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Soundtrax: Episode 2022-5
Special Edition: May, 2022

Feature Interview:

  • The STRANGE NEW WORLDS of Nami Melumad
    An Interview with the Latest STAR TREK Composer
    Interview by Randall D. Larson

Composer Nami Melumad’s score to the Star Trek episode, SHORT TREKS “Q&A” in 2019, led to her scoring the animated series STAR TREK: PRODIGY and now the new live action series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. The composer recorded the episodes with a full orchestra at the Warner Bros’ Eastwood Scoring Stage. Even through the challenging Covid-protocols of the scoring sessions, Malumed remained optimistic about the opportunity. “I’d like to thank my amazing team, who made this all possible. And a huge, huge thank you to the orchestra – I’m grateful for every each and one of you. Thank you for going boldly,” stated Melumad.

Nami Melumad is an Israeli-Dutch film composer based in Los Angeles, California. Her scoring credits include over 130 projects in a wide range of genres, most notably the HBO Max comedy, AN AMERICAN PICKLE, starring Seth Rogen, the Amazon thriller-drama series, ABSENTIA, starring Stana Katic, and EA’s VR video game MEDAL OF HONOR: ABOVE AND BEYOND. She also scored the Oscar® winning documentary short, COLETTE, and contributed music and arrangements to Amazon’s hit, BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM.

Nominated for Breakthrough Composer of the Year (2020) by the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA), Nami won the IFMCA Award for Best Original Score for a Video Game for MEDAL OF HONOR: ABOVE AND BEYOND, earned a Jerry Goldsmith Award Nomination for OVER THE WALL (2019), won the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for her work for PASSAGE (2018), as well as Best Score for a Short at Fimucité for LUMINARIAS in 2017 (out of 908 score entries) and Best Featurette Score at Idyllwild Festival of Cinema in 2017. She was also nominated for an HMMA for MISS ARIZONA (2018) and THIS DAY FORWARD (2017).Other films include SUBIRA, Kenya’s official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards, MORE BEAUTIFUL FOR HAVING BEEN BROKEN, and NOT YOUR SKIN, a documentary examining the issues of the transgender community through the stories of people who transitioned in different stages of their lives.

Nami serves as board member of the Alliance for Women Film Composers. An alumna of the prestigious ASCAP Film Scoring workshop, Nami completed the highly rigorous Scoring for Motion Pictures and TV program (SMPTV) at the University of Southern California and holds a B.A. in multi-style composition from the Jerusalem Academy of Music, where she was admitted directly to sophomore year.

Nami started her musical life as a pianist and a flute player, performing in orchestras and bands, and she also plays guitars, uke, and some clarinet. She is an enthusiastic Trekkie and an avid film fan but also enjoys oil painting, hiking, and having coffee with friends.

The eleventh Star Trek series, STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS was launched in 2022 as part of Alex Kurtzman's expanded Star Trek Universe. A spin-off from STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, it follows Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and the crew of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) in the 23rd century as they explore new worlds throughout the galaxy in the decade before STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES.

Q: You started out back in the late 2000s doing a variety of shorts, documentaries, TV movies and the like. What initially brought you into film music, professionally?

Nami Melumad: I fell in love with it really early on, with films like HOME ALONE that had great scores. I did not know who John Williams was at that time, but I knew the score, and there was a Dutch movie called DE TWEELING – the translation in English is “Twin Sisters” – and that had a really great orchestral score that also utilizes some jazz. The composer, Fons Merkies, took the main theme and created the jazz version for some of the score cues, and I was fascinated with how you can do that with music. So I learned how to play it on piano, and I also learned how to play LORD OF THE RINGS and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, all these kinds of movies, and I saw that I could do it. It was a long road to get to do what I do now, but I did a lot of scores for state films. I’m from Israel, and I did theater stuff – my first job out of high school was to do a show for children’s theater, and that was really cool. We got to see how music is part of a big story, with acting and directing and everyone contributing their talents for telling a story. I wrote songs before that and I wrote some instrumental music, so being part of something bigger felt really exciting, and I still feel that excitement today.

Q: Your first contribution to the STAR TREK world was with the SHORT TREKS episode “Q&A” – how did you get that assignment and what can you tell me about scoring it?

Nami Melumad: I got the assignment in 2019. I was working with Michael Giacchino on a movie called AN AMERICAN PICKLE, which was our first collaboration. I’m talking about it now like it’s not chill, but Oh My God, I’m so thrilled that it even happened! Every time I’ve worked with Michael, even today, I still feel very surreal, so I’m very honored because he’s one of my heroes. I grew up with his music. So we worked together on this film, and when they did the SHORT TREKS, Alex Kurtzman, who is the mega producer of the STAR TREK world, he wanted to try other things. They wanted to do something that followed up referencing some of the characters of DISCOVERY and they had this SHORT TREK, and Michael recommended me to do it. I took the shot and we did the score… the story was Spock’s first day on the Enterprise, and for me it was also my first day on the Enterprise! I did not know where this was going to lead, but eventually it led to me doing STAR TREK PRODIGY, which is the animation show for Nickelodeon and Paramount+.

After I did the pilot for PRODIGY, we had a Zoom call and there were a lot of notes from Alex Kurtzman. Literally, in the first ten minutes he was just talking about what needs to be different, and I’m thinking, Oh God, this is not going well! Then he had to leave the call for another engagement and we finished with the showrunners, but after I finished the call I got an email from Alex’s assistant and he wants me to hop back on the call. So I’m thinking, Oh no - more notes! But then he opened the call with “So, we have this show coming up, STRANGE NEW WORLDS,” and I’m like “Whew!” I guess he did like my work for PRODIGY because then he offered me to do the show, and I was absolutely thrilled. I wanted to do the show, basically, since before they’d officially announced it.

Q: On PRODIGY, how would you describe your thematic configuration for the series’?

Nami Melumad: For PRODIGY, they had six main characters, and then the ship. I would consider the Protostar a character, and it has its own theme. Then every one of the characters actually has their own theme, whether it’s a motif, theme, or a certain sound that aligns with them; sometimes it’s combined. It’s animation so I get to do a lot of colors and a lot of melodic choices that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to do in live action. There’s a lot of very quick transitions, but the animation really lends itself to music, so in that aspect it’s really fun and challenging. We have Dal the Captain, and Gwen – there’s a little bit of romance between them, it’s kind of suggested, nothing’s been proved or anything, but there’s also a theme between the two of them. Then there’s Janeway, and for her, in the eyes of the kids, she’s representing the Federation, so when holographic Janeway appears on the scene for the first time, this is what we call the “Federation Theme,” because that’s the representation of Star Fleet. And then when the real Admiral Janeway comes in, in episode ten, she has her own theme there. It’s been really fun to work on that – it’s not a continuation of Voyager but it’s a continuation of Admiral Janeway as a character. I listened a lot to the Jerry Goldsmith title music for Voyager, and I wanted something that reminds us of it, because we weren’t licensed to record his music, but offers a nostalgic emotion to Janeway and to Voyager.

Q: With PRODIGY, you had a main theme from Michael Giacchino. Here with STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS, you also have a main theme from a different composer, Jeff Russo. How did you work with that?

Nami Melumad: I have to say that’s not happening in the way it was in PRODIGY. Jeff had quoted Alexander Courage’s theme in his main title, and that’s actually the main part of it that I’m using. I have quoted the B-part of the Alexander Courage theme a few times, but it’s not super prominent, not in the way Michael Giacchino’s main theme was used on PRODIGY. There, the PRODIGY theme appears every time they have a victory or something. On STRANGE NEW WORLDS, not so much.

Q: What can you tell me about developing specific recurring themes for the characters in STRANGE NEW WORLDS?

Nami Melumad: For that, I was able to score a lot of new characters. We don’t really know Rebecca Romijn’s character [Una Chin-Riley; aka Number One]… we know who Uhura is but we don’t know how she got to become the Uhura that we all know from the original series. So this show is exploring how she grew into that character, and that presented a good musical opportunity for me. Whenever we’re on a backstory – Episode 2, for example, is all told from her perspective – and whenever we have episodes that are more character-based or focus on a certain character, then I can develop certain themes and motifs. So far we have the Captain Pike theme, which first appears when he rides on a horse at the beginning of episode 1, and that theme appears a lot whenever Pike is dealing with problems or his backstory. Then there’s Spock and T’Pring’s love theme, which is a recurring story so that will come back. Same for Una Chin-Riley, although a lot of it will be presented later on, and then chief medical office M’Benga has a whole storyline, which is followed by a theme for him. So these are the main characters which so far have themes – much later on there’s one for Nurse Chapel.

Q: How would you contrast the musical and stylistic needs of PRODIGY, which was designed for a relatively younger audience, with the more mature concepts of STRANGE NEW WORLDS?

Nami Melumad: With PRODIGY the transitions are so quick that we can tell a story in 22 minutes. With STRANGE NEW WORLDS, we tell the story in fifty minutes, so there’s a condensity in PRODIGY so you have to be fast in moving the emotion and bringing in what needs to happen and tell the story with really quick moves. That’s reflected in the pace of the music and the tone of the music. It’s also recorded with a completely different ensemble. With PRODIGY we have as many as 64 musicians, so it’s a larger orchestra than STRANGE NEW WORLDS. In STRANGE NEW WORLDS sometimes we can linger longer on scenes or on dilemma or ethical issues because it’s going back to the original STAR TREK, where we look at other societies, we look at aliens’ habits or what they’re doing there, but it’s really about us and what’s happening on Earth that is reflected. It’s about conflicts and certain things that are already happening here, in our present – so there’s a lot of values, a lot of drama and hope that we as humans have experienced through this exploration in space. STAR TREK is also about exploring our human nature and our relationships. While this is happening on PRODIGY as well, it’s not as focused on that. With PRODIGY, there’s just a big arc to it; it’s for younger audiences, as you were saying, and we can’t indulge in big issues. STRANGE NEW WORLDS is totally going for that with all its might! I love that, and it allows me, with music, to deal with that in a little more depth. I can stay on the scene, or I can come back to that situation later in a future episode in a more developed way; so there’s a lot of opportunity to develop the music or create variations of themes. This show will go into a lot of darker places, much darker than PRODIGY. We recorded at Warner Brothers with 37 musicians, so this is actually a smaller orchestra.

Q: What unusual instruments or sounds were you able to develop for the series?

Nami Melumad: There’s obviously some synths because it’s STAR TREK and we get to do that! There’s other things that also require really strange sounds, although it is still heavily orchestral. I was hoping to do things that would evoke the style of the previous STAR TREK composers, who were and are amazing, and I’m definitely influenced by their work. Jerry Goldsmith, that’s all orchestral music, Michael Giacchino’s music is mainly orchestral, and so I wanted to carry that tradition and have the feel that this is almost like a movie. I treat every episode like a movie because each 50 minutes is a particular story. So with that in mind, there’s a lot of music for bass flutes – I happen to like the flutes! There’s also quite a lot of English horn, and I love piccolo – a piccolo in the lower octaves has a really nice sound to it. There’s a lot of harp also, and then some piano. I have to say, regarding the piano, from the start they also wanted something that didn’t sound like typical STAR TREK, so piano would offer a new kind of rhythm and mood. I liked that idea, actually. We do go into the horns and everything, so we still have a STAR TREK feel, but sometimes we’ll add in that piano, which I like.

Q: Now, you’ve also recently scored the series THE WOMAN IN THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW. What can you tell me about scoring this project?

Nami Melumad: This was very fun. It’s really different than anything else I’ve done. It’s a super dark comedy, and it basically makes fun of thriller films like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. It’s totally making fun of that. It was really a different experience, but I got to do the same thing as I do here: I tell the story in whatever means I have to tell it. This score has a very different tone from the other scores I’ve done. Basically it jumps through some genres very quickly, so there’s comedy and romance, sweeping strings, and a lot of detective kind of music for Anna, the main character, who is self-appointing herself to solve a mystery. The music always stays serious, so I’m playing it very straight, no matter how funny or ridiculous the situation is; if the music is playing it straight, then it’s funnier because there is a contradiction in what is going on. So in order to sell that feeling of “are they for real?” you want to be as hard as you can with the music, even horror stuff, and some times it was hard not to laugh when I was working on that because some of it was so funny. It was really great to do it.

Special thanks to Ray Costa and Marygrace Oglesby of Costa Communications, Inc. for facilitating this interview, and to Nami Malumed for the enthusiasm and skill she brings to her music.

For more information on Nami, see her website

This interview is lightly edited for clarification.


Randall D. Larson was for many years publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: 100+ Years of Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror Film Music and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes more than 300 soundtrack CDs. He can be contacted via or follow Musique Fantastique on Facebook.

Follow Randall on Twitter at and

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance.