Nominated for Best Sound and Best Original Score at the 50th Academy Awards in 1978, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a cultural touchstone both in the science fiction genre and in sound design. This scene shows how the film’s aliens attempt to teach human scientists their language through use of light and sound emitted from their mothership. Their vocabulary can be boiled down to a basic 5-tone melody, one which weaves its way in and out of John Williams’ score throughout the film. Williams tried hundreds of combinations before settling on the sonic motif that would go down in cinematic history.
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