From Jaws’ iconic two-note motif and the grand orchestral hit of the Star Wars title sequences… to the magical strings that instantly transport us to the most famous wizarding world… the sounds of the silver screen are just as – or sometimes more – memorable than the accompanying visuals.
A legend of composition
Everyone has their favourite scores: the ones that take you back to a moment in time, or conjure happy memories of childhood cinema trips. And when we asked our LinkedIn connections to share and vote on their most beloved original scores, certain films were picked out again and again.
It’s difficult to put into words just how much of an impact John Williams has had on film scoring – which makes it no surprise his work not only topped our poll, but was also mentioned more than any other composer. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back is widely considered to be one of the greatest film scores ever composed, and one of the best examples of character development through sound. It’s the first time we hear the now iconic ‘Imperial March’ (Darth Vader’s Theme), a piece of music that’s since become a pop culture phenomenon – and used to introduce any figure with the slightest of dark sides. But it’s also the first occasion Yoda’s Theme is heard, a gentle melody that reflects the power, control, and infinite wisdom of this much-loved character.
Williams is clearly a master of storytelling, and our voters also picked out the haunting Jaws theme, the powerful horns of Jurassic Park and the raw emotion built throughout the score of Schindler’s List as the movie music they’ve found most memorable.
Scoring in the modern era
Another Composer who needs no introduction is Hans Zimmer, who’s produced some of the most recognisable scores of the modern era – and led the charge for a new wave of electronic film music. The Dark Knight was the most popular of his in our poll, and is perhaps best known for the chilling ‘Joker Theme’ – a piece famously created by striking razors on a piano wire. Zimmer said he “wanted to write something people would truly hate”, and the feral, distorted strings effectively encapsulate both the Joker’s character and Heath Ledger’s performance through sound. This was the first of many Zimmer-Nolan collaborations that appeared in our list, with both Interstellar and Inception also being highlighted as spectacular scores that take centre stage in vast fictional worlds.
Following the results of our poll, the PHMG Music & Voice team has curated an extensive Spotify playlist with their picks of the most inspiring original film scores to date – featuring everything from Back To The Future to American Beauty. Click below to embark on a journey through some of the most memorable soundscapes of the silver screen.