Music and Characters.
In space, no one can hear you sing. But for Starfleet’s best and the brightest, a passion—and preferably talent—for music is practically an occupational requirement. From Spock’s harp to Riker’s trombone, Data’s violin to Harry’s clarinet, Star Trek’s characters have carried on playing for more than half a century, filling the silent void of space with a rich medley.
In this supplemental episode of Primitive Culture, recorded at London’s Royal Festival Hall during a performance of Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, Duncan Barrett is joined by Clara Cook to discuss the importance of music in Star Trek’s technologically sophisticated future. With all human—and alien—culture available at the mere press of a touchscreen, what does it mean to put in the hours of practice necessary to master a musical instrument? And can a symphony performed by an android truly be considered a “live” performance?
The Virtues of Live Performance (00:03:05)
“Virtuoso” and Elitist Snobbery (00:05:40)
“Lessons” and Talent vs. Passion (00:08:55)
Jazz Standards and Improvisation (00:17:08)
The Instrument Maketh the Man (00:22:55)
The “Classical” Music of the Future (00:26:15)
The Consolation of Romantic Music (00:31:50)
Folk Music and Raw Emotion (00:39:20)
Hopes for Discovery (00:46:05)
Filling the Void (00:48:24)
Tony Black (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
Shrinking Sci-Fi and DS9’s “One Little Ship.” We look at some examples of shrinking in Star Trek, comparing the franchise’s tiny people to those in science fiction cinema, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man and Fantastic Voyage.
Federation Politics in Star Trek. We’re joined by Keith DeCandido, author of Articles of the Federation, for a look at Star Trek’s political structures, the Federation Council, and its three on-screen presidents.
Star Trek and Fan Fiction. We consider Star Trek's role in the cultural phenomenon of fanfic, charting its development from the 'slash' stories of the 1970s through to the vast online archives of the twenty-first century.
Anne Frank and Counterpoint. We look at the influence of The Diary of Anne Frank on Star Trek’s screenwriters, considering how science fiction handles fascist and authoritarian regimes and the role played by ordinary people in resisting oppression.
Michael Piller, Joseph Conrad, and Star Trek: Insurrection. We look at some of the inspirations behind the script of the third TNG film, including Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and discuss Piller’s book Fade In.
The British Isles in Star Trek. We discuss the portrayal of our homelands over a few synthales at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and examine real-world independence movements and the effects of transporters on national identity.
Cinematic Influences on Star Trek: First Contact. We discuss the influence of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron on Jonathan Frakes and how their films inspired his big-screen directorial debut.
Gay Representation in Star Trek. We look at the franchise's fraught engagement with LGBT issues, from The Next Generation to Discovery.
Star Trek's Impossible Choices. We consider the influence of Sophie's Choice on Star Trek's storytelling and the dilemmas Starfleet captains are forced to face that the rest of us might consider impossible.
Voyager, History, and Nostalgia. We explore the show’s obsession with the past, debates around historical truth, the pleasures of nostalgia, and whether the homeward mission was inherently retrogressive.