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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old December 23 2008, 10:21 PM   #1
swaaye
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Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

I really think Ron Jones made some of the best soundtracks for TNG. I really wish that Berman and Jones could've found a way to get along because I think the TV shows soundtracks got worse without him, frankly. His soundtracks were often so much more vibrant and alive than Chattaway and McCarthy, and reminded me of the original crew feature films. I wonder what he would've done with DS9, too. DS9 could've used some new blood in the later seasons I think.

One thing that's curious to me though is how in interviews he always complains about the later shows sounding like "synth pads". I've always thought that that was a strange thing for him to say because he definitely used electronic elements in his music!

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Old December 23 2008, 11:42 PM   #2
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Ron Jones was excellent, I particularly love his Romulan "theme". He was probably the best composer Trek had (not including the movies).

I suppose Rick Berman firing him should have acted like a warning signal to similar decisions he was going to make later. Alas, we did not heed it.
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Old December 24 2008, 05:43 AM   #3
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

While it is true there are "two sides to every story" -- and we may never know for sure what happened behind the scenes -- on the surface I always thought it was a horrible decision by Berman to fire Ron Jones.

I despise the "sonic wallpaper" sound that has become so prevalent in television over the last decade or so. I'm not sure what television "genius" decided to move TV in this direction -- but it's not just Star Trek that suffers from it. Shows like the new Galactica for example have worthless music...barely music at all. I don't call droning non-thematic material music...it literally is just sonic wallpaper. It adds NOTHING to the scenes.

Why even HAVE music with this kind of crap? It's just a boring as having nothing.

I liked the old days when TV scores were thematic.

Recently, I've even noticed feature films have these downplayed scores as well.

Boring!!!!! I quit buying and collecting soundtrack CDs because of this. It would be interesting to see a study on how this lack of music has affected soundtrack sales...

OK, I am now off my soapbox.

I am probably one of the few remaining "dinosaurs" who actually listens to and cares about the quality of film music anyway...
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Old December 24 2008, 02:48 PM   #4
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

^^^ I agree with most of what you say, but I can't agree with your complaints about nuBSG. It has a very thematic soundtrack, most characters have their own theme and there are some truly great tracks on the soundtrack, such as Passacaglia, Prelude to War and Roslin and Adama. I can understand someone not liking the style of it though.
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Old December 24 2008, 04:42 PM   #5
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

swaaye wrote: View Post
I really think Ron Jones made some of the best soundtracks for TNG. I really wish that Berman and Jones could've found a way to get along because I think the TV shows soundtracks got worse without him, frankly. His soundtracks were often so much more vibrant and alive than Chattaway and McCarthy, and reminded me of the original crew feature films. I wonder what he would've done with DS9, too. DS9 could've used some new blood in the later seasons I think.
Well, the shift toward blander music isn't the fault of McCarthy and Chattaway. They've certainly proven in their other work that they're capable of highly dynamic and melodic music. Heck, McCarthy's early first-season TNG scores are just as rich and melodic as TOS music was, and his Generations score is much more intense and theme-driven than his usual Trek work. And Chattaway's first TNG score, "Tin Man," is much more vibrant and unusual in its style than his later Trek work. And they've both done richer music in other contexts.

But TV composers do what the producers tell them to. If the producers want bland atmospherics and the composer insists on doing rich, dynamic, thematic music, then the producers will let the composer go and hire someone else who will give them what they want. That's basically what happened with Jones. All the compsers were capable of doing rich, melodic music, but Jones was the only one who proved unwilling to adapt to the more repetitive style that Berman et al. preferred.

One thing that's curious to me though is how in interviews he always complains about the later shows sounding like "synth pads". I've always thought that that was a strange thing for him to say because he definitely used electronic elements in his music!
According to Wikipedia:
A synth pad is a sustained tone generated by a synthesizer, often employed for background harmony and atmosphere in much the same fashion that a string section is often used in acoustic music. Typically, a synth pad plays many whole or half notes, sometimes holding the same note while a lead voice sings or plays an entire musical phrase.
So a synth pad isn't an instrument, it's a type of undertone or ostinato generated automatically by a synthesizer (presumably called that because it "pads out" the sound with additional layers). Jones wasn't saying the later scores sounded electronic, he was criticizing them for sounding repetitive and monotonous.
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Old December 26 2008, 12:38 AM   #6
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Christopher,

Well goes to show what I know. I didn't realize that Chattaway did the Tin Man score. Didn't do my research there. You are right then that all 3 of the composers were great until TNG adopted the ultra-safe feel that it seemed to acquire as the seasons passed.

I really despised how TNG, DS9, and Voyager all basically had the same droning soundtracks. I didn't realize it as much back then but I've watched the shows so many times now () that it's just painful to hear the droning over and over. DS9's later seasons are particularly bothersome, IMO.

I wish more of the Season 1-3 TNG episode soundtracks were available. Season 3 in particular for me, besides just BoBW.
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Old December 26 2008, 12:44 AM   #7
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

GodBen wrote: View Post
Ron Jones was excellent, I particularly love his Romulan "theme". He was probably the best composer Trek had (not including the movies).

I suppose Rick Berman firing him should have acted like a warning signal to similar decisions he was going to make later. Alas, we did not heed it.
Heh. Well I'm not really one of the Berman haters. He made some good calls and some bad ones, but nobody's perfect and I'm sure his reasons for each choice were more than just pure twisted malevolent intent (as in he probably struggled with each one).

But yeah I really liked Ron Jones' music.
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Old December 26 2008, 01:37 AM   #8
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

GodBen wrote: View Post
I suppose Rick Berman firing him should have acted like a warning signal to similar decisions he was going to make later. Alas, we did not heed it.
That doesn't follow. The trend toward favoring "atmospheric" underscores to more melodic scores is widespread throughout Hollywood, so it doesn't reflect particularly on Berman himself.
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Old December 26 2008, 02:39 AM   #9
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, the shift toward blander music isn't the fault of McCarthy and Chattaway. They've certainly proven in their other work that they're capable of highly dynamic and melodic music. Heck, McCarthy's early first-season TNG scores are just as rich and melodic as TOS music was, and his Generations score is much more intense and theme-driven than his usual Trek work.
As you note, the first season of TNG was sonically different because Bob Justman wanted a rich, melodic underscore. When Justman left, Berman wanted the scores dialed back.

Speaking of Dennis McCarthy... In the mid 90s, I was watching a failed pilot on ABC on Saturday night. I don't remember anything about it, except for this. As I was watching it, I kept noticing the score. It was plucked on a guitar. And I said to myself, "This sounds like a Dennis McCarthy score." Sure enough, when the end credits rolled, the score was by McCarthy. I couldn't have done that again if I'd tried.
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Old December 26 2008, 08:01 AM   #10
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Christopher wrote: View Post
GodBen wrote: View Post
I suppose Rick Berman firing him should have acted like a warning signal to similar decisions he was going to make later. Alas, we did not heed it.
That doesn't follow. The trend toward favoring "atmospheric" underscores to more melodic scores is widespread throughout Hollywood, so it doesn't reflect particularly on Berman himself.
From what I've seen, there seems to be a general movement AWAY from scoring period.
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Old December 26 2008, 09:54 AM   #11
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Atmospheric "wallpaper" scores became a prevailing trend in Hollywood at that time. Ron Jones' scores sounded pretty dated, imo. His style was much more suited to animated sitcom, as evidenced by his scores for Family Guy. Aparently he was also very temperamental and did not take direction well. That was one of many reasons he was fired from TNG.
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Old December 26 2008, 10:10 AM   #12
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

number6 wrote: View Post
Atmospheric "wallpaper" scores became a prevailing trend in Hollywood at that time. Ron Jones' scores sounded pretty dated, imo. His style was much more suited to animated sitcom, as evidenced by his scores for Family Guy. Aparently he was also very temperamental and did not take direction well. That was one of many reasons he was fired from TNG.
In refutation of the former I would point to his work on the Binar's episode and "Best of Both Worlds" in particular.

And if by "not taking direction well" you mean not giving in and turning out audio pablum like King B wanted, then Viva la Revolucione!
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Old December 26 2008, 02:44 PM   #13
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Christopher wrote: View Post
GodBen wrote: View Post
I suppose Rick Berman firing him should have acted like a warning signal to similar decisions he was going to make later. Alas, we did not heed it.
That doesn't follow. The trend toward favoring "atmospheric" underscores to more melodic scores is widespread throughout Hollywood, so it doesn't reflect particularly on Berman himself.
And Hollywood in general went downhill around that time. It wasn't until the late 90s that they started coming out with some real quality TV shows again.

I'm not one of these people that absolutely hates Berman, I do recognise that he did some great work on TNG and he did help set up DS9 so he wasn't all bad. But Ron Jones was the most popular composer on TNG and he was fired because he didn't want to tone down his music. Star Trek is an adventure series, it deserved a big score just like the original series had. Berman's decision is the first sign to me that he didn't fully "get" Star Trek or what the fans wanted from it.
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Old December 26 2008, 07:35 PM   #14
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
As you note, the first season of TNG was sonically different because Bob Justman wanted a rich, melodic underscore. When Justman left, Berman wanted the scores dialed back.
Yes, even Jones's early TNG scores were different from his later work. A while back, when I rewatched "The Naked Now" for the first time in years, I was struck by how much Ron Jones's score for the episode emulated the style of TOS music. It was recognizably Jonesian, but it was Jones doing a TOS music pastiche.

And of course "Code of Honor" was scored by TOS's most prolific composer, Fred Steiner. I remember reading something back in '87 or '88 saying that Steiner wasn't brought back for more than one episode because the decision had been made to go in a more "contemporary" musical direction -- meaning that decision had to come fairly early in the game. I guess it was a gradual transition from traditional/melodic to contemporary/melodic to contemporary/atmospheric.

Speaking of Dennis McCarthy... In the mid 90s, I was watching a failed pilot on ABC on Saturday night. I don't remember anything about it, except for this. As I was watching it, I kept noticing the score. It was plucked on a guitar. And I said to myself, "This sounds like a Dennis McCarthy score." Sure enough, when the end credits rolled, the score was by McCarthy. I couldn't have done that again if I'd tried.
Heck, I can usually peg a McCarthy score within ten seconds. He has a very recognizable style. Also often-imitated in his heyday. When I first saw the SeaQuest DSV pilot, I was convinced it was McCarthy doing the score until I saw John Debney's name in the credits. And when later Trek composers like David Bell and Paul Baillargeon started to show up, their early scores tended to sound like McCarthy pastiches.

GodBen wrote: View Post
I'm not one of these people that absolutely hates Berman, I do recognise that he did some great work on TNG and he did help set up DS9 so he wasn't all bad. But Ron Jones was the most popular composer on TNG and he was fired because he didn't want to tone down his music. Star Trek is an adventure series, it deserved a big score just like the original series had. Berman's decision is the first sign to me that he didn't fully "get" Star Trek or what the fans wanted from it.
There's no such thing as "what the fans want." Trek fans are as far from a monolithic group as you can get; there's nothing they universally agree on. What you're talking about is your own personal tastes, and those don't represent universal standards. Personally, I agree with you; rich melodic scores are better. But simple logic tells me that's far from a universal belief. If nobody liked atmospheric scores, then atmospheric scores wouldn't have become so dominant in TV and film. Obviously there are a lot of people who prefer them, or are at least indifferent.

If Berman hadn't given the majority of fans what they wanted, then the shows wouldn't have been as successful as they were and he wouldn't have stayed in charge as long as he did. Naturally he couldn't please all the people all the time, and naturally the longer one person stays in charge of anything, the more accumulated gripes people will have toward him. But the job of any TV producer is to try to satisfy the audience enough that they keep coming back for more, so he wouldn't have kept Star Trek on the air for 18 years straight if he hadn't been satisfying the majority of the audience for the majority of that time. Granted, for the last 4-6 of those years, the audience was steadily eroding away, and ENT would've ended sooner, or might not even have been made, if not for the fact that Trek was the linchpin of the whole UPN network and they really couldn't afford to be without it. But it's just illogical to claim that Berman was somehow profoundly out of touch for the entirety of the decade-plus during which televised Star Trek was wildly successful under his supervision.
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Old December 29 2008, 11:38 PM   #15
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Re: Ron Jones' "Assassination"...

I don't have a whole lot to contribute to this thread other than my belief that the best TV composer out there is Murray Gold, whose work for Doctor Who is consistently amazing.

The composers on shows like Firefly, The West Wing, Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer often rock as well.
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