“Star Trek” fans are still buzzing about the music of the final season of “Picard.” That’s because the lavish symphonic score by Stephen Barton and Frederik Wiedmann references multiple themes from throughout the 57-year history of “Trek” movies and TV shows.
Barton, who scored seven of the 10 episodes and collaborated with Wiedmann on the finale, says that the idea belonged to showrunner Terry Matalas. “From the very beginning, we chatted a lot about the ‘Star Trek’ we grew up with. This was a moment in the franchise to take a step back, look at the whole picture, and say, how can we honor this?”
Matalas has “an amazing, vast knowledge” of “Trek” music, Wiedmann says. “He’s as enthusiastic about film scores as we are – which, in the end, was extremely helpful for us because Terry had such a clear idea on where to go with the music.”
Jerry Goldsmith’s themes for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (originally written for 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”) and 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact” are omnipresent, but there are also quotations from James Horner’s music in “The Wrath of Khan” (1982), Leonard Rosenman’s from “The Voyage Home” (1986), Goldsmith’s “The Final Frontier” (1989), Cliff Eidelman’s “The Undiscovered Country” (1991), Dennis McCarthy’s “Generations” (1994), Goldsmith’s “Voyager” theme (1995) and, of course, Alexander Courage’s original “Trek” fanfare from 1966.
While these musical Easter eggs were fun for aficionados to identify, there was also a huge amount of original music to write as well. Orchestras ranged from 70 to 82 players every session.
“It’s just a massive endeavor,” says Wiedmann, “because everything had to be composed and recorded with a big orchestra every two weeks.” In fact, that’s why he was brought in. Barton had written four and a half hours of music for the first six episodes and, as he says, “I was just dead.”
Barton composed themes for the USS Titan, the ship that Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) commandeer in their quest to confront the changelings that threaten Starfleet; a family motif for Picard, Crusher (Gates McFadden) and their mysteriously empowered son Jack (Ed Speleers); and a darker hued piece that represents the conspiracy.
Matalas brought on Wiedmann for three of the final four episodes but almost didn’t connect — that “monumental, life-changing email,” as Wiedmann puts it, went into a spam folder. Luckily, Matalas contacted the composer’s agent and drafted him into immediate service.
Wiedmann’s contributions include a seven-minute neoclassical piece for the villainous Vadic (Amanda Plummer), along with music for the Borg and a motif for Jack and Picard.
All told, the two composers wrote and recorded more than seven hours of music in four months, and both call it a high point in their careers. “‘Next Gen’ was the show I grew up with, and to be entrusted with this, it’s just a crazy honor,” says Barton.
Adds Wiedmann: “When you set out to become a film composer at 12 or 13, the one thing you dream about is working on ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars.’ That’s as good as it gets.”
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