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Old August 22 2011, 01:11 AM   #81
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Re: La-La Land Records Releasing a 3-CD Set of TNG Scores at Comic-Con

Just listened to "Code of Honor." I agree with what someone said above -- it's even better than I remembered. It's great being able to hear it in the clear and really be able to hear all its orchestral textures. It's a bit amusing reading in the liner notes about how Steiner was trying to do a mix of the classic Trek sound and a more modern orchestral/electronic sound, because aside from a smattering of electronics in the background of a few cues, this is a full-on classic 1960s-style score, in the same idiom as Steiner's TOS work. Indeed, that unused cue, "Code of Honor M41," sounds downright '40s in style, which may be why it wasn't used. But the whole thing's great. I love how richly melodic and motif-driven it is. I can't understand Berman's belief that reusing melodies made music sound repetitive or tracked from stock. This score is a fine example of how music can be built from developing variations on a motif. The interest lies in hearing how a recognized melody gets changed into something different each time, that tension or balance between the familiar and the new. The familiarity of the motif gives you the grounding to recognize how it's been made different.

My least favorite part of the "Code of Honor" score used to be the climactic fight ("Competition"/"Deadly Blow"), for a reason that may sound strange: its main melody, a succession of two-note patterns increasing in pitch, sounds very much like a cue from George Duning's score for "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" So I had trouble getting past the cognitive dissonance of hearing something in a Steiner score that reminded me of Duning. But on the CD, where I can hear the rich, driving bass of the ostinato, it sounds really powerful and compelling. Plus I've had nearly a quarter-century to get used to the fact that that melody is part of the episode's score.

My other disappointment back in the day was that Steiner didn't use any of his own TOS cues. He had a recurring Enterprise theme that he debuted in "Mudd's Women" and used several other times, sort of an inversion of the Courage fanfare, and that theme's always been a favorite of mine. And there were a couple of other motifs he reused in multiple episodes, motifs that made them characteristically "Steiner." I kinda missed those signature motifs in this score. Still, now that I have decades of familiarity with its themes and get to hear the score in such clear detail, I can tell that it's definitely in Steiner's classic style of melody and orchestration, and that's very satisfying, especially after the Chattaway disc with very few highlights standing out from the wallpaper.

In fact, I'm not sure any of Steiner's TOS scores sound quite this rich. Would it be safe to surmise that he had a bigger orchestra here than he ever did on TOS? I don't think it's quite my favorite Steiner score melodically, but it's certainly one of the most gorgeously executed ones, and a real treat to listen to.
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