For the last week I’ve been putting serious thought into the motives and inspirations of film composers from the 70s and 80s, specifically the composers that worked predominately in the realm of science fiction. More specifically, Alan Howarth, Brad Fiedel, Harold Faltermeyer, and Wendy Carlos. There are a lot of other composers that I’m not mentioning (Vangelis, Michael Kamen, etc) because of their primary use of a full orchestra rather than synthesizers. As I’m typing this I’m answering my own question that I haven’t even posed out loud yet. When did so many composers switch to working with analog synths rather than full orchestras?
My first music purchases were those 3 disc ‘Best of Science Fiction Overtures’ that came out in the early and mid 90s. For the longest time I didn’t know that the theme to The Terminator was entirely electronic, I guess it was less expensive to re-record entire songs with an orchestra than it was to license a song. Maybe they would have had to re-master every song. I don’t know. When I finally ended up hearing a lot of the songs from these compilations later in life I didn’t even know what I was listening to. Did Tron really sound like this? It all makes sense! It’s supposed to sound like a computer!
Maybe it was cheaper to compose on a Moog. Maybe it was much nicer to sit and have a cup of coffee in your den while you tried out different patch bays, or maybe (and probably) it was having to get dressed and commute to an expensive studio to wrangle around 70 people to get a song recorded that you could have finished by lunch in your afore mentioned den.