The late Louis Barron
and his then-wife Bebe
created a unique score for the 1956 MGM film Forbidden Planet. Made up entirely of electronic tonalities generated by cybernetic circuits feeding back (many in their "death throes"), the music for the movie was as unearthly as anything ever heard in a Hollywood soundtrack up to that time (and for many years after as well), and captured perfectly the film's futuristic extraterrestrial setting and action. Despite their "unnatural" textures, the oscillations, pulses, beeps, wails, and electronic shrieks that make up this soundtrack are, indeed, very musical: they have distinctive patterns that evolve, shift, and change as the circuits creating them go through their "life cycles"; they interweave with each other; and they also occasionally match the action in the scenes to which they are attached. The latter element may tempt one to accuse the Barrons
of having "Mickey Moused" the soundtrack, to use a derisive term indicating music that slavishly mimicks action, but in this case they can be forgiven, allowing for the unearthly setting of the movie and the need to envelop the viewer. Additionally, the Barrons
were not members of the proper union to allow them to officially "score" a major studio film, and were credited with "tonalities" rather than music, which gave them considerably more freedom. Officially, they were creating a special film environment, not a film score, and succeeded so well that their work stands favorably on its own as a soundtrack.