The final moments of Star Trek: Discovery this season saw the return of the classic Constitution-class USS Enterprise, visually revamped for the modern series, and with it, the arrival of Captain Pike’s starship came the Original Series’ timeless score.

Discovery composer Jeff Russo, who we spoke to in December ahead of the first series soundtrack release, took time this week to share how this new recording of the classic Alexander Courage theme came about for “Will You Take My Hand?.”

Speaking with Variety, Russo detailed the inspiration for the new recording, which this time was performed by the large, 74-piece orchestra that produces Star Trek: Discovery‘s music.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” says composer Jeff Russo of invoking the famous eight-note “Trek” fanfare (which he also excerpts in his own “Discovery” series theme). “It is the Enterprise, so I must play the Enterprise’s theme.”

The bigger surprise was the fresh take on Courage’s ’60s “Trek” theme that played under the end credits, performed by a 74-piece orchestra – more than twice the 29 musicians that Courage had when he first recorded the “Star Trek” theme in 1965.

Like the original, it featured a wordless soprano voice. And that, in fact, is how Russo came to re-record that iconic piece of music. Late last year, studio singer Ayana Haviv was at Russo’s studio to record arias from the Kasseelian opera that figures in Episodes 12 and 13. In a moment of inspiration, he asked her to sing the famous vocal part of the ’60s theme.

“I filmed it on my iPhone,” Russo tells Variety. “I thought it sounded great, so I just texted that to [executive producer] Alex Kurtzman with a note like ‘Isn’t this the coolest thing?’ He immediately texted me back,” Russo adds, suggesting that the composer record the entire piece as the end-credits music for the season finale.

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Russo addressed the question of ‘reimagining’ the theme, to go along with the new look of the Enterprise, which mostly came in the form of the enlarged group of performers.

I had to go and find the original scores, and then do a rearrangement and a re-imagination of that.

I didn’t want to change it too much from the original, but I wanted to sort of update it and bring into the 21st century. So, we did it with a much bigger band and a much bigger string section, and brass section then they did originally. And I think it sounds like a modern sort of version of that.

But the idea was born from just, “Check this out. Isn’t this cool?” You know? I just wanted to show him because we’re both Star Trek fans. I thought it was fun, and it turned into us doing it actually live for the end of just our finale, which is a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to do that.

Russo also spoke to IndieWire about the overall musical content of the Discovery season finale, from the goodbye between Tyler and Burnham, and the scenes at Federation Headquarters in Paris.

“I think that whole sequence [at the Federation office] and [Burnham’s] speech was a pretty pivotal moment,” Russo said. “I always felt like somewhere or another as she’s giving that speech and as we see the crew members, it would be a nice way to really drive home who we are and what our characters are and that these are the members of the crew of the Discovery. It’s their story, so what better way to drive that home than nod to our own theme?”

I’m trying to score from the perspective that these are real beings and they have their relationships and their feelings. It’s just as relevant to them as it is to the feelings that our bridge crew has. I didn’t want to play it like they were the Bad Guys and ‘Here’s the Bad Guy Theme.’

But how do they relate to themselves? Trying to thread that in has been a very small needle to thread. They do represent the nemesis of the bridge crew, and yet I still feel like I had to give them an emotional beat as well.”

“The theme from when Ash and Michael Burnham first kissed, I utilized that when they’re saying goodbye to each other. But I changed it from major to minor because all of a sudden, the thing that was bringing them together is now splitting them apart. Little details like that matter to me as a composer, and I like people to be able to see that happen and to go back and experience it,” Russo said.

Jeff Russo will be back to score the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, and the soundtrack release for the second half of Season One is expected this spring.

S1 Soundtrack:
Chapter 1 (MP3)


S1 Soundtrack:
Chapter 1 (CD)