4 2:19 Castor 0:00: At the End of Line, Castor and Sam talk in his private back room.  Castor reveals his true identity as Zuse and offers to help Sam.  They discuss Quorra.  Clu's forces approach the club from the sky and crash in.
Source music: Up-tempo electro-synth rhythm.
13 1:44 Derezzed 0:00: Sam realizes he's been betrayed by Zuse and moves to engage Clu's forces.  Resistance members are killed.  Quorra arrives to help Sam and they fight the Black Guards together.  Quorra is damaged.
Source music: Up-tempo electro-synth rhythm.
14 1:23 Fall 0:00: Flynn arrives and the resistance fighters rally.  They escape but Flynn loses his identity disc to a Black Guard.  The elevator plummets down to the basement.
Rhythmic low synth/slams (Fall rhythmic motif) leading to noise layer and falling string rhythm (Teamwork motif), joined by building brass accents, ending with a timpani roll.
Amazon 23 2:42 Sea of Simulation 0:00: Sam, Flynn and Quorra board a Solar Sailer on the way to the portal.  Flynn works on fixing Quorra.  Sam realizes Quorra is an Iso.  Flynn restores Quorra.  
Outlands theme variation in "bouncy" synth textures (filtered), developed with additional synth layers and transitioning to strings.
15 2:42 Solar Sailor  0:00: (Alternate) Sam and Flynn talk about the night Flynn didn't come home.  They discuss Clu and how Flynn missed his son.  They talk about the Ducati and Sam's repairs (used as second end credits).
Synth rhythmic pulses/texture with growing soft strings, joined by synth arpeggio ornaments, blending into additional synth layers.
Nokia 23 2:51 Sunrise 0:00: Quorra tells Sam how Flynn saved her from death.  Sam and Quorra marvel at the portal in the distance.  Quorra asks Sam what a sunrise is like (also variation is used at the end when Quorra greets Sam outside the arcade and they ride the motorcycle into the sunrise).
Hopeful strings/rising synth rhythm, blending with supportive brass, developing.
16 2:14 Rectifier 0:00: On the carrier ship Rectifier, Clu addresses his troops and tells them that they will invade the real world.  The Rectifier moves towards the portal.  Sam and Flynn argue about their next move.
Rhythmic piano/low string flourishes/accents, joined by rhythmic martial strings/low brass accents, more brass layers enter and form a sinister march fanfare, ambient textures swell over string rhythm/piano accents.
17 4:12 Disc Wars 0:00: As Clu continues his speech, Sam sneaks onto the bridge and takes out some guards.  Flynn manages to commandeer a transport.
Foreboding drums and synth rhythm (derived from Rectifier March), joined by a slam and rhythmic strings, additional synth layers, drum accents and rhythmic strings enter.
2:00: Sam gets Flynn's identity disc back.  Clu is alerted to the disc's removal.  Rinzler arrives with Quorra, but Sam frees her and Rinzler is momentarily dispatched.  Sam and Quorra join Flynn in his 3-man Light Jet and they head for the portal.
Winding synth figure enters with additional synth layers, developing in irregular layers, strings and drum accents enter, strings/synth rhythmic figure, slowly dying out.
18 4:39 C.L.U. 0:00: Clu sees them take off and his forces pursue in solo Light Jets.  Quorra flies towards the portal.  Sam takes the rear turret and fires on the pursuing Light Jets.
Subdued string accents becomes Clu string rhythm with low brass accents and string trills, Clu theme in hard synth line joined by syncopated string rhythm and brass accents, brass and string counter figures.
2:06: Quorra and Sam whittle down the enemy craft.
Fall motif/rhythm synth enters with brass accents and rising string ornaments.
2:43: Quorra heads straight up towards the sky and the ship stalls.  
Slashing string accents and brass layers, tremolo strings.
3:09: It starts to fall but turns around and Quorra takes out some more of Clu's Light Jets.  Flynn recognizes Tron in Rinzler.  Rinzler overcomes his programming and crashes into Clu's Light Jet.
Teamwork motif in falling strings/synth with Clu rhythm in second string layer, harp gliss brings in brass, timpani accents, ending in ambient texture.
19 2:01 Arrival 0:00: Flynn, Sam and Quorra arrive at the portal and land.  They climb stairs towards the beam but are blocked by Clu.  Flynn confronts Clu with reason.  
Fateful Tron theme in synth variations, ending with added strings.
20 3:22 Flynn Lives 0:00: Clu attacks Flynn, but Quorra and Sam make it past Clu.  Clu obtains Flynns identity disc but it turns out to be Quorra's.  Flynn urges Sam and Quorra to escape in the beam and draws Clu into himself using his power.
Accented rhythmic string layers joined by brass/timpani, joined by Tron theme in low brass, then in horn/high synth pulses, then higher and higher brass registers with additional ornamental accents.
21 3:18 TRON Legacy 0:00: End Titles.
Electro-synth rhythm using Tron theme harmony, joined by Tron theme in lead synth, transitioning to string/brass textures.
22 4:23 Finale Final end credits (opening edited).
0:00: Low brass Sunrise theme, joined by additional brass, strings, winds, timpani.
2:12: Sunrise developed with brass leading into triumphant Tron theme
3:16: Sunrise in strings, ending with soft brass/string accent.

Links
Score Wiki Entry
Daft Punk
Joe Trapanese

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