Monday, February 29, 2016

Alien (Goldsmith, 1979)

     Jerry Goldsmith's innovative score for Ridley Scott's "Alien" is easily one of his greatest works, despite the fact that it is probably his most "butchered" score (as heard in a film it was written to accompany).  Goldsmith was interested in creating an atmosphere of "mysterious space romance", and then transforming the atmosphere into one of suspense and action, with a few sequences of textural sound design on the way.  However, Scott and his editor ended up falling in love with the avant-garde sound design, and didn't care for the more melodic space opera flavors.  In fact, "Alien" is shot almost like a documentary for most of its scenes, and thus many dramatic cues were muted, or switched out for more ambient cues.  The other notorious problem with this production was that "atonal" music from a previous Goldsmith score, "Freud" was reused instead of the newly-written music (these Freud cues were used as temp tracks during editing).  Even worse, the Goldsmith's cues for the final climax and end credits were replaced by excerpts from a classical symphony, Howard Hanson's Symphony 2 (dubbed the "Romantic", ironically enough!).
     When the film came out in 1979, a soundtrack LP was also produced, and the music on this record was basically Goldsmith's music for "Alien", but mostly not how it was heard in the film.  If anything, the tracks on this album work almost like what in Japan is called a "symphonic suite" or "image" album, which is, respectively, a collection of rerecorded arrangements of original film cues, or newly-written music "inspired by" a film's images or themes.  In any case, when I first heard this album in 1979, I liked it well enough, but I frankly didn't quite feel like I was in the world of "Alien".

     Fortunately, in 2007 Intrada released the complete, originally-recorded score for Alien as well as revised cues, all of which was ultimately used as a "pool" of music from which the final film score was created.  The original 1979 LP was also remastered (reassembled) and put on a second disc.  Mike Matessino wrote excellent liner notes and analysis (as always), and so now one could follow a "what if" score with the film in mind.

      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.

     There are several melodic motifs which were used to create a dramatic arc in the originally-composed Alien score.  This arc was ruined in its actual presentation in the film, but worth keeping in mind while listening to the original score. The main motifs include:
  • 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).. 
     Below is a rundown mostly derived from Matessino's notes, but with more detailed, specific timings and more "simplified" terminology (for example, Mike refers to "whole tones" and "tri-tones" alot, but I just call that the "Stalking" motif and "clusters").  Below the listings for the 2-disc Intrada release, I assembled a "film sequence" table, listing all of the cue edits in the order that that they appear in the film, as well as the re-used music from other sources.

     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).
  • 0:00: The Nostromo floats in space (rising strings into slow metallic chords).
  • 0:35: Main theme on solo trumpet, ending in rising wind figure.
  • 1:05: Entry of Alien motif (5 note ver.) in brass, swelling brass/chords, dissonant swelling winds/strings.
  • 1:49: Alien motif (5 note ver.) picked up by horns under lush secondary theme in violins.
  • 2:02: Nostromo passes camera view (trumpet theme returns, leading to Alien motif (extended) in strings and low brass counter line).
  • 2:44: Camera moves to interior to the bridge (flutes play staccato Space motif: an even 2-note echoing motif over bass rumbling).
2 2:46 Hyper Sleep Unused, replaced by 2nd version (track 25).
  • 0:00: Lights activate, camera moves to hypersleep chambers (fragments of modulating Space motif on echoed flute over held strings).
  • 0:41: Sleep chambers begin to open, Kane wakes up (flutes speed up and rise, strings swell, modulating Alien motif in winds (5-note) alternating with flute figure, leading to trumpet main theme).
  • 1:46: Horns, then quiet trumpets pick up Alien motif.
  • 2:01: Segue into breakfast scene (bass pulses enter followed by more Alien motif material in winds).
3 4:31 The Landing Partially used (1:34-2:57 also retracked in Nostromo ascent sequence).
  • 0:00-0:14: Unused: The crew listen to the alien transmission and locate the source (soft textures becoming falling Space motif (legato "B" version)).
  • 0:15: The Nostromo approaches the planet and lands.  Bridge shots are intercut with exterior shots (and main theme) (Space motif joined by low string pulses, main theme on trumpet, then violins (0:24)).
  • 0:44-1:15: Unused ("B" Space motif, main theme in distant horns (0:57), falling Space motif variations).
  • 1:16: Nostromo begins refinery detach procedure (tremolo strings with main theme in oboe, then a string figure floats downwards).
  • 2:01-1:12: Unused: Nostromo detaches from refinery (fanfare from main theme).
  • 2:13: (Lush textures into main theme on violins/trumpets).
  • 2:53: Nostromo descends through heavy atmosphere (bass pulses, "tic-toc" variations of Space motif in winds, accented ornaments). 
  • 3:51: Unused to end: final landing (swirling strings, swooping/stabbing brass, brass Space motif. etc.).
4 2:21 The Terrain Unused, but 0:52-2:17 retracked in derelict egg hatchery exploration sequence.
  • 0:00: Alien sun rises (deleted scene) (brass/synth held chord).
  • 0:07: Crew journeys to the alien ship (low string pulses, Alien motif (3 note ver.) in a clarinet/horn dialogue (counterpointed), accents from strings and echoed marimba, steel drum, percussion).
  • 1:09: Alien derelict is sighted (swirling string glissandi, then previous figures resume (more steel drum echoes), ending in warm winds/celli).
    • "Let's get outta here."
    • "We've got this far, we must go on."
5 1:00 The Craft Unused, replaced by sections of The Passage and Main Title (2nd ver.).
  • 0:00: Dallas, Kane and Lambert enter the alien derelict (developed from previous cue (somewhat higher register textures), Alien motif on low winds/brass joined by cor anglais ornaments; steel drum echoes are replaced by echoed violins).
    • "Come on down here.  There's something different down here."
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).
  • 0:00: The explorers move through the derelict (echoed conch shell and aleatoric, high, "horror" violins,  with isolated fragments/variations of the Alien motif on alto flute and echoed, plucked bass (similar texture later used in 2nd version of the Main Title, T24; also reused for derelict approach and exploration)).
  • 1:20: Unused (Alien motif followed by fading, falling violins/echoed bass).
7 2:30 The Skeleton Partially used.
  • 0:00: The explorers find the Space Jockey (echoed violin/bass noise and bow slashes, then slow variation (using whole-tone scale) of Alien motif on flutes with harp accents, alternating with echoed bass plucks).
    • "Bones are bent he exploded from inside..." 
    • "Let's get the hell outta here."
  • 1:43: Kane finds the entrance to the egg hatchery (rising flutes, strings build to a dissonant cluster/climax over echoed flute accents (xylophone joins)).
  • 2:09: Unused: The team set up a device to lower Kane into the pit (texture builds to a climax).
8 2:35 A New Face Unused, replaced by sections of The Terrain (1st and 2nd ver.) and Main Title (2nd ver.).
  • 0:00: Kane is lowered into the egg hatchery cavern (high muted harp, echoed and pitch-shifted, eventually joined by plucked bass).
    • "It's full of leathery objects, like eggs or something... Wait a minute, there's movement."
  • 1:26: A Facehugger jumps on Kane's face (accent); Kane is retrieved and the Facehugger is discovered (deleted scene) (foreboding low figure pulses (Alien motif variation with subtle serpent), then harp/strings). 
  • 2:14: (Variation of the Alien motif on trumpet).
9 3:39 Hanging On Unused, replaced by 2nd version (track 28).
  • 0:00: Kane and the Facehugger are examined in sickbay (swells of serpent/conch/brass ending in accents featuring didgeridoo (Alien "rattle"), followed by a mysterious string/wind figure with whistling on top).
  • 0:53: The Facehugger tightens its grip on Kane's neck (accent); Kane is x-rayed; Dallas orders Ash to cut the Facehugger off (suspense textures, fragments of main theme on distant horn sometime surface, building string textures, serpent/didgeridoo joins, didg rattle with low string accents, sustained strings, serpent).
  • 3:03: The crew chase the acid blood burning through the decks (brass/strings action cue with hints of the Stalking motif (replaced in film by Freud: Main Title (0:00-1:20)).
10 1:05 The Lab Used as is, except for opening instance of rising/falling bass clarinet motif.
  • Camera pans over Kane with the Facehugger, and then to Ash acting suspiciously in his lab (blend of alternating serpent, low winds, flute, tenor/alto sax, echoed steel drum and plucked piano strings, rising/falling bass clarinet motif).
11 0:57 Drop Out Unused.
  • 0:00: The crew search for the Facehugger in Kane's room (Pacific conch/string drones, Alien motif on serpent/flutes (0:08), cricket-clicker/piano, muted low brass mouthpiece "palm pops" (0:33)).
  • 0:40: The Facehugger drops from the ceiling onto Ripley's head: (didg/brass/wind accents, string fade).
    • "This thing bled acid.  Who knows what it's gonna do when it's dead."
    • "I think it's safe to assume it isn't a zombie."
12 1:52 Nothing To Say Partially used (0:00-1:21 also retracked for when Dallas consults with "Mother").
  • 0:00-0:34: Unused: Immediately after Kane's death, the camera tracks through empty corridors (low suspense textures (with conch), wind machine, falling string gliss., cricket clicker).
  • 0:35: Kane's funeral (rhythmic brass, main theme on oboe, leading to poignant violin figure).
    • "Anybody want to say anything?"
  • 1:14: Kane's coffin is launched into space (wind machine, Japanese gong, ending with Space motif on flute/vibes (?) over bass pulses).
13 1:01 Cat Nip Mostly used in its entirety, but in an earlier sequence (when Ripley first gets readings).
  • 0:00: While looking for the baby alien, Ripley's team is surprised when Jones jumps out of a locker (rising/falling motif (from The Lab) over reverse Space motif on low piano string (harp-like rhythm), eventually low rumbling textures enter).
    • "Micro-changes in air density, my ass."
  • 0:49: Unused (climactic accent).
14 2:08 Here Kitty Partially used (0:00-0:55 also retracked for beginning of Ripley's fight with Ash).
  • 0:00: Unused: Brett looks for Jones (rising/falling wind motif over Space motif continues, briefly with "purring" echoed flute sound, then swelling textures/accents, rising/falling wind motif returns).
  • 1:32: The now-huge alien Xenomorph sneaks up on Brett (Alien "rattle" effect/rising/falling wind motif, building and increasing speed with pizz. violins, serpent, didg, conch, etc..., ending with hint of Stalking motif in low brass).
15 4:31 The Shaft Unused, replaced in film by Freud: Main Title/Desperate Case/Charcot's Show.
  • 0:00: Dallas hunts the alien Xenomorph in the air ducts (bursts of slowly growing atonal string textures, with low brass swells hinting at Alien/Stalking motif).
  • 2:18: The Xenomorph begins hunting the hunter (prepared marimba/tuba accents, soon joined by serpent, 8-beat Alien/Stalking motif begins appearing more and more often in low brass/low strings).
    • "What the hell's the matter with that box?" 
    • Are you sure that it's not there?  I mean, it's gotta be around there somewhere..."
  • 3:54: Dallas tries to escape (poignant strings and Alien/Stalking motif in 2 layers of brass (high & low)).
16 3:28 It's A Droid Partially used (first part replaced by beginning of Here Kitty).
  • 0:00: Unused: Ash attacks Ripley, and is revealed as a robot (accent, high percussion/string effects (harmonics/pizz/bridge bowing), tense brass/winds accents leading to pizz strings with Alien motif in violins and bass, a brass figure leads to climactic accent).
  • 1:11: Unused: Ash begins to go (more) haywire (swells joined by serpent drones, rising string/brass ornaments, and Alien motif in brass, followed by accents, leading to swirling strings and Alien motif in high wind (oboe?)).
  • 2:25: Parker knocks Ash's head off (high string effects, various brass accents and textures continuing from before, fading).
    • "It's a robot...  Ash is a goddamn robot!  Help me get this fucking thing off!"
  • 2:53: Unused (even string accents erupting into final action figures).
17 1:51 Parker's Death Partially used, partially replaced with Freud: The First Step.
  • 0:00: Unused: After the survivors decide to blow up the ship, Parker and Lambert collect supplies for the escape shuttle while Ripley searches for Jones (intercut with air-duct/alien scenes: opening accents) (Alien didg rattle with serpent moaning and a distant 2-note "hunting call", intercut with tremolo strings, eventually leading to a brief low brass cadence). 
    • "If we ain't outta here in 10 minutes we won't need no rocket to fly through space."
  • 0:34: The Xenomorph attacks Lambert and Parker (the serpent moan becomes a rhythmic "hooting" motif, low string/hooting rhythm, Stalking motif on low brass develops into swirling strings, hooting interludes, driving string rhythms, etc... (liner notes indicate didg, conch, serpent, sax and tuba)).
    • "Get ready to roll!"
18 2:24 The Eggs Unused (deleted scene).
  • 0:00: Ripley descends a ladder (similar to beginning of A New Face, muted pizz. strings (echoed/shifted), low strings join).
  • 1:14: Ripley discovers and torches the alien hive, and then looks for the emergency destruct panel (string clusters, moaning tones, Stalking motif (slow) in strings with low brass pulse and other accents).
19 1:04 Sleepy Alien Partially used.
  • 0:00: Unused: Xenomorph crouches in corridor, looking asleep (Alien rattle and muted brass featured).
  • 0:08: Ripley engages the self-destruct and tries to escape to the shuttle, but the Xenomorph blocks her path.  Ripley retreats, as the alien inspects Jones in his carrier (suspense accents, Alien rattle/muted brass resumes with accented string clusters (tritones), rising accent figures alternate with falling brass patterns).
  • 0:44: Unused: Ripley running POV (appearance of Stalking motif in strings over brass accents).
20 1:56 To Sleep Used as is.
  • 0:00: After the Nostromo explodes, Ripley is relieved that she has escaped the alien Xenomorph.  She puts Jones in a sleep chamber (slow 3-note Alien motif in low textures, with conch/serpent as background accent chords, Main theme gradually surfaces in flutes; eventually strings, cor anglais, trumpet join in main theme over more gentle strings).
    • "I got you, you son of a bitch."
21 3:05 The Cupboard Unused, replaced by 2nd version (track 29).
  • 0:00: Ripley sees the Xenomorph on the shuttle, retreats to a locker, intercut with shots of the Xenomorph (action suspense brass/serpent figures based on Stalking motif (with Alien rattling and hooting), intercut with high tremolo strings and rising piccolos, string noises (Ripley in the locker)).
  • 1:00: Ripley puts on a spacesuit, intercut with the Xenomorph extending it's inner jaw (percussive violin noises/high sounds, then subdued Stalking textures (windy howling, violin strumming, low strings), into pounding tension figures increasing in intensity, back to atmospheric string texture (soon with with low Stalking motif), tremolo winds join in, ending in high strings, Alien rattle and brass hooting).
    • "You are my lucky star...lucky lucky lucky omigod..." 
22 3:13 Out The Door Unused, replaced by 2nd ver. (track 30) and Howard Hanson's Symphony #2, 1st movement ending.
  • 0:00: Ripley shoots the Xenomorph out the airlock, but a tether holds it in place.  Ripley fires the thruster to kill the Xenomorph (Alien rattle under action figures based on fully-developed low brass Stalking motif over rhythmic low strings, then sweeping version with horns and trumpets, then back to low Stalking, anvils, etc. ending on brief fragment of Main theme in brass).
  • 1:32: Ripley makes her final log entry (Main theme gradually surfaces, strings become lush, leading to Space motif in high winds over high, relieved strings). 
23 3:09 End Title Unused, replaced by Howard Hanson's Symphony #2, 1st movement ending, Charles Gerhardt cond.
  • Credits (reprise of part of opening figure: dissonant strings leading to metallic chords, main theme on trumpet, Alien motif, B theme, etc…cello figures developed, then returning to main theme and ending in a regal cadence).
24 4:11 Main Title
(2nd ver.)
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).
  • 0:00: Empty space: (echoed conch shell and aleatoric high violin noises joined by bowed/strummed bass, with isolated fragments/variations of the Alien motif on alto flute and scattered underwater "suction cup" noises (brass palm pops?)).
  • 1:15: "ALIEN" slowly appears (triple tritone stacked chord (original Main Title rising strings opening figure), back to conch shell moaning, string noises, etc..).
  • 1:49: Nostromo appears in space (metallic chord, Alien motif in strings, alternating with strummed/echoed bass/high conch).
  • 2:17-2:42: Unused (string variation with strummed bass/flute hoots).
  • 2:43: Interior shots of empty ship (bass pulses/low string trills/staccato Space motif in echoed flute).
25 2:45 Hyper Sleep
(2nd ver.)
Mostly used (ending dropped).  Same as original but without trumpet main theme
  • 0:00: Lights activate, camera moves to hypersleep chambers (slow staccato Space motif on flute over held strings).
  • 0:41: Sleep chambers begin to open, Kane wakes up (flutes speed up and rise, leading to swirling strings, modulating Alien motif in winds (5 note) alternating with flute figure, low strings (Main theme on trumpet dropped)).
  • 1:46: Horns, then trumpets pick up Alien motif.
  • 2:01: Segue into breakfast scene (bass pulses enter)
  • 2:16: Unused: Alien motif in winds
26 0:58 The Terrain
(2nd ver.)
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.
  • 0:00: Alien sun rises (deleted scene) (drone texture).
  • 0:07: Crew journeys to the alien ship (low string pulses, high string drone, Alien motif (3 note ver.) in a flute/horn dialogue (counterpointed), bass clarinet ornaments).
27 2:31 The Skeleton
(2nd ver.)
Unused.  Slightly different orchestration featuring tuba, bassoon and steel drum, partially used for LP, also used for expanded cocoon sequence, but not for orig. film.
  • 0:00: The explorers find the Space Jockey (echoed violin/bass noise and bow slashes, then slow variation of Alien motif on tuba/bassoon with echoed steel drum accents, alternating with echoed bass strums).
  • 1:43: Kane finds the entrance to the egg hatchery (rising flutes, strings build to a dissonant cluster/climax over echoed flute/steel drum accents).
  • 2:09: The team sets up a device to lower Kane into the chamber (texture builds to a climax).
28 3:08 Hanging On
(2nd ver.)
Mostly used, but almost inaudible.  Beginning action is dialed way down from original (no Alien rattle, etc).
  • 0:00: Kane and the Facehugger are examined in sickbay by the autodoc (swells of conch shell and high, keening strings, followed by a slow, falling string/wind figure with distant whistling on top and low string accents).
  • 0:53: The Facehugger tightens its grip on Kane's neck (accent), Kane is X-rayed (high string noise with conch).
  • 0:58-1:08: Unused (conch/high strings cont'd).
  • 1:09: Dallas orders Ash to cut the Facehugger off (suspense strings/winds, whistling, low strings and other tense atmospheric textures, ending in a string swell (accent as acid blood appears)).
(rest of film sequence continues with Freud Main Title 0:00-1:20)
29 3:12 The Cupboard
(2nd ver.)
Partially used (only the music for shots of Ripley).
  • 0:00: Ripley sees the Xenomorph on the shuttle (rising tension accents in low strings, brass, etc).
  • 0:15: Ripley retreats to a locker (rising strings/piccolos).
  • 0:28-1:01: Unused: Xenomorph shot (suspense low strings/steel drum/serpent rhythm figure based on Stalking rhythm, string noise, Stalking, etc).
  • 1:01: Ripley puts on a spacesuit, intercut with Xenomorph extending it's inner jaw (percussive violin noises/high sounds, then subdued textures (windy howling, violin strumming, low sliding strings)).
  • 1:30-1:52: Unused: Xenomorph shot (pounding Stalking rhythm figures with wind figure (and "purr"), increasing in intensity, atmospheric string noise texture).
  • 1:52: Ripley finishes putting on the suit and loads her harpoon, slowly gets out (harp/tremolo wind chord, mixed sequence of Stalking motif in low strings, harp/tremolo winds, falling howling sound, some brass/oboe ornaments, ending in rising strings, conch echo).
30 3:02 Out The Door
(2nd ver.)
Only the first 20 seconds used.  Ending in this version also employs the Alien motif instead of the Space motif.
  • 0:00: Ripley shoots the Xenomorph out the airlock, but a tether holds it in place (fanfare based on 1st part of main theme, then serpent, timpani and tremolo strings featured on variation of Stalking motif).
  • 0:12: Xenomorph is hit with thruster fire (film version) (trumpet fanfare).
  • 0:21: Unused (replaced by Howard Hanson's Symphony #2, 1st movement ending) (Xenomorph struggles outside the shuttle (rising brass/tremolo strings, Stalking motif, churning strings, Stalking motif with anvil hits, triumphant Alien motif on brass).
  • 1:00: Alien destroyed, Ripley's final log entry, and Ripley in hypersleep chamber (Main theme eventually slowly surfaces in winds over hesitant strings becoming lush, some appearances of Alien motif in winds/harp near the end).

     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).
11 3:44 Main Title
(film version)
Film edit with additional echo processing, brief looped section cut.
12 2:34 The Skeleton
(alternate take)
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
(unused inserts)
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.

     Actual film usage sequence: Below is a listing of all the cue edits as they appear in the finished film, based on timing information in the Intrada booklet.  I think some of these are approximations, since in the final film the music fades in and out fairly often.  I supposes this is why a film's isolated score is not necessarily a great listening experience (see: "The Phantom Menace Ultimate Edition").
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)
     It's worth re-mentioning that this 2007 release from Intrada has great liner notes by Mike Matessino.  I presented some of the contents in annotated chart form above, but his track by track notes include statements from Goldsmith, Ridley Scott and the music editor (also included in this DVD special feature doc), as well as deeper analysis of some of the instrumentation and music theory.  Also, the Alien 20th Anniversary Edition DVD ("Alien Legacy") has 2 alternate "isolated score" audio tracks.  Unfortunately neither is a "true" isolated score.  One track has a mixture of original Goldsmith cues and retracked director edits, and the other is mostly stage sound from the set or isolated dialogue, with some instances of music (but often not score from the actual film sequence playing).  It's frankly totally confusing, but the bottom line is that no true isolated score has ever been released, and from a listening standpoint I don't think either of the 2 tracks really gives the listener an idea of either Goldsmith OR the director's intentions...  The stage sound is kind of interesting, though.  On some rainy day I may assemble some kind of isolated score using the edits in the table above...

Alien (2CD Set), Intrada 2007
Jerry Goldsmith's score to 'Alien' (YouTube doc)
Original LP on Spotify
Alien Score Wiki
Jerry Goldsmith Wiki
Alien Wiki


  1. Excellent article. I am a big fan of Goldsmith and especially this score. I wonder if you have had the opportunity to listen to the two isolated soundtracks on the Blu-Ray version of Alien. One approximates Goldsmith's vision - probably as best as could be done given the circumstances - while the other follows more closely the music Scott chose to use in the finished film (except it is silent during the sequences that used "Freud" music or Hanson)

    1. Thanks for your comment. I have the 20th Anniversary DVD which has the 2 tracks you mention. Interesting stuff. Neither is a "true" isolated score though, so someday I may just assemble one based on the timings listed above. It'll probably sound terrible ;)

    2. I pulled my 20th Anniversary DVD off the shelf and tried it out. Firstly, the "alternate" soundtrack is definitely different. There's none of the jarring production dialog in there. It is mostly made up of the alternate tracks on the second disc of the Intrada release.

      Secondly, the "isolated original" scores tracks on the DVD and Blu-ray are definitely different. Take for example the landing on the Alien planet: On the DVD the full 4:31 "The Landing" track is played pretty much as it was on the soundtrack album, with the visuals rarely matching the music. On the Blu-ray the track is edited to match the jumpy editing used in the final film. It even has to repeat a section of the track so that it ends where it was supposed to. It's really quite bizarre!

      All of the tracks on the Intrada release (except "The Eggs") appear on the Blu-ray isolated track, and their placement closely matches the descriptions in the CD liner notes. All things considered they did a pretty good job, certainly better than the 1999 release. If you do assemble a true isolated score, I'd like to hear it!

    3. Thanks for the info, maybe I should pick up the bluray one of these days... If I assemble an isolated score I'll try to post a reply here and put it on YouTube or something...

  2. Love the great track by track breakdown. If I may regarding track 17 1:51 Parker's Death "Get ready to roll!"

    I believe Parker's last dying words were "Get outa the room!" to Lambert.

  3. I enjoyed reading this breakdown of my favorite sci-fi/horror film and the Intrada set is a treasure. Nice work on this post!

  4. So, I know what Dallas' abduction in the shaft is scored with.
    The alternate version of Desperate Case included on the '09 Freud CD isn't it. I don't know if they misfiled and nobody caught it or if the original was destroyed or what, but the vinyl version of the track and its '94 CD rip are indeed the one heard in both films:

    I got the '94 CD a few months back, and I'm working on an edit as part of a larger Alien project. It's still not mixed properly, but I think I've got the actual edit itself just about squared away (albeit with a fill over the silence when Ripley asks "Dallas?"):

    This is an amazing resource! Thank you so much for being dedicated enough to compile this.