John Williams: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

21 August 2014, 22:38

Composer John Williams won two Grammy awards in 1979 for his soundtrack to this big-budget sci-fi spectacular.

Williams went from an iconic two-note motif in Jaws to an iconic five-note motif in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He reportedly had to compose around 350 five-note phrases before he and director Steven Spielberg settled on the famous one heard in the soundtrack to the 1977 sci-fi film (below). Well, you can't expect an alien race to use any old musical phrase to communicate with Earthlings. 

Eerie and haunting, it's a fitting soundtrack for a film exploring the life-changing encounter between an ordinary American man, played by Richard Dreyfuss, and a UFO. It's also another blinding success story from the dynamic movie duo.

Classic FM Apps

Get the Classic FM app for iPhone, iPad and Android - now with HD audio

Cat composer Alexander Livitsanos

This utterly adorable kitten is the ultimate distraction from work

chocolate bar musical taste

Can we guess your favourite chocolate bar from your favourite composer?

broken e-string violin

This clip captures the sheer horror of an E-string snapping halfway through a live radio broadcast