1951 in Music

1. Bernard Herrmann: The Day the Earth Stood Still Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (10/10)

Though Herrmann definitely set the bar high for himself with Citizen Kane, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that he really stretched outside his comfort zone. (Herrmann had been doing radio music for years before Kane.)

Though the theremin had been used on a few scores in the 1940s by other composers, I’m not sure anyone had yet used it so distinctively, and this has to qualify as one of the most “electronic” of Hollywood film scores to date.

The opening is utterly fantastic, conjuring up another world in a way that a traditional orchestra never could. And that mood is maintained throughout the rather brief score. And this sound has become so much part of our movie DNA that it sounds utterly cliche at this point, but, honestly, I can’t think of too many movies before this one that featured such an otherworldly sound.

A true landmark in film score composition. Essential.

2. Thelonius Monk: Genius of Modern Music: Volume One (9?/10)


B.B. King: “She’s Dynamite” (7/10)

This is a strong, strident song that is basically R and B. I don’t know the original version but this is gritty and aggressive and surprising it wasn’t a hit.