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In Alien: Covenant (2017), there is a scene in which David is playing a song with a flute/recorder, as an elegy to Elizabeth Shaw.

Through some characterisation and exposition, we learn that David, unlike Walter, can create and compose, implying that this elegy is an original piece by him.

How is it possible that the melody he composes is identical to the melody in Prometheus (2012)'s theme soundtrack (song name Life)?

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    Does the Alien franch establish that this is "our" universe? If not, I don't see how it really matters, because this Easter Egg of using the soundtrack in-universe is something that may not exist in-universe prior to David creating it. It just exists for the viewer in two ways. In any case it's about theme, but I don't think it is being taken as far as BSG with All Along the Watchtower as that's not just a wink to something, but it's a metaphysical concept and implies how Bob Dylan comes to know the song, It's something in BSG mythos that is coming from "somewhere else" and being passed along. – Darth Locke Nov 26 '18 at 14:38
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How is it possible that the melody he composes is identical to the melody in Prometheus (2012)'s theme soundtrack (song name Life)?

Actually, we should turn that question around: why do you think it's impossible?

If there is no proof of something being impossible, then it must logically be possible. Please do note that "possible" does not mean the same thing as "likely" or "expected".
Many stories revolve around the fact that something possible-but-improbable happens. Some random examples:

  • Someone shoots a bullet, it deflects and bounces around and ends up killing the shooter. That is obviously a one-in-a-million shot, but it would be wrong to say that it is impossible to ever happen.
  • A hero jumps out of a moving vehicle (at high speed). It's very likely that he gets hurt. However, it's not impossible that he manages to walk away from it. It's just very unlikely.

It would be wrong to call these plot holes or movie mistakes. It would only be a movie mistake if you can prove that it couldn't have happened (= proving that it is impossible).
E.g. the bullet reflected off of a piece of paper (impossible!), or the hero jumped out of a car and smacked face first into a concrete wall (impossible to walk that off!)


A bit more specific to your case, I can think of another example.

In Battlestar Galactica (the 2003 remake), Anders suddenly remembers a song that he himself had written. This song is "All Along The Watchtower", released by Bob Dylan and covered many times, most notably by Jimi Hendrix. However, there is no relation between the in-universe song and the out-of-universe song.

The song's out-of-universe existence does not impact the plot in any way.

However, BSG's premise heavily relies on the implication that "all of this has happened, and will happen again" (it might be slightly different the next time, but it boils down to the same principle).
Because All Along The Watchtower has been covered so many times; you can see the same premise occur in that song: it has been repeated many times, with slightly different version, but it ends up being the same song with the same lyrics.

That is a thematical connection that has no bearing on the in-universe plot, it is merely an easter egg for the viewers.

Conclusion

The same seems to be true for Alien Covenant. This song is original in-universe, even though it isn't original out-of-universe. The fact that it isn't original out-of-universe has zero impact on the plot, and is therefore irrelevant in-universe.

Unless a connection is made between the two, there is no reason to assume that this is done for any reason other than an easter egg or quick nod to the viewers.

If I extend the principle behind your question, I can show you some clear examples why your question's implied logic is inherently flawed:

  • How is it possible that people in Middle Earth have swords, when Middle Earth is not our world?
  • How is it possible that Let It Go is popular on Spotify, when it is originally sung by a fictional character in a movie?

The answer to these examples is the same as your question:
Just because one of the universes (fictional/real) has done something, doesn't make it impossible for the other universe (real/fictional) to do the same thing for a completely different and unrelated reason.

  • Actually, my phrasing is just another way of saying "What's up with–". I adore your deconstruction of the logic in my question, and do appreciate it, it's just that I think it's getting hung up on something not worth that much time or attention. The essence of my question is after an explanation for this connection between the in-universe elegy's melody, and out-of-universe soundtrack to a movie that contains one of the characters who composed the aforementioned melody. – Ghoti and Chips Aug 2 '17 at 11:44
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    Just as an extension: in the shower scene (Alien: Covenant (2017)), they are playing Paolo Nutini - Let me Down Easy, a 2014 song, and prior to that, in the movie, they reference a 1971 song, 'Take me Home, Country Roads' by John Denver. It's a reasonable assumption that the Prometheus universe takes place in a universe practically identical to our non-fictional one, but it diverges somewhere in the near future, notably with technological advances and companies like Weyland Yutani etc. What they didn't have is a movie called Prometheus with .. – Ghoti and Chips Aug 2 '17 at 11:51
  • ..continued.. that sountrack Life, so it seems absurdly coincidental that, in-universe, David would compose a melody that coincides identically with that of an out-of-universe track. I'm merely after an explanation, rather than being told that it is technically, logically possible. – Ghoti and Chips Aug 2 '17 at 11:52
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    @GhotiandChips "I'm merely after an explanation, rather than being told that it is technically, logically possible." Easter eggs are a (possible) explanation; but easter eggs are inherently not explicitly confirmed, since that would defeat the purpose of an easter egg (a hidden reference). Easter eggs can only be revealed by being aware of the connection that is made (in your case the fact that the song existed before the movie), and your question inherently showcases the connection (with no plot relevance) that would prove the existence of the easter egg. – Flater Aug 2 '17 at 12:19
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    It's more that I don't find "It's not technically impossible" a satisfying answer, even if I can appreciate the Easter-egg/nod nature of it. I suppose a pedant's observation should be met with a pedantic response. – Ghoti and Chips Aug 2 '17 at 12:58
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You have to think of the context where the song was last heard, it played while David observed the Engineers Orrey. And stopped once the projection stopped. Even when David appears at the engineers planet there is a trumpeted fanfare which is part of "Life."

We cannot say the song did not exist in the universe of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, only David and the engineers presumably have heard the tune.

About that scene: The Orrey was based on "The Philosopher Lecturing On The Orrey" by Joseph Wright of Derby. A painting highlighting and romanticising the age of enlightenment, when science and fact based beliefs started to rise to prominence over Christian values and beliefs.

Even the art style chiroscuro was previously reserved for the depictions of Christian stories or Greek Gods.

In Advent David discovered that Shaw's DNA/Human DNA unlocked special properties with the mutagen and helped in developing the perfect organism. To me David's elegy for Elizabeth may be a sign of the discovery made when experimenting on her, just like the discovery of the Orrey. New worlds and opportunities to learn. The tune is not original, but a copy. Like most of the Easter eggs in Alien: Covenant.

May be far fetched thought process, but I have analysed both movies quite in depth. This is just my opinion.

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Actually, it is out of universe.

For those that follow Star Trek: ST-NG-S06E-21: Picard follows his love into a new area, where both play this tune, not quite this tune, but the tune is based upon that "folk tune". Check for yourself.

I believe the creator made a wink to this episode for some reason, leaving an western egg, if you like.

I already noticed this in the first movie, but I was uncertain until I heard the flute version played by David.

  • No one is saying that the tune isn't 'out of universe' or speculating about the origin of the tune. The question is asking how David, in-universe can play the tune. – iandotkelly Feb 5 at 14:07
  • @iandotkelly I respectfully disagree. The question is asking how a character in one film can play the [out-of-universe] soundtrack from another in the same franchise, meaning the Q is asking about it's metaficitonal context. So although I agree this answer doesn't help to really answer it in terms of why the character knows how to play it, we do need to know if the tune ever existed in universe or not prior, to establish if the character is the original in-universe composer or not. – Darth Locke Feb 5 at 14:41
  • @DarthLocke ... so you're saying that the point that its a Star Trek tune, and Star Trek (like Lawrence of Arabia) could be in the history of this world. I could buy that. In which case the answer should say ... "Actually it could be in universe (for these reasons).".. Rather than "it is out of universe". – iandotkelly Feb 5 at 14:58
  • The answer as it stands today just reinforces that the tune exists in our universe and points out that it might be an easter egg. – iandotkelly Feb 5 at 15:00
  • I'm just saying that even though this may prove to be an additional related easter egg, doesn't necessarily negate that the tune could still be "in-universe" for the [prequel] Alien franchise. That's not to say what you just said also couldn't work/be an answer. It's just so far there doesn't seem to be evidence to prove if the tune existed in-universe prior to David playing it, helping us to rule out what kind of easter egg it actually is. Just how deep seated is it? – Darth Locke Feb 5 at 15:42

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