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

Good or evil music quiz

QUIZ: Should you use your musical talents for good or evil?

Midi unicorn

This guy drew a musical unicorn and it sounds MAGICAL

Organ stock photo

The 10 worst things about playing the organ