Tron - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music by Wendy Carlos

Reviewed by Nathan Strum

For the first time - the soundtrack to Tron has been released on CD! Unless you had the LP or cassette, this is your first chance to hear the music on its own. So how does it sound?

The quality is excellent. Prior to its release, composer Wendy Carlos had pulled the original master tapes back from the brink of destruction, and remastered them.

Listening to the soundtrack for the first time apart from the film is an odd experience. At times it was difficult to recall where in the film a particular piece was from. At other times, I was surprised to hear what I thought had been sound effects in the movie appear as part of the musical score. I think both of these are attributable to how well integrated into the film the soundtrack actually is. It becomes part of the film, and indeed, in the electronic world becomes part of the environment itself. This is a far cry from many soundtracks which overpower a movie with bombastic themes that pull you out of the film, so you can hear how important the composer thinks their music is.

As music on its own, it's a solid, listenable album. Some of the tracks don't lend themselves as well to being stand alone compositions as others, but with soundtracks that shouldn't be the point anyway. Soundtracks are meant to reinforce the ideas of the movie, and to that end, the music in Tron excels in every way.

There are two Journey tracks on the album, "Only Solutions" doesn't appear to have anything thematically to do with the movie, although the character Flynn at one point says, "Like the man says, 'no problems only solutions'", so perhaps that's where the title originated. "1990's Theme" is an instantly forgettable, repetitive instrumental track that was used as background music during the opening light cycle arcade game sequence. Given that it's such an inconsequential track, it's surprising that it gets hyped on the cover of the CD. Perhaps that was a contractual agreement with Journey. "Only Solutions" is a decent song, however.

There are three bonus tracks on the album. "TronAction" (original version), "Break In" (for strings, flutes and celesta) and "Anthem for Keyboard Solo". "Break In" is a nice addition, since it gives some additional "real-world" music to the collection. "Anthem for Keyboard Solo" is an interesting, almost haunting rendition of the Tron theme, although the synthesizer used makes it sound oddly like a banjo is playing it. Maybe it's just me.

Missing from the collection is the music originally scored for the light cycle sequence, but not used in the final film. While an early version is included on the DVD, time and budget restrictions prevented it from making it on the CD. It would have made a nice bonus track.

The liner notes, written by composer Wendy Carlos, offer interesting insight into the soundtrack, and are a good read. More information can be found at her web site.


If you enjoy the movie Tron, the soundtrack is well worth picking up. For that matter, if you're interested in filmmaking, it makes an interesting study on how well a soundtrack can be integrated into a film, if done with thought and consideration towards the film. Tron would not be the same film without it.


Track listing

Creation of Tron
Only Solutions (performed by Journey)
We've Got Company
Ring Game and Escape
Water, Music and TronAction
Tron Scherzo
Miracle and Magician
Magic Landings
Theme from Tron
1990's Theme (performed by Journey)
Love Theme
Tower Music - Let Us Pray
The Light Sailer
Sea of Simulation
A New Tron and the MCP
Ending Titles

Bonus Tracks

TronAction (original version)
Break In (for strings, flutes and celesta)
Anthem for Keyboard Solo

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