A couple of years ago, my roommate introduced me to the wonderful world of Firefly, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it changed my creative life forever.
It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, a delightful mishmash of genres that shouldn’t have worked but did — because of the heart in it, the soul, the chemistry amongst the impeccably assembled cast. Everything from the special effects to the lovingly crafted sets to the elaborate world-building is top-notch. If you haven’t watched this show, and its accompanying film, Serenity, you really, really must.
Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the show, at least for me, is the score. The music for both the television show Firefly (composed by Greg Edmonson) and the film Serenity (composed by David Newman) is full of just as much passion as every other element of the show. Like the storyworld they accompany, these scores combine Asian, western, and traditional science fiction elements to create a musical palette unlike any other. Whenever I listen to this music, I feel immediately comforted, like I’ve come home after being away for far too long.
Although Edmonson and Newman bring their own unique flavors to their scores, and it’s impossible to confuse the two, they are both utterly, unmistakably Firefly.
Check out these tracks:
“Main Theme” - This beautiful opening sequence showcases a theme song written by creator Joss Whedon himself. The lyrics are poignant, wistful, bittersweet, and perfectly set the tone for the score (and the show!) to come.
“Big Bar Fight” – For a prime example of Firefly‘s western flair, check out this track, accompanying — you guessed it — a bar fight in which people are thrown out holographic windows and our heroes are rescued by fake spaceship guns.
“The Funeral” – Although this music accompanies an extremely moving scene in the episode “The Message,” the real story behind this track is even more poignant. Edmonson wrote it as a farewell to the show after learning of its cancellation.
“Inara’s Suite” – The mysterious Companion Inara Serra is one of my favorite characters. I don’t think she’s one of the more popular characters with most fans, but I find her incredibly complex. If the show had had the life it deserves, the exploration of her character would, in my opinion, have been one of the most fascinating. This track is sumptuous, exotic, and, like Inara, seems to hold a secret sadness that we may never understand.
“Dying Ship/Naked Mal” – The opening of this track is solemn and elegiac, from my absolute favorite episode of Firefly, “Out of Gas.” The second half of the track is more cheerful, more tongue-in-cheek, and ends the album on a positive note, from a scene when we see — ahem — a good deal more of Nathan Fillion’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds than we have ever seen before.
The score for Serenity, as I previously mentioned, is in some ways very different from the Firefly score, and in other ways, obviously related. One unique thing that David Newman did for this score is omit the use of woodwinds. What we’re left with is brass, strings, percussion, and electronics, without any of the woodwind instruments’ characteristic warmth — an interesting choice for a story set in the cold black of outer space. But the presence of those trademark Firefly fiddles keeps the score accessible and familiar.
“Into the River” / “Escape” – The first two tracks of the score, “Into the River” and “Escape” accompany the film’s incredible prologue. “Into the River” is eerie and mysterious, as we get some insight into River Tam’s tormented past, and “Escape” is action-packed and suspenseful, accompanying a fantastic escape sequence that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
“Serenity” – This brief but incredible track gloriously showcases the theme for the ship herself, our beloved Serenity. She soars through the stars, a scrappy, inimitable, classy lady, the heart and soul that binds the Firefly characters together.
“Going for a Ride” – LOVE this track! As our heroes set out for yet another caper (which, unbeknownst to them, but fairly predictably for us, turns out to go…not so smoothly), this rollicking track gets their — and our — blood pumping. I especially enjoy the tender moment about three-quarters of the way through that accompanies the little longing glance Kaylee gives to the ever-oblivious Simon.
“River and Simon in Locker” – I really love what Newman did thematically for River in Serenity. Just as Edmonson did in Firefly, Newman creates an eerie yet innocent tone for our favorite…well…perhaps I shouldn’t say for the sake of those who haven’t seen the show. Let’s just say that River Tam is not what she first appears to be. ;)
“Run to Black” – There is some really fantastic action music in Serenity, and this track is one of them. If you sense tragic undertones…you’re dead on.
“Love” – This track is just absolutely lovely, and accompanies a wonderful moment between two of the most important members of the Serenity crew. “You know what the first rule of flying is? … Love.”
I can’t say enough wonderful things about this show, this movie, and the scores for each. There isn’t anything else like Firefly. It’s a truly special work of art, a world unlike any other and one that you will never, ever forget. Give it a try if you haven’t already, and if you’re a Browncoat and you don’t have these scores, what are you waiting for??