During the fifty plus years of scoring music for various Star Trek shows, four composers are primarily responsible for the different show themes and music.
The composers include Ron Jones, Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway, and Jeff Russo.
The composers had a tricky assignment, enticing original series fans. Jones addressed this by adding something familiar at the beginning of the TNG theme. “What I was told by Robert Justman is that Paramount was worried that everyone who was used to the original Star Trek was used to Shatner and Spock and the look and the feel of that show,” he said. “And now here’s this new one with a British captain with a bald head, and there’s a Klingon there — it was a weird cast! It was like a nightclub in Denmark. It was a weird group of people. And Paramount was worried about that. That’s why they used Jerry Goldsmith‘s familiar theme at the beginning.”
“I never questioned it,” said McCarthy. “They wanted Jerry, so if that’s what they want, that’s what they’ll get. I did write a theme — I called it the Picard Theme — because I thought they might want one. I had done Dynasty and other shows that were heavily motif-driven, so I thought it might be nice to have a motif for Patrick Stewart. So I wrote this theme that’s floating around on a CD somewhere, and I used it and they liked it. And then about three shows later, I used it again. But they stopped and said, ‘Wait a minute. We’ve already heard that. Don’t do that again.'”
Deep Space Nine was “challenging because it was claustrophobic,” said Chattaway, “but in some ways that made it more interesting. And I think viewers now are coming back to that show and saying, ‘Wait a minute. This is pretty amazing.’ I found it more interesting because it wasn’t about going out to blow up some planet. We had to develop some personal connections and write more personal music. Like the quirky Quark music. It was fun. It wasn’t your typical genre of what space was all about. It was fun. It wasn’t your typical genre of what space was all about.”
Working on Voyager was “like backing into the Next Generation again,” said McCarthy. “It was closer in attitude to The Next Generation and the original series than Deep Space Nine. By that time, we were given permission to be a little bolder. It was a good experience.
McCarthy wrote the music for the first and the last episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise. “It’s very satisfying,” he said. “There’s sadness, of course, because you hate to see the series end. And with Enterprise, it was really sad because we were hoping to go longer. That was also the last I’d see of that giant orchestra. I’d have fifty to sixty people per episode. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.”
Star Trek music is “an adventure,” said Russo. “You never know where it’s going to take you. The thing that I’ve enjoyed injecting into Star Trek music is trying to also find an emotionality to it. Telling the story from a character perspective and be able to connect those things thematically.”