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Music in TRON

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The Music in TRON is noticeably different from other movie scores due to its complex use of both synthesizers (analog and digital) and an orchestra, and sometimes choir. The music was written by Wendy Carlos (orchestrations by Jorge Calandrelli) and performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Douglas Gamley conducting.

How it was made

In 1981, Michael Fremer, who was the sound supervisor for TRON, hired famous synthesizer composer Wendy Carlos to write music just for the "computer world" scenes for TRON, with all synthesizer and no orchestra, while someone else would compose the music for the "real world" scenes with just an orchestra. Carlos had been trained in orchestration and felt this was a good opportunity for her "to break out and do a substantial amount of orchestral composition".[1]

Fremer agreed to let her write all of the music in the film including music with no synthesizers (something Carlos has not done often).

Synthesizers

Wendy Carlos used two synthesizers to accompany the orchestra with: A Moog Modular Synthesizer and a Crumar GDS (GDS stands for General Development System). The Crumar GDS deserves some special interest as this was Carlos' first significant involvement with a digital synthesizer.

The Moog Modular is a analog synthesizer (and one of the very first commercially available synthesizers in history) that some enthusiasts consider to be the original and definitive synthesizer. While digital synthesizers today are much cheaper and easier to use than analog synthesizers, analog "synths" produce a sound that is very hard to recreate perfectly in a digital environment.

The Moog Modular and Crumar GDS were used quite a lot on Tron, with the Moog providing "fat" and sometimes "chorus-like" sounds, while the Crumar GDS provided sounds that were very complex and used a lot for the drones and (according to Carlos in TRON soundtrack's CD liner notes) "wild organic sounds".[2] The Moog was also used a lot for the bass lines.

Orchestra and Choir

The orchestra music was recorded in London in March of 1982, at Royal Albert Hall and Walthamstow Halls with additional sessions in Los Angeles with the UCLA chorus and a smaller orchestra. The orchestra and conductor never heard the synthesizers or the chorus; all of the synthesizers were performed by hand (no sequencing nor MIDI) onto 4 to 10 additional tracks and were later added to the orchestra recording.[3]

Score and themes

Carlos explains that the score is based on two themes, a rhythmic military theme and a romantic theme. All of the music is written in 7/8 time, creating an "uneven" timing.

Deleted Music

There are two songs in the movie that were deleted from the final cut. These songs are "Lightcycle Games" and the second half of "Ending Titles", which was replaced with "Only Solutions" by the rock band, Journey. "Lightcycle Games" was originally meant to be played during the lightcycle sequence, but was removed. This song did not appear on the LP nor CD releases of the TRON Soundtrack, but rather on Wendy Carlos' "Rediscovering Lost Scores Vol. 2", which includes other unreleased music from TRON and studio demos. The only song that has not been released is the cue that plays when Lora Baines and Dr. Walter Gibbs are introduced, which, ironically, is a shorter version of "Lightcycle Games" played by the orchestra.

References

  1. Moog, Robert: Wendy Carlos & Michael Fremer Reveal the Secrets behind the Soundtrack of TRON."Wendy Carlos & Michael Fremer Reveal the Secrets behind the Soundtrack of TRON"
  2. Carlos, Wendy: TRON Soundtrack Liner Notes, Nov. 2001
  3. Carlos, Wendy: TRON Soundtrack Liner Notes, Nov. 2001
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