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TRON has been remastered for CD, Disney #60748-7.
Read the initial anticipatory report.
New: Bonus Image and Description:
Wendy's original sketch for main themes to TRON!
New pdfs: Keyboard magazine articles on TRON

Note: Trash your Cache or hit Reload, to be sure you're getting the latest page versions.

CD Cover
(New CD cover -- click for larger image) 

Orignal Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music by Wendy Carlos

1- Creation of Tron [0:46]
2- Only Solutions (Performed by Journey) [3:15]
3- We've Got Company [2:16]
4- Wormhole [2:27]
5- Ring Game and Escape [2:55]
6- Water Music and Tronaction [2:22]
7- Tron Scherzo [1:44]
8- Miracle and Magician [2:38]
9- Magic Landings [3:41]
10- Theme from Tron [1:32]
11- 1990's Theme (Performed by Journey) [2:25]
12- Love Theme [2:05]
13- Tower Music--Let Us Pray [3:45]
14- The Light Sailer [2:34]
15- Sea of Simulation [3:21]
16- A New Tron and the MCP [5:08]
17- Anthem [1:37]
18- Ending Titles [5:11]
Bonus tracks:
19- Tronaction (original version) [1:27]
20- Break In (for strings, flutes, and celesta) [5:31]
21- Anthem for Keyboard Solo [1:07]

The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Douglas Gamley
The U.C.L.A. Chorus driected by Donn Weiss
GDS and Moog Synthesizers performed by Wendy Carlos
 All selections are BMI
On Disney 60748-7

To audition/purchase TRON CD's,

just click CD this CD.

LP Cover   trumpet
(Original LP Cover Art -- click for larger image)
First Report: TRON Remastered!

LeafThis just in. We're certainly both as surprised and as happy as most of you will be. Disney just contacted us out of the blue, and informed us that they were going to release a CD of my original music soundtrack to put out in conjunction with their new DVD edition of the 1982 motion picture, TRON. They asked if we had a digital stereo CD master available. The catch was that they needed the new master, like ... yesterday!
The first thought that came into my mind was: "The sleeping giant awakes...!", a scene from some childhood story in which everyone lives happily ever after. Yet it's true, this one has a happy ending. It was VERY short notice, a good example of the old hurry up and wait (or is it vice-versa this time, something like that...?), but we were well prepared. I've mentioned several times before that we had finally made excellent surround transfers of the music master tapes, recordings which had become unplayable in the late 80's (there's a story on a previous news page). We suggested that we include some bonus tracks, music that didn't make it to the final original LP and cassette for reasons of space. Those masters had to be found and transferred, too. Liner notes ("Looking Back on Tron") had to be written. Most important, the whole thing had to be mixed to stereo and mastered with the same 20-bit Hi-D care we give our latest series of albums on East Side Digital: the best the masters can sound, short of altering them in any way artistically.

Promo Art
(TRON 1982 Poster Art --
click it for a larger image)

Fortunately, the sound for TRON was more recent than many of the ESD remasterings, and didn't need so much manual cleanup and massaging of tiny ticks, bumps, hums, hisses and so forth, that have become only audible on the latest audio systems. So the process went smoothly if intensely during a marathon week of whirlwind production over the Thanksgiving holiday. Hey, how could I refuse this opportunity?
This was a friendly surprise, a positive way to celebrate the holiday season at the end of a trying year on more of an up beat. All TRON enthusiasts should take note of the in store date of January 29th for the soundtrack CD's of the first CGI feature motion picture (with some notable breakthroughs in the music, too). The sound is beyond anything you've heard before: sharp and vivid, not like all those lame, overpriced pirate editions that thieves have sneaked out to fill the CD void (all faked from LP and Cassette transfers -- ick!).
Since this is not an ESD release, we have little control over the new album. So we'll be looking forward to the gala release with as much adrenaline flow as many of you will be. Can't Wait!  

--Wendy Carlos / December 2001

Update: the long-awaited CD was released as announced.
Alas, a couple of years later it seems to have been discontinued by someone new at Disney.
Sorry to share such annoying news with you, but we're looking into ways to make definitive copies available again.

Notes Postus Scriptus:

1) Before the final music mixes were made, my score for the Lightcycle Sequence was cut in favor of the sound effects. Big disappointment to me. That was among several sections on the multitrack work tapes that were never completed. We did create a rough demo "outtake" version as a favor for Disney upon the release of the TRON LaserDisk deluxe edition a few years ago (I've just been told it's on the new DVD, too, thanx: Brendan). But there was no time or budget to bring it up to the standards of the rest of the music score, and it does not appear on this new CD. I retain ownership of that section, unused in the actual film, and reworked and expanded it into the opening Scherzo of the "Io" movement from Digital Moonscapes. You should listen to that track (#8) if you want to hear "the definitive version" of this selection. Film composers often do the same thing with their better ideas that remain unused for various reasons. For example, Alex North reworked some unused music he'd written for Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey into several sections of his much later score to Dragonslayer. Can't keep a good idea down!

2) In reaction to many overly emotional (obsessive?) messages being sent over the net, including to us, we've all become quite gun-shy about changing ANYTHING on any remastered album. Only if absolutely necessary. So you will discover that the new TRON CD has all of the original tracks, in the original order (bonus tracks added at the end). Yes, that includes the two Journey songs as before -- there was space, why not? So please don't complain -- just think of the howls if Disney had NOT included them (then again, you can't win, it would appear...). Many filmscore albums I've heard are simply cluttered with tracks of pop songs that were needle dropped into the film, and I do understand how that can be annoying if you want to hear the background score, not what's called "source music." Many of us agree: just the soundtrack score on all albums described as "soundtrack score" albums, QED. But for two songs (one written for the film itself) it's scarcely a biggus dealus (unlike what was done to the end titles...)

3) Since the initial descriptions above this panel were written, we were sent a proof CD by the thoughtful Disney people. I'm happy to say they did a wonderful job, we're all very pleased with it. The new cover graphics, as you can see near the top of this page, are attractive, the liner notes came out fine, and they added the two Journey songs with care, balancing the sound and track spacings to match my final master. It sounds really good, and I think you'll all be please by it. We have nothing to do with this release, you'll have to ask Disney if there are any further questions about it. Thank you Disney, and thank those of you who wrote them and helped stimulate an interest in getting this project done, and done right!

--WC / February 2002

Up(Top of the Page) 

TRON Original Sketch
How two main themes were first created

LeafHere's a surprise for you musicians and composers out there. While recently searching through some papers saved from the time of composing the score to TRON, I came across a small sheet of note paper with a distinctive keyboard decoration along one edge. Ah yes, I used to keep a pad of this amusing paper by my bedside, in case I'd think of any ideas I wanted to save, either shortly before getting to sleep, or when I had just awaken. The light ink writing on this particular page (click the thumbnail above for a high res version) is a particularly important original sketch. It was jotted down bedside when I was trying to get to sleep late one night after a long session of composing some themes for the filmscore.
I recall that several good ideas came to me during several days, and you'll hear them in the score and on this original score album. One that had been eluding my best efforts, though, was a main theme for the score, something that would fit the "Anthem" idea in the screenplay, and also provide the melody and chord changes for the Tron Love Theme. You may know the frustrations yourself: the harder you try sometimes only makes matters seem worse. I decided to give up on it, head off to bed as it was nearly dawn. Something would come to me when I was rested, as it usually does (I hoped).
No sooner had I tucked myself into bed and turned out the lights that the answer just drifted into my inner ear, unbidden. As I was about to nod off this was annoying. But then, many of my best ideas, probably 30 to 40% of them do seem to pop into my head when it's most inconvenient. ;^) In such cases you actually "hear" the final music in your head, pretty nearly in a finished form, with the full orchestra or other instruments playing. A private, steerable juke box! What it's like subjectively is nearly the same sensation as if you were recalling some music you'd heard before, complete and auditory, as if you were only remembering it, not creating it on the spot.
If you've read biographies of composers you discover that this is a fairly common happenstance. With several years of practice, a reasonable musical talent, and some skill, it's surprising how well your inner ear will develop. Composing then is very often a matter of working out the details, double-checking the notes and combinations, and writing it all down in some reasonably accurate way. It feels as if you were doing musical dictation, which isn't far off the mark. Technically what's occurring is that the right hemisphere, the musico/ spatial/ creative side is steering, while the left analytical/ editorial/ language side is putting it all down rationally, while also blue penciling the weaker elements, prodding the right side to try another variation when a first impulse comes up short.
Yes, most composers use improvisatory elements, too. If you have worked hard on your performance chops this can be a more visceral way to create ideas quickly, to search for a general flow of the overall structure. For purely formal decisions you probably follow your more deliberate abilities, sit and plot and plan, not unlike the way a novelist or storyteller might do before commencing writing. Improvisation by itself often allows the fingers to lead, which can create less original patterns, as the muscle memory is not as "highly aware" of the path you're trying to steer as the higher sensibilities of the inner ear. And one can't always play well what your innermost mind imagines. It's a lot more shuffled and mixed together than this, of course. Most of the time you switch back and forth between all of the above, on a theme by theme, or note by note basis, whatever appears to be working best at a given moment.
The process happens to be a lot of fun. Composing is an extremely human task, most of us are prewired to respond to music, and many have the latent abilities to create it, if they were given a chance to develop it. When you compose for larger ensembles, be they acoustic, electroacoustic, or a hybrid of both, you do yourself a favor to attempt to conceive the raw ideas in a custom fit for the final sound sources. It's helpful to have total recall of all the sounds and instrumental colors you'll be using, so that even when you are just sitting, reading or ruminating perhaps, you allow your mind to crank away at the ideas, gestate over them while you're not actually working at it. That's what happened here.
The hours I'd spent in frustrating attempts to come up with a suitably subtle and romantic lead theme were not wasted. I'd already been sketching out ideas using a meter in seven (usually as 4 + 3), and trying some harmonic motion in minor and major thirds. I knew what flavor of theme might be ideal. But I was too close to it -- until I let go completely and let my mind drift. THEN -- it all snapped into place,. The result was that I had to turn on the light and write something out which would assure that the idea would still be there when I got up (and could better judge how good or bad it was).
If you recall the final theme you'll see that there were only a few changes made the next day, when I was delighted to discover that the brainstorm solution was pretty kewl after all. I often transpose such brainstorm ideas into C major or minor when I notate them, for less accidentals to jot down, and it's faster when you don't have manuscript paper, so have to write everything out. I see here that this time I just jotted note names down over the note stems which gave the rhythm. No staves at all. The underlying harmony seemed pretty obvious, like the descending second measure's: G - D - B & G clearly means a G major chord. So I let that go, although sometimes it is necessary to write at least some of the chords down, too.
You can see that the 4+3 meter was stated at the outset, along with a suggested tempo and bass line pattern. And in the middle of the page there's a second theme idea which was not quite so well thought through, although the descriptions you see there under the B section heading turned out to be very catalytic, and became a major germinating feature of the rest of the score. The bottom of the sheet has a somewhat greater amount of detail. I was clearly tired and trying to write down only enough to be sure I didn't forget what I was now hearing inside my head. See the theme there? It's what became the other main theme, heard plainly in the final "Trinitron" music written for the ending titles (but which Disney's music supervisor refused to allow us to use, as it was the only place the longer Journey tune he wanted to include would "fit" in the film -- damn him). It would have provided a MUCH better upbeat final mood to leave the audience with, don't you think, than drifting from symphony orchestra and huge concert organ to a pop rock group's four or five piece band?
Well, that was restored for a special LaserDisk track, and also included on the new DVD. Notice that near the bottom I suggest some rapid skipping about high notes to add as an upper "obligatio" to the second statement of the theme. And a few very low pedal tones are also sketched in below. Other details, which instrument plays what, even spatial positioning and reverb, can be noted while the inspiration is fresh. All these ideas turned out to be the way the final version developed, a very decent insight for a tired mind about to konk off to sleep, don't you think? I'm delighted to have found this small sheet of paper, and thought many of you might get a smile out of it, too, seeing the way several key ideas first sprang to life!

--Wendy Carlos / May 2003

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