Kurt shares his favorite instrumental music to read and write along with
Artist: Daft Punk
Album: TRON: Legacy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Length: 1 hour
Sounds like: Someone blipped all over my string section
Movie soundtracks often suffer from a lack of context. Stirring music that was designed to sync with on-screen action doesn’t always play well on its own. It’s rare to find a film score that works so well just as a straight-forward album, which makes TRON: Legacy all the more remarkable.
Written by French dance auteurs Daft Punk, the album sits nicely in between their typical work and a conventional musical score, blending electronic dance beats with traditional strings and orchestration. It never feels like a movie score, nor does it ever feel like a Daft Punk record. The two competing sensibilities temper each other.
Musically, TRON: Legacy spends much of its time exploring variations on a handful of cinematic melodies. The main theme is a relatively straightforward eight-bar sequence that rises and falls and returns triumphantly in two and three note bursts. It plays as a gentle string swell and then a searing sawtooth synth during the overture and again as an upbeat dance track during the end credits.
Action sequence tracks are frenetic and dynamic, but they never sacrifice the beat or assault the listener. Sad tracks lilt and waft without ever becoming atonal or pandering. And each track is a complete sonic entity rather than an event-driven mishmash. The result is one of my favorite records—not favorite instrumentals or favorite soundtracks, favorite records.
Pro: Part movie score, part electronica album, it rises above the tropes of both.
Con: One track has about twenty seconds of Jeff Bridges’ voiceover, which is distracting if you just want background music.
Standout Track(s): End Titles is highly danceable, Adagio For Tron is a gorgeous string arrangement, and for something that feels a little different from the rest of the album, I’m a fan of Solar Sailer.
Kurt Pankau is a programmer, musician, and storytelling enthusiast. He occasionally blogs at www.kurtpankau.com and often tweets at @kurtpankau. His short fiction has been featured in Quantum Fairy Tales, Daily Science Fiction, and once it even got produced for Wisconsin Public Radio. Fun Fact: He does not live anywhere near Wisconsin.