The day Herrmann’s score stood still

Bernard Herrmann’s score for Robert Wise’s The day the earth stood still (1950) is widely celebrated among film historians, and its use of theremins and other electronic instruments makes it the first large-scale electronic music composition in history.

Three considerations explain the perceived suspension of motion in the film’s opening title sequence: nullification of harmonic progress through polytonality, nullification of rhythmic pulse through polyrhythms, and  nullification of acoustical interaction through the use of electronic instruments and tape manipulations.

This accordting to “Suspended motion in the title scene from The day the earth stood still” by Stephen Husarik, an essay included in Sounds of the future: Essays on music in science fiction film (Jefferson: McFarland, 2010). Below, a colorized version of the sequence in question.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Film music, Mass media

3 responses to “The day Herrmann’s score stood still

  1. Pingback: Herrmann-induced vertigo | Bibliolore

  2. Pingback: Citizen Kane and the Isle of the Dead | Bibliolore

  3. Pingback: Cape Fear redux | Bibliolore

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