Most people have a favourite television theme and Star Trek fans could probably rank the franchise’s main themes in order of preference. Fortunately for me, my favourite TV and Trek theme are one and the same.
The Voyager theme was specifically written for the show by long-time Trek maestro, Jerry Goldsmith, who had been previously approached by Paramount Pictures to write the main theme for Deep Space Nine, but conflicting commitments meant he couldn’t. Lucky for us, Goldsmith’s schedule was clear when it came to Voyager.
More than any of the themes that came before or after it, this evocative piece perfectly captured the spirit of the show. There was melancholy and loneliness, reflecting the crew’s seven years spent adrift in the Delta quadrant, but like that crew, the theme was suffused with hope, stirring and inspiring, and all under two minutes. The brief piece is expansive as the vastness of space yet capturing an intimacy with that lone trumpet that soars above the orchestration like a bright light in the dark.
The theme was, of course, written months before Voyager first aired, but Goldsmith tapped into something fundamental about the show and its characters. By ending it with a short version of this theme, each episode was bookended by this emotional, yearning and hopeful music, framing the story to come, or giving pause to evaluate what one had just been seen.
Like the best music, the Voyager theme exists on its own merits and even away from a Star Trek context, it can be listened to and appreciated like any other classical piece. Goldsmith rightfully won an Emmy for the theme and in every re-watch and new fan discovering the series, his legacy lives on.
Netflix tricks us into thinking that we need to skip the intro, but Voyager reminds us that it’s the journey that matters. Every time I elect to let the theme unfurl in full, I feel a swell of emotion in my chest and tears behind my eyes. But enough about me, what’s your favourite theme from Star Trek and TV in general?