WELCOME TO THE MACHINE: On Dec. 17, the Disney film “Tron: Legacy” picks up the story of the 1982 movie “Tron,” which was neither a critical nor commercial success but somehow still echoes in pop culture as an early signpost of the digital era’s glowing frontier. “Tron” is remembered more for its ideas and images (and its namesake video game) than for its story or characters, and that is a challenge presented to this new film, which is directed by Joseph Kosinski and stars Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. We’re counting down to the release date and today, Randy Lewis takes a look at the heritage of the film’s music.
Daft Punk’s mission in creating the music score for “Tron: Legacy” is doubly imposing. First, the French electronic music duo is charged with creating soundscapes to help director Joseph Kosinski guide audiences convincingly into the inner dimensions of virtual reality. In doing so, Daft Punk members Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo also face the challenge of delivering a worthy successor to the work of one of their key influences and one of the true pioneers of the entire field of electronic music: Wendy Carlos.
“Creatively, we all wanted the same thing,” Kosinski recently told KCRW-FM program director Jason Bentley, who also is the music supervisor for “Tron: Legacy.” “I knew we wanted to create a classic film score that blended electronic and orchestral music in a way that hadn’t been done before.”
That’s what Carlos did when she composed and performed the score for the original “Tron” film in 1982 for director Steven Lisberger, bringing to the project her technological and compositional innovations that in the late 1960s and ’70s significantly helped transform electronically generated sounds into bona fide music.
The score for “Tron” featured a trailblazing integration of traditional orchestral music with the sweeping, atmospheric synthesized sounds Carlos had introduced to much of the world in 1968 with her groundbreaking “Switched-On Bach” album. “It was a chance to work with a big orchestra and a fairly big electronic ensemble and wed the two together before synths had gotten to the stage where they could be used in the same room with the orchestra…”
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— Randy Lewis
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