When the Bough Breaks #118

The Aldeans, culturally advanced but sterile inhabitants of a legendary “hidden” planet, kidnap Wesley Crusher and a number of other children from the Enterprise to preserve their race. Placing children in danger is a dramatic third rail, and perhaps for that reason the episode is both sentimental and emotionally timid once the aliens remove the youngsters from the ship. The children remain well behaved, and neither they nor their parents suffer the sort of emotional trauma one might expect. Likewise, the Aldeans appear to be gentle and loving in spite of their crime. Consequently, “When the Bough Breaks” is frustratingly static and often dramatically inert.

Whatever the limitations of the story, the scoring experience proved to be enjoyable for Ron Jones. His score is lyrical, delicate and sentimental, particularly his lilting theme for the Enterprise children (first heard in the opening cue, “Escape From Calculus”). Often voiced by piano or flute, the lilting melody underscores the bond of affection between the vulnerable kids and their parents, and even casts a sympathetic light on the Aldean captors. A wonder-filled theme for Aldea first appears in the episode teaser (“Myth Becomes Reality”) as the planet reveals itself to the Enterprise; Jones later condenses the melody into a tense electronic ostinato in “Interesting Choices” and “Scanning for Children,” shifting the operative mood from the romance of the myth of Aldea to a cold, obsessive reality. Jones treats the sweeping Aldea melody with shimmering, pulsating electronics in “Custodian” and “Power Source” to indicate the tail-wagging-the-dog idea of the Aldeans’ central computer and planetary shield, which is revealed to be the source of their health problems.

Jones enjoyed exploring the mindset of a child with the delicate children’s theme. “I loved the kids—I’m a kid, I’m still a kid at heart that played in tree forts in the backyard and pretended. Having that imagination we all have, I could capture that. In DuckTales, I wrote everything from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy, so it was easy to capture that in this. It’s a naïve, simple approach—when I could play with the fantasy and imagination, they had to be aware that I was doing that and that I was off in that little world.”

The obsessive “kidnapping motive” had to drive numerous talky scenes throughout the episode (“The Trade,” “Diagnosis” and “Through the Hole”) as Picard and his crew discuss strategy. “So many episodes have these meandering music lines, where the music is stretching things out and it’s active but it’s not really doing anything,” Jones says. “It’s like Vertigo, to show them discussing possibilities and options and to show the wheels turning.” Jones tackles the same problem with a more active approach late in “Power Source,” as Wesley begins his own investigation into the secrets of Aldea, and in “Passive Resistance,” creating a sense of “mission” with chimes beating out insistent rhythms to show Wesley taking command of the situation on Aldea and organizing a hunger strike.

Heart of Glory #120

When the Enterprise rescues a trio of renegade Klingons, Lt. Cmdr. Worf (Michael Dorn) is forced to choose between his Klingon heritage and Starfleet. After spending most of its first season studiously avoiding Star Trek’s classic alien races, The Next Generation generated some of its biggest fan buzz from this action-packed and dramatic episode. “Heart of Glory” is important as one of the show’s strongest early attempts to explore character, and is pivotal in defining the re-imagined Klingons as driven by societal codes of behavior and honor as well as primal warrior instincts. The teleplay strives for an operatic, poetic scope, and opened the path for a number of episodes involving Worf’s relationship to Klingon culture. Actor Vaughn Armstrong played Korris, the leader of the Klingon escapees, and he would go on to play numerous guest aliens on The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, as well as the recurring role of Admiral Forrest on Star Trek: Enterprise.

“Heart of Glory” gave Ron Jones more opportunities to pay homage to Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture score, this time bringing the same percussive, pagan energy to the Klingon race that Goldsmith had in his popular opening “Klingon Battle” cue from the feature film. But the story also allowed Jones to treat his Klingon material dramatically, to explore the psyche of Worf and illustrate his own warrior drives being provoked by his fellow Klingons.

The similarity of Jones’s Klingon theme to Goldsmith’s centers on both motives’ use of an open fifth, but in the case of Jones’s theme the interval partially derives from the limitations of the groaning Alpine horn (first heard in “Looking for Life Signs” and “Klingon Sting”) that the composer chose to utilize. “Every episode I’d try to bring in new instruments, and I went over to this guy’s place and he had all these Tibetan horns, and I said the Alpine horn is the one that sounds Klingon,” Jones remembers. “It’s wood, and it’s an actual log that’s been carved out so you can lip a couple notes. The Alpine horn had that fifth sound. I think that our primitive people two million years ago were singing before there was language. We were like birds, and women sitting on the riverside started language, but we sang before we spoke. But I also used the fifth because of the reference to Goldsmith, the Alpine horn, and because their society was very basic. I wanted to keep them very primal like the Vikings, and the Vikings too used horns to communicate from ship to ship, so I really thought of [Klingons] as the negative part of the Vikings. When the Alpine horn is doing flutter tongue, I was trying to get a language out of that you wouldn’t get from Western music—I was trying to get some Klingon out of it.”

Jones developed his Klingon theme into one of the most effective and powerful dramatic cues of the first season, “A Klingon’s Feelings,” voicing it first with ghostly synths, then woodwinds, strings and horns, underscoring a scene in which Korris questions Worf in private about his Klingon heritage. Jones added layers of clacking percussion to achieve the same primitive effect Goldsmith conjured up in his TMP Klingon cue, even using that approach to underscore repurposed footage of a Klingon cruiser from the first Trek film.

“Heart of Glory” climaxes with the Klingon survivors escaping the Enterprise brig by constructing weapons from components hidden in their boots, engaging in a firefight with the ship’s security teams, and finally confronting Worf in engineering—all sequences that allowed Jones to write dynamic, and distinctly Klingon, action cues. “There’s a little Prokofiev ‘Battle on the Ice’ there,” Jones says of the brig escape cue, referring to the Russian composer’s Alexander Nevsky. “I had metal and bamboo angklung, which are from the Philippines, and we had to have an 18-wheeler truck come in for that session to bring all the percussion instruments. We had a 20-foot angklung with big steel pipes and they were hitting the things so hard to get that sound and they had it on a pedal system—it was an epic percussion thing and I had to convince Paramount and everyone that I needed it. We rented everything [legendary percussionist and exotic instrument collector] Emil Richards had that day.”

At the end of the scoring session, Jones and a few players recorded a number of the specialized instruments “wild” for a potential music-effects library. Little came of the effort, but the “wild” Alpine horn can be heard on disc 13, track 5. “We wanted to give them layers we could put in,” Jones explains. “My lead percussionist Brad Dutz had all these instruments in his living room, and I would call him at two in the morning and say I needed something that sounded Klingon. He was a big Star Trek nut who had all the action figures in his pocket when I’d call him. He’d say, ‘How about a chinta?’ which is an instrument from Chile or South America with a series of jingle bells, and we’d put it through an echoplex, so I would write the chinta so it was cued in to these effects. We’d let them know in the booth that they’d have to funnel it through this delay and we’d figure the clicks and sub-divides would be either triplets or something else to fit the tempo, so everything had to be written out so they knew how that would happen. We had chintas, we had a metal scraper, which had springs called the springophone, so we built a library for all those effects. I knew we had more Klingon shows coming, so we got all this stuff together.” — 

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