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Goldsmith was influenced by the style of the romantic, sweeping music of Star Wars. "When you stop and think about it, space is a very romantic thought. It is, to me, like the Old West, we're up in the universe. It's about discovery and new life [...] it's really the basic premise of Star Trek", he said. Goldsmith's initial bombastic main theme reminded Ramsay and Wise of sailing ships. Unable to articulate what he felt was wrong with the piece, Wise recommended writing an entirely different piece. Although irked by the rejection, Goldsmith consented to rework his initial ideas. The rewriting of the theme required changes to several sequences Goldsmith had scored without writing a main title piece.
The approach of Kirk and Scott to the drydocked Enterprise by shuttle lasted a ponderous five minutes due to the effect shots coming in late and unedited, requiring Goldsmith to maintain interest with a revised and developed cue.?
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the only Star Trek film to have a true overture, using "Ilia's Theme" (later re-recorded, as a lyrical version, by Shaun Cassidy as "A Star Beyond Time" with lyrics by Larry Kusik) in this role, most noticeably in the "Director's Edition" DVD release. Star Trek and The Black Hole were the only feature films to use an overture from the end of 1979 until 2000 (with Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark).
Much of the recording equipment used to create the movie's intricately complicated sound effects was, at the time, extremely cutting-edge. Among these pieces of equipment was the ADS (Advanced Digital Synthesizer). The film's soundtrack also provided a debut for the Blaster Beam, an electronic instrument 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 m) long. It was created by musician Craig Huxley, who played a small role in an episode of the original television series. The Blaster had steel wires connected to amplifiers fitted to the main piece of aluminum; the device was played with an artillery shell. Goldsmith heard it and immediately decided to use it for V'Ger's cues.
Several state-of-the-art synthesizers were used as musical instruments, notably the Yamaha CS-80, ARP 2600, Oberheim OB-X, and Serge synthesizer. An enormous pipe organ first plays the V'Ger theme on the Enterprise's approach, a literal indication of the machine's power.
Goldsmith scored The Motion Picture over a period of three to four months, a relatively relaxed schedule compared to typical production, but time pressures resulted in Goldsmith bringing on colleagues to assist in the work. Alexander Courage, composer of the original Star Trek theme, provided arrangements to accompany Kirk's log entries, while Fred Steiner wrote 11 cues of additional music, notably the music to accompany the Enterprise achieving warp speed and first meeting V'Ger. The rush to finish the rest of the film impacted the score.
The score to Star Trek: The Motion Picture went on to garner Goldsmith nominations for the Oscars, Golden Globe and Saturn awards. It is often regarded as one of the composer's greatest scores, and was also one of the American Film Institute's 250 nominated scores for their top 25 American film scores.
1 Main Title / Klingon Battle 6:50
2 Leaving Drydock 3:29
3 The Cloud 4:59
4 The Enterprise 5:58
5 Ilia's Theme 3:00
6 Vejur Flyover 4:55
7 The Meld 3:15
8 Spock Walk 4:17
9 End Title 3:15