Week 8: Electroacoustic Music in Film

This week I will be focusing on the topic of electroacoustic music in film. “Electroacoustic music originated in Western art music during the modern era following the incorporation of electric sound production into compositional practice.” Nowadays, we can find that almost every movie had using the electroacoustic music to be their background sound, especially for the science fiction movies, the abstract sound combines with the scenes always can maximized amplify the audiences’ imagination. That is the reason why if you take off the sound from a horror movie, it won’t be scared anymore. But, if you went though the history of the electroacoustic music, before World War II, there probably has no movies that are using the electroacoustic music. Here is the list of some movies that have electroacoustic music.

This is a scene from the Hollywood movie Spellbound by Hitchcock (1945). This movie uses a new sound, which is the electroacoustic music, to characterize the intension and the scary feeling. Dr. Samuel Hoffman performed this music on the theremin. “The score won an Oscar, and the theremin became immediately associated with Hollywood’s portrayals of the human psyche’s dark side.”


In 1951, the film The Day the Earth Stood Still also uses “the theremin’s sounds symbolized mysterious alien intelligence.”gort3

The Birds (1963), also by Hitchcock, in this movie,  composer Oskar Sala “created electronic bird sounds with his latest incarnation of the instrument, the Mixtur-Trautonium.”salahitch

More examples from the movie Rocketman (2007)

This is the scene of the “dressing room”, and sound by Martin Stig Andersen.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 下午3.30.43

Scene of the “satellite repair”, sounds like fixing some of the componentsScreen Shot 2015-03-02 at 下午3.31.41

Scene of the “Sergej’s death”, the sound of this scene is more like wind, space, and time, also the motion of the universe. Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 下午3.29.19

Today, the electroacoustic music already became a essential part for a movie, and we can say that the advanced music programs can produce any sound that all the instruments may make or not.




-Mengchun Tao


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