The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The music score for this fantastical space adventure was composed by Bernard Herrmann, and was his first Hollywood score after returning from a hiatus in New York. Possibly due to the quirky yet creative plot, Hermann decided on unusual instrumentation for the score: electric violin, electric cello, and electric bass, two theremins, two Hammond organs, a large electric organ, three vibraphones, two glockenspiels, marimba, tam-tam, 2 bass drums, 3 sets of timpani, two pianos, celesta, two harps, 1 horn, three trumpets, three trombones, and four tubas. Herrmann’s innovations included writing for unison organ, tuba, piano, and bass drum; staggered tritone movement, and theremin glissandos, as well as half-step dissonances and experimentation with overdubbing and tape-reversal techniques. The innovative score made a statement and created a new Hollywood sound that positioned Hermann immediately on the map as one of industry’s most sought-after composers.