Monday, March 21, 2016

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Horner, 1982)

Retrograde Records/FSM
     When the Star Trek film franchise continued on from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", the producers couldn't afford another magnificent Jerry Goldsmith score, so they turned to a younger, less famous composer, the late James Horner.  Horner's reputation would of course grow to become one of the major film composers of the modern era, but for Star Trek II, he was still establishing many of his trademark stylistic devices (many of which would be featured in a few of his following scores).  Even though Goldsmith was not involved with this production, at least one member of the previous film, Craig Huxley, returned, who ended up providing electronic music and the return of the "Blaster Beam".  Written in 4 and a half weeks (and orchestrated by Jack Hayes), most of the score was recorded in 3 days, with a couple more days later added for pick-ups.

Original LP Front
     In any case, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is easily my favorite Horner score, due to its fearless exuberance.  The score covers a gamut of atmospheres from totally abstract sound design to romantic sea themes which almost follow naturally from Debussy.  The original release was a superbly put together LP, but the more recent Retrograde Records/Film Score Monthly CD release includes the entire score as well as excellent liner notes by Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, and Alexander Kaplan (which were very helpful in the below analysis).  My analysis takes its cues from that release.

     The film's plot is pretty well-known, but essentially an old enemy of Captain Kirk's resurfaces (Khan Noonien Singh, from the Original Series episode "Space Seed") and lures him into a trap.  Khan's sneak attack initially succeeds in crippling Kirk's ship, but with a few tactical tricks involving ship design intelligence, deceptive communications protocols and environmental battle tactics, Kirk is able to disable Khan's vessel.  Khan detonates a "Genesis device" on his ship and the Enterprise is only saved by the heroic self-sacrifice of Mr. Spock, who repairs the Enterprise's warp power at the cost of his own life.

     Horner uses several themes and sub-themes in this score, all of which are instantly recognizable even decades after the film's initial release (well, to me at least):
Original LP Back
  • Kirk theme: main theme of the film, long-limbed and reaching upwards. usually signified by trumpet
  • Kirk 'Mission' theme: Kirk theme variation with military snare or other suspense rhythm
  • Enterprise theme: patient, romantic, somewhat naval theme, usually in low strings with high swirling figures in violins
  • Spock theme: introspective 2-phrase theme first introduced with "glassy" tones, using a whole tone scale, first winding down, and then winding back up
  • Khan 'Sinister' motif: short, rapid 7-note scalar/ornamental figure on horn, winding up/down, kind of a twisted version of the Starfleet motif (see below)
  • Khan Attack theme: col legno string rhythm (bow striking the fingerboard) often with Khan Sinister motif
  • Khan Attack theme 2 ("tail"): descending staccato tail often following Khan's Attack theme
  • Khan pulse: low bass pulses, sometimes changing speed, but generally even
  • Khan 'Past life' motif: echoplexed 2-note trumpet figures
  • Genesis harmony, texture: ethereal chords, "sparkly" high textures
  • Escape motif: tremolo brass fanfares, overlapping
  • Danger fanfare: 2 descending chords: often goes with shots of ships careening in space
  • Starfleet motif: high register scalar figure quickly falling and then rising back up.  It's interesting that Khan's 'Sinister' motif (above) also has a scalar basis, since Khan is after all, still human (but "modified").
  • TOS theme: trumpet fanfare opening from the Original Series

     The listing below describes the Complete score release.  Previously unreleased tracks are marked with * in the Title.
Trk Dur Title Film sequence, themes
1 3:08 Main Title
  • 0:00: Opening logos, spacescape: high drone/atmospheric textures lead to TOS (The Original Series) Alexander Courage fanfare and variations.
  • 0:46: Kirk's theme on brass, then strings variation, recap on strings/brass.
  • 1:51: Enterprise theme on low strings under whirling high strings and horn figures, then on violins.
  • 2:25: Coda based on previous motifs (TOS fanfare, Kirk theme on different instruments), back to high drone/textures.
2 0:47 Surprise On
Ceti Alpha V*
  • While examining a mysterious cargo bay on a desolate planet, Chekov realizes he's found the remains of the SS Botany Bay: suspense textures, building to a climax (CD liner notes indicate windy plastic pipe, rising string trills, dissonant brass).
3 4:20 Khan's Pets
  • 0:00: Khan slowly reveals himself: string cluster glissandi/textures.
  • 0:29: He recognizes Chekov: bass pulses (Khan pulse) with brass and string textures/glissandi, changing tempi with chord cadences.
  • 1:39: He reviews his previous encounter with Kirk: bass pulses cont'd with muted brass swells and whirling string figures (both based on undeveloped Khan Sinister motif), pulses become low bows, whirling string figures/chord cadences continue.
  • 3:16: Khan describes the fate of the planet on which Kirk left him: layers of somber string figures.
  • 3:49: Khan reflects on his past on Earth: on trumpets: Khan Sinister motif answered by Khan 'Past Life' motif: echoed 2-note accents.
"On Earth, 200 years ago…I was a prince, with power over millions."
4 3:55 The Eels Of
Ceti Alpha V*
  • 0:00: Khan extracts baby eels from his pet alien creatures: percussive accents and rising violin/trumpet suspense textures.
  • 0:51: Khan describes how the eels enter through the ear and how they effect their victims: electronic suspense textures over low, falling bass figure and high string rhythm, string trill clusters.
  • 1:55: Khan applies his eels to Chekov and Terrell: accelerating accents with percussive squeals, bass pulses resume, joined by high glassy textures.
Kirk In
Space Shuttle*
  • 2:34: Kirk and the original bridge crew approach the docked Enterprise in a shuttle: Starfleet motif (high register falling-rising scale), Kirk theme on muted low brass and winds/violin rhythm alternating with TOS trumpet fanfare.
  • 3:14: Enterprise theme enters in low strings and high swirling violins, ending in suspense cadence.
5 3:35 Enterprise
Clears Moorings
  • 0:00: As exterior lights activate on the Enterprise, Kirk enters the bridge.  Spock invites Lt. Saavik to assumes the command chair, and she orders the Enterprise to clear drydock moorings: brass accents and rising figures, martial snare with Kirk 'Mission' theme on harp/winds blended with sparkling Starfleet motif, then on violins, low brass, brief Spock motif fragment on piccolo (0:54), becoming sweeping strings, Kirk theme building to brass fanfares (later develops into Escape motif variant).
  • 1:58: The Enterprise slowly floats out of space dock.  The ending scene transitions to Regula I: Kirk theme in full brass, Enterprise theme in low strings with violin/brass ornaments, Kirk in violins, repeated falling figures, final fanfare/suspense trills (cuts to Regula I).
6 0:43 Chekov Lies*
  • 0:00: After Checkov contacts Dr. Marcus under Khan's control, Khan hopes Kirk will fall into his trap: Khan pulses, string clusters, trilling.
  • 0:15: On the Enterprise, Saavik runs into Kirk in the turbo lift: Danger fanfare (brass accents)/Kirk theme in brass layers, TOS fanfare on tuba, Starfleet motif.
7 1:13 Spock
  • Spock offers command of the Enterprise to Kirk for their unscheduled mission to Regula I: Spock theme as falling figures in "glassy textures", then rising figures joined by harp and out of tune panpipe/recorder, then falling again and resting in an ostinato.
8 2:08 Kirk Takes Command*
  • 0:00: Spock uses logic to convince Kirk to take command: Spock theme reprise as in previous cue.
"Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
  • 0:27: Kirk orders a course for Regula I, the ship goes to warp: Kirk 'Mission' theme with snare/rising brass registers, Enterprise theme in string layers, TOS theme, fanfare, swirling suspense harp.
"So much for a little training cruise."
He Tasks Me*
  • 1:38: Joachim questions Khan's plan.  Khan vows revenge: Khan pulse, string clusters, echoed brass, low piano notes, etc.
"I'll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom and round Perdition's flames before I give him up."
9 3:18 Genesis Project*
  • Kirk, Spock and McCoy watch a presentation on the Genesis Project: ambient electronic music (Craig Huxley).
10 5:09 Surprise Attack
  • 0:00: Reliant is detected closing fast with the Enterprise.  Kirk attempts contact: variation of Khan Sinister motif in low brass with undeveloped Khan Attack theme (col legno strings), then as a fanfare with accents and swirling ornaments,  Kirk Mission theme with martial snare rolls over low pulses (with Starfleet motif in violins), then back to Khan Attack theme 2 ("Tail": descending "tic toc" pizz. strings), Khan Attack fanfare, Kirk Mission theme in winds/brass with snare rolls/falling violin arpeggios/sinister bass, intercut with Khan Attack theme and fanfare (Khan prepares for attack, intercut with a puzzled Kirk).
"This is damn peculiar."
  • 2:28: Khan fires and damages the engine room, Kirk assesses damage: alarmed accents and rising clusters of brass/string figures/"blaster beam", Khan Attack theme modulating higher and higher
  • 3:15: As Kirk assesses the situation, Khan fires again.  Khan contacts the Enterprise and asks for their surrender: Khan descending Tail motif developed in strings/xylophone, etc., joined by poignant low string figure, Khan Attack theme with cymbal accents, swirling Khan Sinister strings/pizz. string accents, brass bends into worried Kirk theme in winds/brass over tic toc harp.
11 4:03 Kirk's
Explosive Reply
  • 0:00: Kirk stalls Khan, as Saavik retrieves Reliant's override codes: low strings/harp rhythm with Kirk variation motif in winds, brass accent chords, irregular staccato string/timpani rhythm, joined by Kirk theme fragment slowly building in muted brass, winds, strings, etc., leading into brass/snare/string rhythm accents.
  • 2:02: Kirk sends the remote code to deactivate Khan's shields and fires, Khan retreats: suspense figures with martial snare into rising string/brass/marimba figures with irregular accents, Kirk theme in brass into Khan attack theme, Danger fanfare (2:43), Khan Attack rhythm, harp arpeggio into Kirk's theme in winds, brass with falling string/glockenspiel arpeggios, suspense accents/textures (final brass tutti accents unused).
12 1:38 Inside Regula I*
  • Kirk, McCoy and Saavik explore the Regula I space station.  McCoy finds a dead body: atmospheric suspense textures (waterphone, string glissandi, piano clusters, brass accents, string bow strike accent with piano ornaments).
13 1:26 Brainwashed*
  • Terrell and Checkov are found on Regula I.  They tell him about Khan: Khan pulses/string trills, joined by Khan Sinister theme fragments in low winds/marimba/muted trumpet and brief echoed Khan "Past Life" trumpets.
14 2:01 Captain Terrell's Death*
  • After beaming down to the Regula I planetoid, Terrell and Checkov hold Kirk at gunpoint.  Khan orders them to kill Kirk.  Terrell shoots himself instead.  Kirk destroys Checkov's eel: Khan pulses, joined by falling wind chords, Khan Sinister motif in brass, winds, tremolo strings, whirling strings with rising brass figure, flutter-tongued falling brass figure, eventually leading to tic-toc piano/strings with bending brass.
15 0:59 Buried Alive*
  • After obtaining the Genesis device, Khan taunts Kirk: Khan pulse with bending brass, harp arpeggios in ending cadence.
16 1:11 The Genesis Cave*
  • Carol Marcus shows Kirk the Genesis cave.  Reliant hunts Enterprise: oscillating/shimmering winds/strings/harp/glockenspiel, Genesis textures (swelling brass/strings), then sudden suspense accent.
17 8:10 Battle In
The Mutara Nebula
  • 0:00: Having tricked Khan, Kirk and his team beam back to the Enterprise: layers if winds and string rhythms, becoming two layers of strings, soon joined by playful variation of Enterprise theme on low brass and piccolo.
  • 0:55: Enterprise and Reliant in space;  Kirk decides to try to lure the Reliant into the Mutara Nebula.  The Enterprise prepares for battle: hopeful Kirk theme in brass, Khan attack theme, determined pulses joined by Kirk theme in violins, winds, snare enters, fanfares, Kirk Mission theme builds in brass, etc.
  • 2:42: Reliant sights and pursues the Enterprise towards the Mutara Nebula: Khan attack theme, Khan Sinister motif as fanfares, Khan Attack with theme 2 descending tail variation, etc. (alternating episodes of Khan themes, Kirk and Enterprise motifs/fanfares separated by variations and tension fanfares).
  • 4:53: Khan hesitates to enter the Nebula and lose his tactical advantage, but Kirk's taunts lure the Reliant forward and they both enter: Khan Sinister fanfare into muted Kirk fanfare, leading into atmospheric textures with strings/synth/perc/echoed brass accents (Khan "past life")/blaster beam/piano/etc.
  • 6:20: The two ships take turns stalking each other in the murky environment and exchange fire, damaging each other: blaster beam, falling figures, Kirk/Khan fanfares, atmospheric suspense intercut with more rallying fanfares.
18 1:31 Enterprise
  • Surfacing from behind, the Enterprise fires and disables the Reliant: rising brass and martial snare, Danger fanfares, swirling strings, etc. lead to triumphant Kirk theme fragments ("Fire!"), more Danger fanfares, resigned figures in low strings.
19 6:36 Genesis Countdown
  • 0:00: After Khan activates the Genesis Device as a final tactic, Kirk urges Scotty to repair the warp drive: low string rhythm/ostinato (Kirk fragment), joined by martial snare/Kirk theme fragment in trumpets/winds, noble Kirk fanfares with blaster beam, Genesis texture, countdown accents and rising tremolo brass fanfares (Escape motif).
  • 1:14: Spock arrives at the engine room, knocks out McCoy and proceeds to repair the warp drive.  As Spock fixes the warp drive, Khan curses Kirk: tension rhythm, joined by Khan Sinister motif, rising wind/brass figure, Genesis texture joined by Spock theme in oboe, tension rhythm resumes with martial snare/Kirk Mission theme in trumpets, Escape motif in tremolo brass fanfare layers, low and high accents in irregular rhythms, Escape motif in brass fanfares.
"I'm sorry Doctor, I have no time to discuss this logically."
  • 3:07: The bridge crew wonders if they will make it, Khan utters a final curse: tension rhythm with swirling violin arpeggios, hesitant Enterprise theme in winds, Khan Attack theme, Attack theme 2 with descending tail variation, etc., rising fanfare.
  • 4:13: The Enterprise regains warp power and escapes the Genesis Wave explosion.  The crew look at the miracle of Genesis.  McCoy tells Kirk to hurry to the engine room, Kirk runs through corridors: triumphant brass figures, ethereal orchestral climaxes (Genesis textures) with swelling brass, uplifting harmonies with sparkling harp/percussion, muted brass Enterprise theme, brief low rumbling texture (Spock's empty chair), falling/rising string figure returns to Enterprise theme, developed on celli, underneath rising (poignant) violins, ending with plaintive, high Spock theme fragment.
20 1:55 Spock (Dies)*
  • Kirk and Spock say their final farewells: ethereal Spock theme variation on horns/wine glass(?), TOS brass fanfare, poignant brass/strings, Spock theme on sad horn.
"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."
21 1:28 Amazing Grace*
  • Spock's coffin is shot into space with Scotty on bagpipes.  Kirk is seen in his quarters: sad winds/strings, "Amazing Grace" on bagpipe, orchestra, Spock theme fragment.
22 8:47 Epilogue
  • 0:00: Kirk embraces his son David.  On the bridge the heroes reflect on Spock's death: Kirk theme developing on low brass over string tremoli, Enterprise theme on celli, Spock theme fully stated on muted brass/strings, ending with Kirk theme variation on horns.
"He's really not dead as long as we remember him..."
  • 1:41: Pan to the Genesis planet.  Spock's coffin lies on the new Genesis planet: sweeping strings/horn transition (Genesis harmonies) into soaring Enterprise theme, blending into Spock theme, ending with rising Kirk fragments in horns.
  • 2:50: Spock recites intro text : TOS theme intro with voice-over:
"To boldly go...where no man has gone before."
End Title
  • 3:26: Lilting string layers based on Kirk motifs, tremolo brass fanfare (Escape motif variant), Kirk theme on brass (with add'l electronics/perc.), strings, brass/strings.
  • 5:07: Enterprise theme variation on low strings/swirling violins/horns, theme on violins, TOS fanfare blended with Kirk fragments.
  • 5:58: Sweeping variation of Spock theme in celli (some brass), developed.
  • 7:10: Martial snare with Kirk Mission theme on brass/swirling strings, joined by sweeping violins.
  • 8:01: Enterprise theme variation on violins, final tremolo brass cadence with TOS flourish.
23 7:30 Epilogue
(Original Version)*
(Bridge dialogue segues to Spock narration directly, skipping Genesis planet/Spock coffin shot)
  • 0:00: Kirk embraces his son David.  On the bridge the heroes reflect on Spock's death: Kirk theme building on low brass over string tremoli, Enterprise theme on celli, Spock theme on muted brass/strings, ending with Kirk theme variation on horns.
  • 1:41: Spock recites intro text: TOS theme (without voice-over).
End Title*
  • 2:14: Lilting string layers based on Kirk motifs, tremolo brass fanfare, Kirk theme on brass (with add'l electronics/perc.), strings, brass/strings.
  • 3:52: Enterprise theme variation on low strings/swirling violins, theme on violins, TOS fanfare blended with Kirk, Spock theme in celli.  Sweeping variation of Spock theme in celli.
  • 5:57: Martial snare with Kirk theme on brass/swirling strings, joined by sweeping violins, Enterprise theme variation on violins, final tremolo brass cadence with TOS flourish.

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