The score for Alien has some very unusual instrumentation and effects, most of which were designed to evoke either the alien planet, or the alien "Xenomorph" itself:
- Conch shell: Usually low blowing sound, like a contrabass flute, evoking alien winds and used for outdoor scenes on the alien planet.
- Didgeridoo: Used for when the alien Xenomorph appears.
- Serpent: A wood horn with a brass mouthpiece, used for when the alien Xenomorph appears.
- Alien "rattle": First appears about 5 seconds into Hanging On (track 9), I think this is from didgeridoo, but with effects. Sounds like someone blowing their nose sometimes. Also used for when the alien Xenomorph appears.
- Echoplex (delay): Echo effect used on strummed violins and basses for scenes inside the derelict alien ship.
- Pitch-shifting: Electronic effect used on strummed muted harp and violin for the egg chamber scene, but mostly not heard in the film (probably just too weird).
- Aleatoric violins: basically "randomly" playing the highest notes possible on the violin, creating a kind of hissing noise, often bouncing the bow on the string as well.
- Main theme: first heard on trumpet at 0:35 in the original Main Title, this melody starts with 3 rising notes, and seems to represent humanity.
- Space motif: A 2-note idea in even rhythm, either staccato or legato. This reminds me of the beginning of Holst's "Saturn" a little. Pretty atmospheric and cold.
- Alien motif: A long note followed by a short note, then jumping back to the original note, basically similar to the Space motif, but "irregular" (syncopated over an even meter), can be anywhere from 3 to 9 beats, but using just 2 or 3 notes. This motif feels inhuman, but neither good nor bad.
- Stalking motif: Developed from the Alien motif (just as the Xenomorph is developed from the Facehugger!), and usually on low brass, it is based on just 2 or 3 pitches in triplets (6/8), and has a clearly sinister quality (such as in Out the Door)..
Disc One features the score as originally composed and recorded by Jerry Goldsmith when viewing an early cut of the film. Tracks 24-30 are revised versions of cues based on suggestions from the director and music editor. These cues were either shifted, edited, replaced or totally unused in the final film, as described previously.
|Trk||Dur||Title||Original score and scenes they were written for, Music analysis|
|1||4:12||Main Title||Unused, replaced by 2nd
version (track 24).
|2||2:46||Hyper Sleep||Unused, replaced by 2nd
version (track 25).
|3||4:31||The Landing||Partially used (1:34-2:57 also
retracked in Nostromo ascent sequence).
|4||2:21||The Terrain||Unused, but 0:52-2:17 retracked in derelict egg hatchery exploration sequence.
|5||1:00||The Craft||Unused, replaced by sections of
The Passage and Main Title (2nd ver.).
|6||1:49||The Passage||Partially used (also retracked
for The Craft and high strings looped for when Ripley puts Jones in his cat
carrier near the end).
|7||2:30||The Skeleton||Partially used.
|8||2:35||A New Face||Unused, replaced by sections of
The Terrain (1st and 2nd ver.) and Main Title (2nd ver.).
|9||3:39||Hanging On||Unused, replaced by 2nd
version (track 28).
|10||1:05||The Lab||Used as is, except for opening instance of rising/falling bass clarinet motif.
|12||1:52||Nothing To Say||Partially used (0:00-1:21 also
retracked for when Dallas consults with "Mother").
|13||1:01||Cat Nip||Mostly used in its entirety, but in an earlier sequence (when Ripley first gets readings).
|14||2:08||Here Kitty||Partially used (0:00-0:55 also
retracked for beginning of Ripley's fight with Ash).
|15||4:31||The Shaft||Unused, replaced in film by
Freud: Main Title/Desperate Case/Charcot's Show.
|16||3:28||It's A Droid||Partially used (first part
replaced by beginning of Here Kitty).
|17||1:51||Parker's Death||Partially used, partially replaced with Freud: The First Step.
|18||2:24||The Eggs||Unused (deleted scene).
|19||1:04||Sleepy Alien||Partially used.
|20||1:56||To Sleep||Used as is.
|21||3:05||The Cupboard||Unused, replaced by 2nd
version (track 29).
|22||3:13||Out The Door||Unused, replaced by 2nd ver. (track 30) and
Howard Hanson's Symphony #2, 1st movement ending.
|23||3:09||End Title||Unused, replaced by Howard
Hanson's Symphony #2, 1st movement ending, Charles Gerhardt cond.
|Partially used (also retracked in 6 fragments for derelict approach and egg chamber sequences: 0:00-0:52, 1:05-1:15,
0:23-0:30, 0:40-0:43, 1:51-3:58, 2:57-4:02).
|Mostly used (ending dropped). Same as original but without trumpet main
|Unused, but 0:43-0:53 used as a
retracked moment when Kane descends into the hatchery. In this version, flute
replaces clarinet from original.
|Unused. Slightly different orchestration featuring tuba, bassoon and steel drum,
partially used for LP, also used for expanded cocoon sequence, but not for
|Mostly used, but almost inaudible. Beginning action is dialed way down from
original (no Alien rattle, etc).
|Partially used (only the music
for shots of Ripley).
|30||3:02||Out The Door
|Only the first 20 seconds used. Ending in this version also employs the Alien motif instead of the Space motif.
Disc Two features the original 1979 LP in the first 10 tracks, followed by "behind the scenes" bonus tracks. Most importantly, it features the "film version" of the Main Titles in track 11.
|1||3:37||Main Title||Main Title (orig. w shortened ending).|
|2||2:36||The Face Hugger||Created from edits of Hanging On, Parker's Death (from 0:55).|
|3||3:03||Breakaway||Out the Door (shortened ending).|
|4||4:40||Acid Test||Created from edits of Out the Door (2nd ver.), Hanging On (2nd ver.)(at 1:21), Hanging On (at 2:10).|
|5||4:32||The Landing||The Landing (original version, same as on Disc One).|
|6||4:44||The Droid||Created from edits of It's A Droid, Nothing to Say (at 2:57).|
|7||2:50||The Recovery||Created from edits of Sleepy Alien, To Sleep (at 0:56).|
|8||2:31||The Alien Planet||Crossfade from The Skeleton (2nd ver.) to The Skeleton (orig. ver.).|
|9||4:01||The Shaft||The Shaft (shortened beginning and ending).|
|10||3:09||End Title||End Title (original version, same as on Disc One).|
|Film edit with additional echo processing, brief looped section cut.|
|Unused original version 1st take, with no end crescendo.|
|13||1:54||The Passage (demonstration excerpt)||Version without echo processing: featuring "raw" conch/high aleatoric strings/percussion.|
|14||1:09||Hanging On (demonstration excerpt)||Demo of Hanging On (opening): featuring serpent, didgeridoo, whistling.|
|15||1:08||Parker's Death (demonstration excerpt)||Demo of Parker's Death featuring serpent, didgeridoo, conch, perc. (without orchestra).|
|16||1:28||It's A Droid
|Recording inserts for It's A Droid, studio sessions.|
|17||1:50||Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart source)||0:27-1:09 source music used in film during Dallas' relaxation.|
|1||Main Title 2nd ver. (T24: 0:00-2:16, 2:43-4:10)|
|2||Hyper Sleep 2nd ver. (T25: 0:00-2:15)|
|3||The Landing (T3: 0:15-0:43, 1:16-2:00, 2:13-3:50)|
|4||Main Title 2nd ver. (T24: 0:00-0:52, 1:05-1:15, 0:23-0:30, 0:40-0:43, 1:51-3:58)|
|5||The Passage (T6: 0:00-1:19)|
|6||The Skeleton (T7: 0:00-2:08)|
|7||The Terrain 1st ver (T4: 0:52-2:17), The Terrain 2nd ver. (T26: 0:43-0:53), Main Title 2nd ver. (T24: 2:57-4:02) (egg hatchery scene)|
|8||Hanging On 2nd ver. (T28: 0:00-0:57, 1:09-3:05)|
|9||Freud: Main Title (0:00-1:20) (acid blood scene)|
|10||The Lab (T10: all), Mozart "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"|
|11||The Landing (T3: 1:34-2:57) (ascent scene)|
|12||Nothing To Say (T12: 0:35-1:48)|
|13||Cat Nip (T13: 0:00-0:48)|
|14||Here, Kitty (T14: 1:33-2:04)|
|15||Nothing To Say (T12: 0:00-1:21) (Dallas consulting "Mother" scene)|
|16||Freud: Main Title (1:48-3:21)/Desperate Case (0:00-1:49)/Charcot's Show (2:14-2:50)/(?) (Dallas in the shaft)|
|17||Here Kitty (T14: 0:00-0:55) (Ash attack pt 1)|
|18||It's A Droid (T16: 2:25-2:52)|
|19||Freud: The First Step (0:00-0:54), high strings loop from The Passage (T6) (Ripley gets Jones in his cage)|
|20||Parker's Death (T17: 0:41-1:48)|
|21||Sleepy Alien (T19: 0:08-0:39)|
|22||To Sleep (T20: all)|
|23||The Cupboard 2nd ver. (T29: 0:00-0:27, 1:02-1:29, 1:53-3:09)|
|24||Out The Door 2nd ver. (T30: 0:00-0:20)|
|25||Howard Hanson's Symphony #2, 1st movement (final log and end credits)|
Alien (2CD Set), Intrada 2007
Jerry Goldsmith's score to 'Alien' (YouTube doc)
Original LP on Spotify
Alien Score Wiki
Jerry Goldsmith Wiki