This week I want to share a piece of film music, the sound track to the 1957 film “Forbidden Planet.” I think film music has a lot to offer in advancing a mixture of weird sounds and more digestible pleasantries. In this case however, the contribution is almost entirely for the weird ear.
1956 was a year when electronic music was still in its infancy, if not embryonic. Sure, there were some artists, musicians, and scientists who really spearheaded the use of electronic instruments in film and music. The 1945 billy wilder classic, The lost Weekend, for example, included a theramin in the score. While initially this move by composer Miklos Rosza was met with opposition by producers and studio executives, the movie went on to win an academy award. It is no question that the dark mood was achieved with the help of the theremin.
The score for Forbidden Planet, however, is incomparable in its use of electronics. The couple Luis and bebe Barron use home made electronic circuits and a “ring modulator” to create the sounds for the score. This was some years before the invention of the moog. Very ahead of its time and I think very strange for a major Hollywood studio to use two beatniks to score a major film.
In any case, this movie and score are available on youtube and I encourage you to check it out sometime, if you haven’t already.