Given the nature of the movie, the music for Star Trek XI needed to be different than the typical “space music” score.
As reported by Titan Magazines, Star Trek XI composer Michael Giacchino thought at first to approach the music for Star Trek XI as was usually done with space movies, but realized that it wouldn’t be the right thing for this particular movie. “Quite honestly, that was the first direction we went in, and I had written several themes that were in that space opera kind of vein, somewhere between what Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams did, in that language of what we’ve all come to know as ‘space music,’ explained Giacchino. “On every one of them, it felt right for a big space movie, but it didn’t feel like our movie. Again it goes back to the idea that we were trying to do something that wasn’t exactly what you had seen or heard before. We wanted to do something that was a little different. Space movies don’t have to have this sound.”
This was due to the movie being about characters, specifically raw, unfinished characters. “J.J. always wanted to make it about the character,” said Giacchino. “He’d say that the theme for this movie can’t be polished, it can’t be soaring, it has to have an almost unfinished feel in the way that Kirk is almost an unfinished character.”
“He’s not a finished person,” said Giacchino. “He’s getting there but he’s not there. He’s a little rough around the edges. J.J. wanted something that was somewhat sad, somewhat brooding. That is clearly not what Star Trek has been in the past, or Star Wars, or anything that would normally go in that direction.”
According to Giacchino, that was the right decision to have made. “I think he was absolutely right to say what he said and it really took the music in a different direction,” said Giacchino. “We are dealing with the start of the relationships with these characters that we know so well. It’s a tough beginning for them, not an easy one. Any time we did try to be too heroic or too traditional, it felt wrong, and not true to what was going on emotionally in the story.”
“Musically, had we gone in a direction that it had gone before, it might have felt hollow,” Giacchino added. “It wouldn’t have felt like we were taking it anywhere different. I feel like it really needed to be treated differently than it has been the last ten years.