Leroy Anderson:Sleigh Ride

For the 3rd week of Listening Friday Christmas we are looking at a piece that is considered by many to be the quintessential in Christmas listening activity.  I'm speaking of none other than Leroy Anderson's (1908-1975) "Sleigh Ride".

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let's...oh.
Mr. Anderson was born in Cambridge to Swedish parents, and took an early interest in music from his mother's organ playing and his father's mandolin. He was a student of piano and trombone in his early years, eventually studying composition at the New England Conservatory and Harvard.  An interesting side note is that he did not have full confidence in his capability to make a decent living working as a musician or composer.  He was quite adept at linguistics and worked towards a Phd. in the study of the German and Scandinavian languages as his "backup plan". As a result, he came to master eleven languages in total. His language skills were also tapped by the Army in 1942 when he was drafted by the US Army and stationed in Iceland as a counter-intelligence officer. However, as you probably have guessed, he ended up remaining with music as a career and the rest is obvious. 

Anderson eventually rose to the ranks of band director at Harvard during his graduate study there which is when he caught the attention of Arthur Feidler, the conductor of the Boston Pops at the time.  Anderson had quite the knack for creating arrangements of light, enjoyable music that captured the heart and imagination of the people of his generation. The appeal of Leroy Anderson for me is that he's a gateway composer of sorts. His arrangements captured the identity of mid 20th century America and have continued to provide a soundtrack for the so-called "good ol' days".

Anderson wrote "Sleigh Ride" in 1948 and Tin-Pan Alley lyricist, Mitchell Parish, wrote lyrics for it two years later. It became an instant hit with the Boston Pops, and has been recorded numerous times and performed by the orchestra on a yearly basis.  Wikipedia boasts a list of about 150 recordings of the work by various artists across many genres of music.

And the "Creepiest Christmas Album Cover" award goes to...
An interesting note about the lyrics, it doesn't actually mention a lick about Christmas. It's essentially some guy riding around on a carriage in the early 20th century in a snow storm with some chick. They go to some farmer's birthday party and have a blast, eating pumpkin pie. Anderson himself got the idea for the work in the middle of July, during a noticeably snow-less point in the year. How it came to be known as the Christmas piece can only be attributed to it's use of sleigh bells.  You see, I have a theory...

Any Music + Sleigh Bells = Holiday Magic
So, as you recover from overeating dry Turkey and many unnecessary injuries at the hands of violence-crazed shoppers at WalMart, I invite you to kick your feet up and listen to two renditions of Leroy's most recognizable piece.  The first is of course the original played by none other than the Boston Pops (led by a very young John Williams!) and the second is an exciting rendition by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (though it does lack the infamous trumpet "neigh").

Enjoy the leftover turkey and all the stuff you bought today.  

Homework: Write a short story about what happens on the sleigh ride.

See you next Friday.




Vince Guaraldi: Oh Christmas Tree

I enjoy precipitation.  All forms of precipitation.  Being a Florida resident, we are often afforded only one or two variants- rain or heavy rain with occasional hail.  There are some who claim that it snows in Florida, however it's more like soft hail than anything that could conceivably be considered snow.

Now, there are some who would say that a love for falling moisture has much to do with the cleansing or purifying nature of the act, or that it's symbolic of the cycle of carbon-based life.  Those are all well-intentioned and beautiful things, however my love of rain and snow and hail and sleet and the life stems not from a psychological perspective, but a visual standpoint.
Of course, there's always Chocolate Rain too.

When it rains, the world is transformed.  You see, it's more often not raining and you've got varying degrees of sun and cloud and after a while it all just gets pretty boring. It all looks the same. But when it all of a sudden rains, well then it's an entirely new world out there! This is especially noticeable when it begins to snow, as the transformation is more long-lived and has a few more stages in its evolution.

Now, these alterations of our reality really aren't vast in the grand scheme of things. They are simply giving us the opportunity to look at our own unique world in a new and different way. Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) was able to do just that with his music.

And his mustache.  
Vince was born in in San Francisco, CA at a very pivotal time in the musical history of the United States.  He grew up into the era of Jazz moving forward into the mainstream of American culture and he himself was actually a big part of it. I can say with almost 100% certainty that every person reading this (even you crazy Russians) have heard Mr. Guaraldi play the piano. Even if you don't know him by name, you've heard his music.

Vince was contacted in the mid-1960's to do the score for a special animated Christmas special for Charles Schulz's Peanuts cartoon. The producer of the special, Lee Mendelson, had heard Guaraldi's trio playing their radio hit, "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and decided that the group had the sound required for the show. Guaraldi accepted and shortly thereafter began to create music for the "Charlie Brown Christmas" special and eventually went on to score 17 specials overall.

Sadly, Guaraldi died young of a heart attack, collapsing the same day after recording tracks for "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown".  He was 47.

What made him extremely memorable to me, aside from the obvious childhood influences we all probably share, was how he managed to find new ways to tell all these old stories.

Take "Oh Christmas Tree" for instance. A very simple song in general:
Now, I know many of you don't actually read music, but that's OK.  Here's what I want you to look for: the very top line is the melody and the 2nd and 3rd lines are what the piano would play.  The 4th, 5th and 6th lines are just continuations of the music from the top.  It reads left to right, just like you're reading the text now, but it's always stacked together like this when there are multiple parts. Now, above each couple of notes you'll see some letters. These letters refer to specific chords, which are essentially piece parts that make up everything except the melody.

If we were to write this out, you'd notice a bit of a pattern here.  It starts out with G - D - G - Am (which means A minor) - D7.  Then it repeats that same pattern again (G D G Am D7).  Sing O Christmas tree in your head and you'll notice that the melody at the beginning repeats the phrase "Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how are thy leaves so verdant!"

Same melody, same chords.  Simple. Now check out what Vince did-

Same melody (essentially speaking, he takes some rthymic liberties to make it a bit more zazzy), but look at the different chords!  Now, keep in mind we're in a different key so in this case F = G, D = C, etc. We start out with C7 - F - Gm7 - Am - D7(b9) - Gm7 - Em7(b5) - C7 (b9) - F - Bbm/C. Now, that's a workout of alphabetic proportions.  The additional symbols you see (the 7's, 9's and 5's) all refer to extra notes. With a simple C chord, a musician would assume that the notes C, E, and G are to be heard. When you add a 7 to that chord, we then expect the same C, E, and G, but now also a Bb.  If you throw in a b9 you'd add a Db, and a b5 means Gb instead of G. The Bbm/C implies a minor Bb chord (which is Bb, Db and F) while playing a C below all those on the piano (which is actually a 9th).


Before we go deeper, let's just compare the second phrase to see if it's the same-
1st Phrase -  (C7) - F - Gm7 - Am -                     D7(b9) - Gm7 - Em7(b5) - C7 (b9) - F - Bbm/C
2nd Phrase -            F - Gm7 - Am - Eb9(#11) - D7(b9) - Gm7 -                     C7(b9) - F

The answer is...sorta.  I put the 1st chord of the first phrase in parentheses since it's a pickup note. You'll notice the original version above does not have a chord symbol there at all (but it's essentially the same chord that Vince uses).  The first 3 chords are the same, but after the Am, he adds a bit of chromaticism to enhance the movement towards the D7.  You'll notice that the Gm7 goes straight to the C7(b9) and to the F, omitting the Em7(b5) from the previous phrase. The piece is in the key of F (which if you've read any other Listening Fridays, you might recall that F would be called tonic here) and music always likes to return to tonic.  It's like home.

So in this case, both phrases sorta end on F, but in the first phrase he throws in that Bbm chord with the 9th in the bass to (again) zazz things up a bit.  It makes it more interesting between the phrases because otherwise we'd have the same chord for 2+ measures.

OK. So I totally get it if I lost you back there. We got a little theoretical and that's not for everyone. The big takeaway is that Guaraldi added a lot of color to the standard work to make it his own. From a basic standpoint, it's not any better or worse. It's just...different. For Guaraldi, it was his way of changing his view on the world and in a very special way, it became the norm for many, many people in the world through the magic of that first Peanuts special.  Does that mean that to make good music you just have to add extra notes? No. There is some exceedingly beautiful music (some of which we'll talk about next week) that utilizes very simple harmonic structure to create astounding effects.  But with Vince, he had a knack for turning the standard on its head and making it work.

There's no shortage of American children who got their first dose of jazz during that Christmas in 1965. And there's no shortage of musicians who had that seed planted by Guaraldi and his trio inserting their art into the American psyche. In a big way, it's very poetic. One thing you must realize is that Jazz is uniquely American. In fact, it's the only completely original American music. Everything else you hear today was either imported or a descendent of Jazz.

That crappy pop music you kids listen to? The form that it's built on was invented by Jazz! Those awful three-chord rock tunes? Jazz with guitars and no horns. Even humble Miley Cyrus owes much to the rich traditions of texture, form and structure of Jazz.

All Vince really did was introduce us to our long, lost ancestors.

Homework: Make a cup of hot chocolate (or if you're in Florida get a $1 sweet tea from Mickey D's since it's still 84 degrees outside). Put your feet up on something comfortable. Press play.

See you next Friday.


The gif is from Blazing Saddles
musicnotes.com provided the sheet music.

As a separate note, being that this Friday represents the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who (in my humble opinion) was one of the finest leaders our fair country has ever seen- I invite you to visit this particular entry, in honor of his memory today.


Merry Christmas from Listening Friday!

Ok.  So here's my new plan.  Firstly, you need to understand something about me.

I freaking love Christmas music.

I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it's because I've become too jaded and cynical to sit quietly and listen to whatever Clear Channel thinks I should listen to, or maybe it's that it only comes once a year. I don't know why I like it, but I really do.  I think it's great.  I love movies set during the holidays, because they usually incorporate Christmas music too.  I love that thanks to our ridiculously commercialized society we now actually start Christmas in January.  It really just means that one radio station that no one ever listens to under any other circumstances will now start playing Christmas music non-stop for 24 hours a day.

I bet you didn't know there are over 140 versions of Silent Night.

But, let's discuss the plan.  There are six Fridays left before Christmas, so I'm introducing our latest series as "The 6 Listening Friday's of Christmas".  A caveat, we will not be featuring the "12 Days of Christmas" unless I run out of ideas before the end.

Our first one will be a bonus, since some of you might be annoyed that I'm going to be choosing Christmas music before Turkey-Day.  The bonus is that you will not find a single YouTube video to Christmas music on this entry.  In fact, you will find FIVE YouTube videos to Christmas music on this entry!

All five of these selections have been painstakingly...well, selected from thousands, nay MILLIONS of popular, sacred and everything in between in the land of Christmas tunes.  In my very humble opinion, these are in fact the five, absolute worst pieces of music, let alone Christmas music that you will ever set ears upon.

Now, you may be thinking- "Hey, I thought this blog was about "good" music!  It says so up there right above Beethoven!"

First off, it's Brahms with headphones.

Second off, shut up.

These are examples I'd often share with my kids around the holidays for fun. While I agree, that we should always strive to provide the best in musicality in all aspects of musicianship and study, I also like to have a good time. Preferably while drinking copious amounts of egg nog.  Publix non-alcoholic, you heathens.

So, sit back and crank up the speakers, because here they are in no particular order!  The WORST Christmas music ever!

#1- "Sleigh Rough"

Sadly, I have no idea who recorded this.  It's a bit of a conundrum.  If you listen very closely you will hear that all of these musicians can actually play their instruments quite well.  The problem comes when they actually attempt to play them at the same time and in the same building.  To my trained ears, it smacks of semi-pro or professionals goofing off and having a good time.  The gentleman counting them off at the beginning sells it though, because his fervor in lighting the fuse on this 'Jingle Bomb' is believable enough to put into my head that these people are really trying to create here.  I'll let you be the judge of that.

#2- Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow- The First Noel

There comes a point in history, a single moment that defines your whole of existence in a single instant, and changes you into something not altogether completely different than you once were.  That moment is generally referred to as the first time you hear Johnny Bowtie sing.  A textbook example of what money and confidence can do, Johnny Bowtie has a studio album out of him singing his versions of Christmas tunes.  Someone graciously put these to a video of a Santa Claus puppet.  All About Jazz has a great review of the album, and of Johnny's particular style.  A quote-

"Some musicians spend years on technique, working hard to hone accepted skills like pitch and time. Barstow dispenses with such limitations."
My favorite part of this recording is just listening to the keyboardist patiently keeping up with the tempo changes.  He deserves a medal just for finishing within 30 seconds of Barstow.  I also applaud Barstow for his amazing ability to finish every single phrase with a non-chord tone.  Bravo.

#3- The TasteeBros - Oh Come All Ye Faithful

If Hell has elevators, the music played in them will most undoubtedly be performed by none other than the TasteeBros.  Scott Englebright and Donny Dyess formed the group in the 90's after discovering that by blowing harder, they could play higher on their trumpets. They took this to ridiculous levels, creating such sound pressure levels that the Earth was shifted from its standard orbit around the Sun and Christmas now starts in October.  It's science.

In doing some basic research on these guys, I've found that Scott actually has a wikipedia page and has been pretty successful.  He actually played with the Maynard Ferguson band (which is probably where he refined his stratospheric trumpet abilities) and later worked with Bill Holman, Bobby Caldwell, Paul Anka and many others.  Together with Dyess, he co authored several method books and published a few CD's of the TasteeBros playing it really high and not screwing it up.  This selection is my favorite of their song book, because it makes me think of your standard middle school trumpet player.  They can only think of one thing, and that's playing really high.  So they take this beautiful arrangement of a traditional Christmas song and sully it with their "range exercises".

#4- Meatwad- "Frosty The Red-Nosed Snowman"

A few years back, the creators of Aqua Teen Hunger Force decided that it would be a good idea to release a Christmas album sung by the characters on their show.  For those of you who don't know, ATHF is a show about three anthropomorphic fast food items that live in New Jersey next to a bald fat guy.  They originally pitched the show as having the food be detectives, but only as a way to get it approved for a pilot.  They quickly abandoned that plot and assumed an insane ride of both surreal and non sequitur hijinks.  The Christmas Album does border on the sacrilege at moments, but some tunes are innocently non-offensive such as the one we'll examine today.  Meatwad, with the brain power of a child, tries to sing through one of his holiday favorites with the help of his foul-mouthed neighbor, Carl.

#5- ...

The last piece for today is probably the most offensive, vile, contrite piece of musical drivel ever confabbed into what could be considered radio-worthy in the history of mankind.  I feel dirty and sinister for even thinking of it, let alone including it my list. It is in no way redeemable, and everyone who was involved in its production will live their lives out in hiding and ashamed, because no one in their right mind would dare show their face after recording such a train wreck of musical holiday-tude.  I can't even describe it further without becoming nauseous, but here it is.  The tune that killed Christmas, listen to it if you can and may God have mercy on our souls...

If you're still alive after that, you can look forward to next week being much, MUCH better than this one.  I needed a break from the high brow stuff so I hope that was worth your time.  We'll continue over the next five weeks with a countdown of some of the BEST Christmas music ever to grace the soundwaves of Earth.

Until then faithful readership, Happy Thanksgiving!

Homework: Gather the following-

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Freshly grated nutmeg

Put the cream, sugar, eggs (preferably cracking and removing the shell first), and milk into a sauce pan. Whisk the hell out of it and cook on low heat. Don't ever stop whisking.  Do this until it sticks to a spoon. Don't let it boil. If you let it boil, Christmas is ruined. Take it off the stove and dump in the vanilla extract. Probably whisk it some more.  If you're a communist, you can drink it like this. If you aren't, put it in the fridge and serve it ice cold.  It will kill you.

See you next Friday.


If anyone knows who recorded "Sleigh Rough" please let me know.  I'd love to find out!
Johnny Barstow performs with keyboardist Larry Goldings.  The article was written by John Kelman for AllAboutJazz.com.
The Tasteebros own all their stuff and I already named them up there.  
Aqua Teen Hunger Force is produced by Williams Street and Cartoon Network.
And OK, I really don't think that song is the worst ever. I like Mariah Carey the same as the next guy. But all I want for Christmas is some damn egg nog.
Oh yeah.  And wikipedia and youtube helped too.


Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

You're in Paris.  It's 1913 and you've just entered the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. Within the large and beautiful theatre the crowd is tightly packed, all eagerly anticipating the premier of a young composer's new ballet.  The energy is thick in the humid air, and you can sense that this night is not going to be just any sort of of performance.

The house lights dim and the curtain is drawn quickly up into the fly space and you hear an ethereal, unworldly voice singing out high above the rustling bodies in the hall.  Unfortunately, that's the last bit of the music you'll hear tonight because you're sitting in the premier of Igor Stravinsky's (1882-1971) latest ballet, the "Rite of Spring" and half the audience just lost their damn minds.

Or just an average week in Springfield
There is a science that goes in to determining the point at which crowd mentality takes over and all hell theoretically will break loose.  Humans tend to be incredibly intelligent working in groups of 2 or 3. Any larger than that and a certain..."element" is introduced that alters the climate.  My college band director would refer to this as a personification of stupidity, humbly known as Mr. Stupid.  He's really not a bad guy, per se, perhaps misunderstood.  He's your friend, your brother, your father and your distant Aunt Gertrude. Mr. Stupid is that little voice that comes out when the momentum is not quite shifted entirely off the cliff of sanity into the valley of asinine, that simply says, "Do it."

And that is pretty much what happened on the April evening in a Parisian theatre.  Shortly after the introduction of the ballet, the crowd began jeering and heckling the orchestra, giving suggestions on how to proceed and lamenting the unarguably unique style of both music and dance to which they were being treated.

Within the crowd were two main schools of thought.  You had your upper-crusters who wanted to hear some pretty, inconsequential ballet and watch some chick with blocks in her shoes bounce around the stage for a few hours.  The other camp was essentially in favor of anything that would piss off the old geezers in the balconies.

I'm not sure today's culture can relate...
So, to explain what went wrong we do have to look at the choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky as well as the overall plot of the ballet.  The Rite of Spring explores Russian paganism and delves into a ritualistic homicide of a young girl who literally dances to death.  It's sharp, angular and violent.  The music was wholly representative of that.  If we look back into the growing trends from the Romantic era, music had become much more tactile and palpable.  It was being developed into more than repetitive themes and truly was arriving at a point where literally anything was fair game.  Stravinsky felt this, and was given the opportunity to explore the extent of his own abilities by his employer with the ballet company. Despite the creative team's anticipation, the French crowd was not completely ready for the musical affront they were to endure.

Fueled by the dichotomy of classes, they began fighting amongst themselves, eventually turning their mutual wrath upon the orchestra, who never stopped playing.  The dancers on stage couldn't hear their musical cues over the roar of the angry crowd turned mob.  It got so bad that at one point Nijinsky was shouting the counts from the wings.  Over 40 people were removed by force from the concert hall that had erupted in a riot.

The first run continued unabated with a few performances following, but the pallor of that opening night cast a deep shadow upon the work at large.  Nijinsky was later cited by Stravinsky for completing his vision almost to perfection, thus placing him side by side with the criticisms lodged solely with the so called "ugly dancing".

However, Stravinsky's music was also not spared from the slings and arrows from the pens of many critics of the day.  The score itself sounds to me very metallic in nature.  It's like a gigantic machine that's not quite running properly, and the results are sometimes catastrophic. The artists at Disney interpreted it as the beginning and the end of the dinosaurs, embracing the earthen and pugilistic nature of the work.

Today, it's considered a great turning point into the modern era of music, and is often cited by many composers who have come forth since, bringing unique and often initially unpopular ideas to the forefront of musical culture. The choreography to such abrasive music is a challenge to both the dancer and the audience, but I feel Stravinsky truly captured the anguish and despair that one might exhibit when exposed to such a heinous and vile act as human sacrifice.

And how
So today, you get two examples.  The first is a recording of the Atlanta symphony with no video.  The second is a dramatization of what the BBC interprets happened during the performance.  Youtube's being weird though, so I think you have to go to the site to watch it.  It's pretty good though, so it's worth your time.  If for some reason it doesn't start right, jump to 45 minutes in for the fun part.  

Homework: Listen to the first example with your eyes closed.  Picture how one might actually dance to this.  After you've had enough, watch the second example.  Bonus points if you listen/watch the whole thing.

See you next Friday.




Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan- Main Title: James Horner

I think I have to give a co-author credit to this week's LF.  This one is borne of a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine who is a band director.  I won't include his name in order to protect the innocent, but if he actually reads this and wants credit I'll gladly edit this to reflect it.

So, our conversation was centered around movie scores and how much new ones tend to suck pretty bad.  We were working on a project in his garage and he had a Pandora radio station for movie soundtracks going, specifically those relating to Star Trek.  A few cycled through and then came the JJ Abram's reboot score by Michael Giacchino.  We both agreed that the melody of the main theme was really well done, but we both fell short of calling it a masterwork.  It has all the ingredients that make up a good sci-fi flick score:

1. Lot's of French Horn in SPAAAAACE
2. It's pretty loud
3. Bass trombone (see #2)

But the problem we had with it really centered around the simplicity of the theme.  It didn't really go much beyond what you heard at the beginning of the movie.  Texturally, rhythmically, spiritually it kinda when stagnant.  Without saying it got repetitive, I have to say it said a lot about the same thing. Now, I'm really not knocking Giacchino too much here, because the guy obviously gets work.  He's also responsible for "The Incredibles", which quite frankly that score set the tone for the movie.  The Hollywood studio orchestra revival thing puts you in the driver's seat of an Aston Martin and says to hell with the gas prices.

But overall, I never felt like he did enough with his beautiful melody there either.  Yeah, we get it. Incredibles!  West-coast Jazz! Robots!  Give me another theme I can sing on my way home though.

The new Trek scores seem to have a lot of the same flaws.  Great melody, no development.  There are moments where he chops it up a bit to kind of go with the action more, but it still sounds like one note. And in my humble opinion, by dissecting it in this manner it then became more of a sound effect than that of a musical score.  It became less of a character in the movie and more of ambiance.

And I think if we compare movies within the past 20 years or so to movies that are 20-50 years old, that's a big part of the difference.

Suspension of disbelief is a phrase that is kicked around in creative circles, especially the visual arts. The whole goal of any work of art is to really transform the viewer into whatever the artist is wishing they could be. Some do it better than others. The suspension occurs the moment you stop realizing that you're not actually sitting in a stinky movie theatre next to an old lady and a fat guy, eating popcorn that tastes like motor oil and drinking flat soda.  You become part of the action, you care about the characters on the screen and genuinely understand and empathize with their plight. John Williams, whom we've discussed, believed that the score was a much a character as the leading lady. Without a strong, motif-laden track, the movie wouldn't fully engulf the viewer into that magic space between reality and fantasy.

Then there's those happy few who choose not exist in either...
So, old movies and newer movies both rely on suspension of disbelief, but I think the difference in how they do it is important to note.  Older movies cling to the era of live performance.  You walk in, the band's playing light house music.  As we get close to curtain, they bring on the overture.  From there as each character is introduced we hear motifs that attach a multi-sensory approach to defining our impression of each person.  As they grow and struggle, so does their theme.

Newer movies don't work this way.  They are much more immersive and follow more of the ride on rails approach to cinema.  In the previous model, the audience is treated like an audience.  Tacet participation is all that's required. When we watch a movie today though, we are pulled into the film and made to believe that we are actually sitting within the action itself.  The fourth wall still exists, but it is more transparent and flexible than ever before.

Now, I'm not getting out my curmudgeon cane and banging my fist on the table claiming that back in my day it was better.  Because in many ways it was not.  However, with this newer style of filmmaking, I don't think the old style of composing film scores completely jives with what's going down onscreen.  The motif model is dangerous, because if done poorly it can much more easily fracture the suspension of disbelief and then the fourth wall becomes an iron curtain.  In bad movies it makes us feel like Aunt Gertrude playing "Oh Danny Boy" at the Sopchoppy Elementary School Fall play.

The risk though, is worth the payout, because when it's well-done- it can make a movie great.

Such is the case with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  James Horner (b. 1953) was a young composer at the time, but was tasked with creating an environment within which a franchise would venture beyond its television birthing ground. This was important because the first Star Trek movie was pretty terrible.

And did they let George Takei design this poster?
From my research, the only criteria given to Mr. Horner was to make it sound nautical. If Star Wars was cowboys in space, then Star Trek was to be sailors in space.

Of course there's Mel Brooks...
It's fitting, because even in the earliest days of the original series, Star Trek has always taken a certain nautical quality to it, harkening to a naval tradition adopted by it's many space-going vessels. It works I suppose on many levels, but the last time mankind really was in an unknown world (before space that is) was when we were mapping the open seas in sailing vessels.

So with Mr. Horner, he did in fact generate a pretty ocean-going score without going all Cole Porter. He also managed to build the theme into a broad swath of color as opposed to one line that sits around and is punctuated by a lot of percussion and attacks.  He also developed character themes, that grew and developed much as the characters did themselves on screen.  I would argue that the closing scene between Kirk and Spock would not have had the same dramatic impact without the underscoring to bring us to that point.

C'mon Spock...Scotty's looking, don't make this weird.
So, sit back and enjoy it.  Immerse yourself in the music and see what springs to mind.

Homework: Put on some good headphones.  Close your eyes.  Write down what your mind shows you.

See you next Friday.