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 Posted:   Aug 10, 2009 - 8:44 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I don't think I've ever seen a photo of the blaster beam. Anybody?

 
 Posted:   Aug 10, 2009 - 9:03 PM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

I don't think I've ever seen a photo of the blaster beam. Anybody?

Here you go...



& Watch it being played in a short video clip...

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=4672638

 
 Posted:   Aug 10, 2009 - 9:23 PM   
 By:   mxmx   (Member)

I recently caught up with Craig when working on the Star Trek II soundtrack (he loaned his master tapes for "Genesis Project") and I asked him about the beam. The actual instrument he used in all those scores is still in his possession and comes out for the occasional concert or session. We had it at the Hollywood Bowl in 2001 when 20 minutes of Star Trek: The Motion Picture were performed and watching it in action, along with all the other percussion (especially during "Spock Walk") was a real treat. Unfortunately it's very easy to simulate that kind of sound electronically now, so the fun of hitting something with a baseball bat or artillery shell is gone!

Mike

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 10, 2009 - 9:30 PM   
 By:   HerrmannMonster   (Member)

Here's a blog about it from the Music thing site...

http://musicthing.blogspot.com/2004/12/star-trek-female-orgasms-and.html

 
 Posted:   Aug 10, 2009 - 11:23 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

Thanks for the picture, Mark. It's large. Keeping it around the house must be a pain.

I recently caught up with Craig when working on the Star Trek II soundtrack (he loaned his master tapes for "Genesis Project") and I asked him about the beam. The actual instrument he used in all those scores is still in his possession and comes out for the occasional concert or session. We had it at the Hollywood Bowl in 2001 when 20 minutes of Star Trek: The Motion Picture were performed and watching it in action, along with all the other percussion (especially during "Spock Walk") was a real treat. Unfortunately it's very easy to simulate that kind of sound electronically now, so the fun of hitting something with a baseball bat or artillery shell is gone!

Mike


Mike's comment reminds me of when Bear McCreary needed to preserve the sound of a particular out-of-tune piano on GALACTICA. He "sampled" every key into a computer. Later, he could play "that piano" on a synthesizer keyboard. Maybe Craig should consider doing that and donating the instrument to the Smithsonian. They'll take anything connected to STAR TREK. That plan would get it out of the living room, Craig could still perform Blaster Beam sounds via synth, and there'd be a nice tax deduction for him.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2009 - 1:35 AM   
 By:   Talos   (Member)

If I were a filmmusic composer I would use this great sounding often. I even suggested to Brian Tyler to use it in Rambo, especially when Rambo gets pissed off, or during the scene in which he chops the head of that guy. Should have been great to hear the blaster beam during those scenes.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2009 - 2:03 AM   
 By:   Miragliano   (Member)

I'm glad to hear the Beam is alive and well, even if it happens to be in semi-retirement.

Anybody care to chime in on the Beam cameos in STIV and V? Maybe it was recorded but not used, perhaps in the original version of Rosenman's title theme or buried under SFX and narration in the international prologue.

The Blaster Beam usually stands out in the scores it's used in but I don't recall ever hearing it in Star Trek IV or V. I don't own the soundtrack to IV but i'm certain it doesn't appear on the V CD. I don't recall ever hearing it in the films either, maybe it's a very minor use indeed and buried under sound FX.

That picture of the Beam was impressive, just how long is it?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2009 - 2:18 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I recently caught up with Craig when working on the Star Trek II soundtrack (he loaned his master tapes for "Genesis Project") and I asked him about the beam. The actual instrument he used in all those scores is still in his possession and comes out for the occasional concert or session. We had it at the Hollywood Bowl in 2001 when 20 minutes of Star Trek: The Motion Picture were performed and watching it in action, along with all the other percussion (especially during "Spock Walk") was a real treat. Unfortunately it's very easy to simulate that kind of sound electronically now, so the fun of hitting something with a baseball bat or artillery shell is gone!

Mike



Yeah, but it's far more spectacular than just hearing the soundbites of a computer!

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 7:24 AM   
 By:   Ubik   (Member)

I mentioned earlier that Michael Stearns has a discussion of the Beam on the DVD for CHRONOS, in which he makes no mention of Craig Huxley.

I decided to go back and take another look at that feature on the DVD. He said that the Beam was "designed by John Lezelle" and that somone named "Francisco Lupica" had made "4 or 5 of the instruments from cast iron"; Stearns mentions that he found the cast iron to be "too heavy and hard to carry around," so he had his own Beam custom-built from aluminum.

Ever since I heard this discussion of the Beam I have been very confused. Everything I have read about this instrument led me to believe it is one-of-a-kind, designed by Huxley and only ever played by him. So who are these other people that Stearns mentions?

(It is a good question, by the way, as to why this instrument never caught on. My best guess is because of its association with STAR TREK and science fiction in general.)

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 7:39 AM   
 By:   Charles Thaxton   (Member)

Lupica was the first guy I saw using it...before STTMP & Huxley. Maybe it's a case of one guy originally made one and then through word of mouth, others made their own. Constance Demby uses it on some of her CDs also. Theoretically you could get almost the same sounds from guitar strings by pitch shifting the sound one or 2 octaves down with tape speed or a harmonizer. The Beam is essentially a huge guitar concept.

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Charles Thaxton   (Member)

this from wikipedia on Stearns-

In his earlier albums, he often used the Serge Modular synthesizer, giving his music a twinkling and "cosmic" sound. In 1982, he built "The Beam", a twelve-foot long acoustic instrument strung with 24 piano strings,[1] designed by John Lazelle and built with the help of Paul Abell.[2] He has since used it in many albums (solo or collaboration) as well as in concert and film scores

so if built in 1982 it was way after ST and Huxley (who played with Stearns years earlier as "Hundley") so I would guess that Lupica perhaps originated it....maybe Stearns & his buddies refined it with more strings...like a gigantic pedal steel.

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 8:02 AM   
 By:   Adm Naismith   (Member)

The liner notes for the latest 'Bionic Woman' episode CD from JoeHarnell.com say that Harnell used this is 1978 for 'The Martians Are Coming, The Martians Are Coming' (as the motif for the fake flying saucer).

I say the 'Blaster got plenty of exposure for an instrument with this specific of a sound.

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 8:05 AM   
 By:   Charles Thaxton   (Member)

http://www.lasercd.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=RRCD112

http://www.virtualvenice.info/music/francisco.htm


looks like Lazelle invented it (read the interview)

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 9:10 AM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

As to the origins of the beam: I think I remember seeing drawings of it in some of Da Vinci's papers. It was made out of strongly bound and woven Tiber river reeds and catgut strings. The pickups were hard to make out as that part of the drawing was obscured by what looks like stains from spilled red wine. The speaker system was made of goatskin membrane stretched over a modified open ended wine cask, but the internal workings are not shown. Amplifier drawings seem to be missing from the group, but the word "Fenderelli" followed by an arrow at the bottom of one page seems to point to a next page that is missing.

Apparently Da Vinci abandoned this particular invention as electricity hadn't been discovered yet and as such there was no place to plug it in.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 10:33 AM   
 By:   Ubik   (Member)

. . .Lupica was the first guy I saw using it...before STTMP & Huxley. . .

http://www.lasercd.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=RRCD112
http://www.virtualvenice.info/music/francisco.htm


. . .looks like Lazelle invented it (read the interview)



Thanks for pointing all of this out. It would seem that a number of different versions of the instrument exist. Perhaps every time a new one is custom-built the designer claims that he "created" it. That might explain why there are several different names attached to it. Perhaps Mr. Huxley's "version" was the one used in STAR TREK and therefore he was being honest (although misleading) in saying he had "created" it.


 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 12:13 PM   
 By:   Jon A. Bell   (Member)

I love hearing it in the "Helm's Deep" cue of Rosenman's "Lord of the Rings" score. I think it adds some really powerful orchestral color.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 1:26 PM   
 By:   Ubik   (Member)

The liner notes for the latest 'Bionic Woman' episode CD from JoeHarnell.com say that Harnell used this is 1978 for 'The Martians Are Coming, The Martians Are Coming' (as the motif for the fake flying saucer).


I love hearing it in the "Helm's Deep" cue of Rosenman's "Lord of the Rings" score. I think it adds some really powerful orchestral color.


It was used in LORD OF THE RINGS? And THE BIONIC WOMAN? Amazing. I always thought that its first appearance in a film score was ST: TMP.

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 11:46 PM   
 By:   mxmx   (Member)

The liner notes for the latest 'Bionic Woman' episode CD from JoeHarnell.com say that Harnell used this is 1978 for 'The Martians Are Coming, The Martians Are Coming' (as the motif for the fake flying saucer).


I love hearing it in the "Helm's Deep" cue of Rosenman's "Lord of the Rings" score. I think it adds some really powerful orchestral color.


It was used in LORD OF THE RINGS? And THE BIONIC WOMAN? Amazing. I always thought that its first appearance in a film score was ST: TMP.


It was also used by John Morris in Mel Brooks' High Anxiety the year before ST:TMP.

Mike

 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 11:59 PM   
 By:   Sarge   (Member)

And William Goldstein used it in the Chuck Norris film FORCED VENGEANCE (1982).

Embedding is disabled, so...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-e4b-5eUbE&feature=related

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 8:31 AM   
 By:   Ubik   (Member)

It was also used by John Morris in Mel Brooks' High Anxiety the year before ST:TMP.

Mike

And William Goldstein used it in the Chuck Norris film FORCED VENGEANCE (1982).


Holy crap! I've been telling people for years that Goldsmith and the Beam was like Tchaikovsky and the Celesta--that it was a brand new instrument and that he was the first to use it in an orchestral work. That's one of the reasons I believed the score to ST: TMP to be so utterly groundbreaking. Guess this is yet another lesson in "do your research before you go spouting to people"!

 
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