Ship’s Log, Supplemental: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Encounter At Farpoint (Original TV Soundtrack)
I didn’t own a lot of music when I was younger. CDs were expensive, vinyl records moreso, both were hard to find where I live at the time and we didn’t really have much to play them on anyway. Any music I did have was strictly on audio cassette, and one of the most life-changing moments for me came when my aunt bought me a Sony Walkman so I could actually listen to my own music wherever I wanted.
Naturally, an album of music from Star Trek: The Next Generation got one of my scarce tape deck slots. There were a lot of soundtracks released for the series, but the one I had was the very first-Dennis McCarthy’s score for “Encounter at Farpoint”. Trekkers may disagree, but McCarthy is for me the iconic and quintessential Star Trek composer, with what’s probably my absolute favourite piece of music and score in the entire franchise to his name. We’re not talking about either right now, but we are looking at his first Star Trek work and one that holds a great deal of meaning for me personally.
I’m not ashamed to admit one of my favourite genres of music is film, television and video game soundtracks, especially theme songs. I admire how musicians can create songs that are designed to be equal parts short, catchy, memorable and deeply evocative. I can put on a good soundtrack and be instantly reminded of what I love about the actual work so much without being burdened with the infelicities that sometimes accompany the works themselves: It’s like a version of the work with the contrast dial turned up, and I’ll frequently put a soundtrack on in the background if I’m trying to cultivate a specific mood surrounding its parent work, like if I’m trying to write about it or something.
Dennis McCarthy’s score to “Encounter at Farpoint” is very solid: It is, I have said, not my favourite of his scores, though there are one or two pieces that stand out for me, but it is quite good. Indeed, it’s probably the best kind of soundtrack for the background music style of listening. It should probably say something that this has never been an album I listen to in its entirety very frequently-Not that it’s bad, but rather, that “Encounter at Farpoint” itself is so good I typically prefer to just go watch that. Although that said, I do have memories of putting this on during a road trip to Boston once and it making the other passengers quite happy. The real draw of this album for me has always been two things: Firstly, the sleeve art, which is one of the most evocative and meaningful images ever associated with Star Trek for me. The shot of the Enterprise in particular is my absolute favourite. Second, the theme song, which is, ironically enough, the one part of the soundtrack McCarthy *didn’t* do.
When I was younger I adored this song; it was probably one of my favourite pieces of music ever for a very long time and seemed to embody everything I saw in and loved about Star Trek: The Next Generation.…