A Tale of Two Spocks: Spock’s Theme in Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country

Whenever a film franchise is fortunate enough to grow into a large series, it is very rare that each of the films can be scored by the same composer (Star Wars being a happy exception). Because most film franchises (i.e. James Bond, Mission Impossible, Star Trek) change film composers frequently, it is common for themes to differ from one film to the next. For example, if you listen to the themes of Mission Impossible and Mission Impossible 2, you would notice a huge difference in terms of style.

Occasionally though, themes created by different composers for the same character can sound very similar. In this case, I draw your attention to a set of themes, each created for the character of Spock from the original Star Trek series. The first theme was created by James Horner for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982.

The music begins with a soft glass-edged melody that gently drops down into the secondary theme (plucked out by the harp). This melody is a perfect characterization of Spock: he is Kirk’s rock, the perfect voice of reason. Kirk cannot conceive of a world where Spock is not by his side (which makes the ending of the film all the more upsetting).

The second theme was composed by Cliff Eidelman for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I apologize if the quality of sound isn’t as good, I’m still looking for an audio-only clip of this theme and when I find it I will post it here. At any rate, listen to the theme below and note how similar it is to Horner’s theme (I find both to be exceptionally beautiful).

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Spock and Valeris”

In fact, the two themes are so complementary to one another, that one wonders if Eidelman took direct inspiration from Horner’s theme when he put this score together (it’s no secret that they wanted James Horner to compose Star Trek VI, perhaps Eidelman was instructed to imitate Horner’s style. Of course it could just all be a coincidence, but i love to speculate on these things).

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1 thought on “A Tale of Two Spocks: Spock’s Theme in Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country

  1. Pingback: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991) | Film Music Central

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