Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alexander Courage

A   D   G
F#   D   B   E  A
A   C#

Okay, I don't know how to write it out on sheet music and have it appear on this blog, but if you're at all musically inclined, you'll recognize those notes as the familiar riff from one of the great theme songs in television history. It's part of the TNG theme, it's part of just about all of the Trek movie scores, and when you hear it, you can practically hear the whoosh of the Enterprise as it zooms by the screen.

Alexander Courage composed that theme, Loulie Jean Norman (there's the answer to a trivia question for you) sang that ethereal, lilting soprano vox that accompanies the theme, and Gene Roddenberry wrote those stirring lyrics. What? You've never heard the lyrics? Well, consider yourself lucky; they suck. Gene only wrote them so he could collect half of the royalties.

To quote Courage himself, from Solow & Justman's book Inside Star Trek:

...Roddenberry's lyrics totally lacked musical practicality. He made two very serious errors in writing the lyrics: One, he changed the shape of the melody by adding extra beats, and two, he used a closed vowel with a z-z-z-z-z sound on the highest notes, something that gives great problems to singers.

The irony is that Courage was willing to cooperate with Gene if it meant getting someone to sing the lyrics and make the song more valuable. In the end, he left the show after the first season.

Still, Courage didn't exactly lose sleep over the incident. It was but one part of a long and grand career in Hollywood dating back to the 40s, composing or orchestrating or both. He was a two-time Oscar nominee and he won the Emmy in 1988 for a Julie Andrews Christmas special.

DC Fontana
Gene Coon
Matt Jefferies
William Ware Theiss


  1. Janet rolls her eyes when we see that opening. I love how the soprano (Miss Norman. Thank you for adding to my knowledge.) hits that high note as DeForest Kelley's name appears. He is my favourite actor in the Star Trek universe. That's right, the entire universe. She gave up fighting with me about this and merely rolls her eyes.

  2. Kids today, whadda they know? :-p


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