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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (soundtrack)

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(written from a Production point of view)
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CD album cover

CD album cover
Composer(s): James Horner
Additional Music by: Alexander Courage
Orchestrator(s): Jack Hayes
Label: Atlantic Records
GNP Crescendo Records
Released: 5 February 1982
Length: 44:50

James Horner's original score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The album was the second Star Trek soundtrack to be recorded digitally, a fact that was promoted by Atlantic Records at the time of its release.

Overview

Following the perceived creative failure of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, director Nicholas Meyer and the creatives behind the follow up project sought a different tone for The Wrath of Khan. Enter composer James Horner, a relative unknown at the time, getting his big break with his introduction into the Star Trek universe... long before the music of Titanic brought him Oscars and fame.

In keeping with that new tone, and Meyer's vision of "Horatio Hornblower in outer space", Horner's score took on a distinctly nautical sound, far from Jerry Goldsmith's sweeping fanfares in the previous effort. Horner's score is harsher and edgier, with abrasive brass leading driving strings and clanking percussive elements. And yet, subtle hints of Goldsmith's orchestrations exist within the music of The Wrath of Khan such as the return of the | Blaster Beam, a unique musical instrument popularised by it's use as an accompaniment to the V'Ger cloud in Goldsmith's score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Identifiable themes exist throughout, including motifs for Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, Khan Noonien Singh and the renegades aboard the Reliant, and a stand-out theme for Spock - that would return as the opening fanfare of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

While considered by many to be one of best (if not the absolute best) scores of the Star Trek films, Khan is nevertheless more about motifs and features fewer memorable – or hummable – marches than films like The Motion Picture and even Cliff Eidelman's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Still a benchmark in Star Trek and action film music in general, Khan set a standard to be expanded upon by other composers and Horner himself. This outing widely considered the formative work in Horner's career, which still echoes with elements from his work in Star Trek.

The cues presented on the commercial release do not follow the order they are heard in the film, presumably for strictly musical reasons. In the film, the cues are heard in the following order: 1, 5, 6, 3, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9.

Track listing

The commercial soundtrack release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan contained a sampling of the music used in the film. Below is a list of the tracks made widely available.

It should be noted that the cues are significantly disorganized, with tracks arranged differently than how they are heard in the actual film.
# Title/Runtime
1 Main Title * (3:03)
2 Surprise Attack (5:06)
3 Spock (1:10)
4 Kirk's Explosive Reply (4:02)
5 Khan's Pets (4:18)
6 Enterprise Clears Moorings (3:32)
7 Battle in the Mutara Nebula (8:08)
8 Genesis Countdown (6:36)
9 Epilogue/End Title * † (8:40)
Total 44:50
* Contains TOS theme composed by Alexander Courage
Contains dialog performed by Leonard Nimoy

See also


Previous soundtrack release:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek Movie Soundtrack
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Next soundtrack release:
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

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