Sunday, March 9, 2014


Paramount Pictures music scoring Stage M.

In the last week a couple of posts I'd done on film and television composer Fred Steiner each had a pile of hits. They are...



This recent activity reminded and encouraged me to post something I've been meaning to do for a while now.

A few years ago Paramount Pictures closed one of their music scoring stages... Stage M. This particular hall of film music recording went way back, to the early 1930's, with upgrades and remodellings over the years, of course. Elmer Bernstein recorded his music for the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic The Ten Commandments in this studio, for example.

I first became aware of Stage M when I read an interview a few years ago with Mr. Steiner in regards to his music for the original Star Trek series. He mentioned that scores for that show's second and third season episodes were recorded there after Paramount Pictures owner Gulf + Western acquired Desilu Studios, the maker of Star Trek. (The series in effect 'moved' to the Paramount lot -- actually, since Desilu and Paramount were neighbours all that needed doing on a physical level was to remove the fence separating the two studio lots. Trek used Desilu shooting stages 9 and 10 [originally RKO stages], and since Paramount already had two studios with those numbers, "9" and "10" were eventually renumbered "31" and "32" in order to avoid duplication.) Fred Steiner explained that Star Trek's first season scores were typically recorded at Desilu's music scoring stage F.

The joke is that almost all the subsequent Trek feature films and television series' utilized Stage M for music recording; with the exception of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Composer Jerry Goldsmith wanted to use the grand pipe organ found at 20th Century Fox's music recording stage 1, so that pic's music was done at the competing film studio's facility. (That particular Fox music recording stage is now called "The Newman Stage", named after composer Alfred Newman.)

Fred Steiner and his fellow (original) Star Trek composers recorded music scoring magic within Stage M's four walls... and those of Desilu's Stage F. (Last year a friend of mine, while I was visiting him, played some tracks from the original series for my benefit. What struck me was how well performed and engineered the music recordings were. Exhilarating and powerful stuff.)

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