Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Score Sample: The Black Hole

So if you mention the name John Barry to a film score fan you'll probably hear about James Bond or Dances with Wolves, maybe even Out of Africa, The Lion in Winter or Somewhere in Time. But Barry actually scored a couple of science fiction films in the late 70s. I'm not sure if it is because he worked on Moonraker and that movie was a huge hit. Or maybe it was just the fact that Barry wrote some lovely orchestral scores over the years, and when John Williams brought orchestral scores back into vogue with Star Wars and Superman, guys like Barry were getting called on to handle science fiction.

In any case, Barry got to score the hilariously wonderfully bad space adventure Starcrash! I'm sure he made sure to mention that to all his friends. In 1979 he got a chance to work with my favorite electronic instrument - the Blaster Beam for the score to Disney's space adventure, The Black Hole. Barry's score is typical of his work at this time. It is very melodic, and has a slower pace that actually works great in the first half of the film, as mystery and tension is heightened. He creates a heroic theme that was used as the overture. But my favorite theme is the one he used for the power of the black hole. It is the Main Title and appears several times in the score. If you listen close you can hear the Blaster Beam working as the bass line. The strings creating a swirling effect and Barry keeps the pacing steady but relentless. Throw in some 1970s synths and you've got a classic main theme.


  1. The movie was a bit too Disney for my taste, but it's hard to fault the score. Who doesn't like a blaster beam?

    1. Yeah the movie has its faults, but the score isn't one of them. Barry actually gives the film a bit more heft than it probably would have. The Blaster Beam really had its heyday for about five years or so. 78 to 83. After that, we didn't really hear it again until this year with "10 Cloverfield Lane". Although Ben Burt used a very similar sound for the sonic mines in "Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones". I'm pretty sure it was a synth simulation and not the real beam.

  2. Roman,
    It's been awhile and maybe one day when I see it again I will feel differently.
    I'd like to see it on blu ray.

    But one of the things I do like about black hole by Disney is it does feel like a unique science fiction experience with their hand in it. It's kind of special in its own right and left a sizable impression that has lasted a long time.

    I enjoyed the theme not sure I know what the blaster beam was.ha

    1. Hey there sir! Good to hear from you again!

      I've got a review of "The Black Hole" coming up, so you'll be able to read my thoughts on it soon. The movie is very unique in that era of science fiction, that is for sure.

      Want to know more about the "Blaster Beam" check out my post about "Star Trek: the Motion Picture" and Jerry Goldsmith's masterpiece of film scoring. The Beam is the featured instrument in that score.