Dramatic Vocalise Database

Carlos, Wendy (b. 1939)

TRON (1982)

Gradually the use of dramatic vocalization in science fiction expanded. In the score to TRON (1982) by classically-trained composer Wendy Carlos (b. 1939), famous for her groundbreaking album Switched-on Bach, dramatic vocalization is used to great effect to signify the supernatural. In this movie Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a former employee of the software corporation ENCOM, tries to hack into ENCOM’s mainframe computer to find evidence that senior executive Ed Dillinger (David Warner) stole four video games he created. Dillinger’s evil “Master Control Program” (MCP) catches Flynn and converts him into data, digitizing him into the computer realm itself where computer programs are the alter egos of their creators. With help from TRON (Bruce Boxleitner), a heroic and fearless security program, Flynn sets out destroy the MCP and help TRON liberate the system from its control.

Wendy Carlos was able to take advantage of the dramatic situations in this movie by using well-worn applications of dramatic vocalization, presenting them within a new, futuristic context, but with the same historical associations. Two scenes in particular illustrate this. In the first, the program TRON speaks with his user Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner). The programs, which perceive their users as deities, only hear their user’s voice, like a voice from above. To reinforce this numinous representation, dramatic vocalization accompanies their interaction, signifying the supernatural communication between different entities and underlining how programs view their users.

In the second scene to include dramatic vocalization, after the defeat of the MCP, the landscape of the electronic world turns from neon red to neon blue; goodness is restored; and at the end of the scene Flynn is miraculously returned to the world of humans. Dramatic vocalization signifies this supernatural transformation.

(Nauman 2009, 253–54)



TRON speaks with Alan-1

The program TRON speaks with his user Alan-1. Supernatural communication between worlds, like the voice of God. TRON’s data disc, after being written on by his user, is much like the tablets in The Ten Commandments.


After the defeat of the evil MCP (Master Control Program), the electronic world turns from neon red to neon blue. Goodness is restored. At the end of the scene Flynn is miraculously returned to the world of humans. The wordless chorus signifies this supernatural transformation, both of the computer world, and also Flynn’s transubstantiation.

Ending Credits

Following a restatement of the main theme from TRON—including wordless chorus—Journey’s song “Only Solutions” takes the credits to their end.