The story of Forbidden Planet's soundtrack


The soundtrack to Forbidden Planet (1956) was a milestone moment in the history of electronic music. It was the first entirely electronic film score, composed by Louis and Bebe Barron using DIY circuitry inspired in part by Norbert Wiener's 1948 book Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, a seminal text in its own right. At the time that the film's producer at MGM, Dore Schary, met the Barrons they were beatnik musicians hanging out in Greenwich Village. The soundtrack to Forbidden Planet continues to astonish even today. (Listen to the "Main Title" at left.) My friend Ken Hollings, author of the fantastic outré history book "Welcome to Mars," created a wonderful audio documentary that just aired on BBC Radio 3 about the Barrons and their iconic "electronic tonalities."

You can listen to the BBC Radio 3 piece here: "Sound of Cinema: Return of the Monster from the Id"

And you buy the soundtrack here: "Forbidden Planet: Original MGM Soundtrack

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  1. A quite interesting fact about the soundtrack: the composers, Louis and Bebe Barron, were not members of the musicians union, so they could only be credited with 'Electronic Tonalities', not the score or music. Also, the film was not considered for an Oscar for the soundtrack.

  2. Bloo says:

    "Commander, there's a problem with the robot!"
    "With the robot?! What is it?"
    "That's that big machine with the dome on top and the tracks on the bottom, but don't worry about that now.... "

  3. Shenanigans! Track #13 was recorded by Krell musicians a half a million years ago!

  4. Felton says:

    "Surely you can't be serious!"

  5. "I am. And don't call me Shirley."

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