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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… 2001: A Space Odyssey OST. December 1, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Almost inevitably one has to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and how better than pointing to the official sound track – now oddly difficult to get except at incredibly inflated prices. I’ve the vinyl album, not a great pressing it has to be said, or perhaps it wasn’t in great condition when I purchased it second hand years back. But then in the intervening years I can’t say I’ve played it that often. It’s music to be admired more than loved.

I do like the main theme, by Strauss – and even its ubiquity over the last fifty years and the bombastic nature of the composition falls away when placed in context with Kubrick’s visuals. The choral pieces composed by György Ligeti were a master stroke (one wonders what Ligeti thought of their use). The old question, how to score space musically in a sense put to one side in favour of eerieness. Not for Kubrick electronic music, though it’s an interesting thought experiment to wonder whether he would have gone that route if the film had been made five years later – certainly, and was this in a way a response to 2001, the scoring of science fiction tended to see electronics afforded a more and more prominent position.

In any case Kubrick probably wouldn’t much like the comparison, or then again perhaps he would, but those massed choirs serve the same function as the theremin did in the science fiction films of a decade earlier, indicating eeriness.

Another master stroke was the selection of the Blue Danube as the music when the PAN AM space plane approaches Space Station One. The contrast with the choirs is marked – indicating a humanity, and human achievement, that is at odds both with the monolith and with the oddly emotionless characters who we see in this part of the film. And this is followed through by the use of Khachaturian’s Gayane Ballet Suite. Of course a cynic might argue that by selecting classical pieces Kubrick was deliberately framing 2001 as something very distinctly different to science fiction films that had been made prior to this.

Note too that all the above is contextualised in reference to the film itself, and I think that this is one official sound track that works best in the context of the film as cultural artefact and less well as a body of music.

Mind you, there was an alternative… of which more shortly.

Main Title: Also Sprach Zarathustra – Richard Strauss

The Blue Danube (Excerpt) – Johann Strauss II

Lux Aeterna – György Ligeti

Overture: Atmospheres – György Ligeti

Gayane Ballet Suite – Aram Khachaturian

Pan Am space clipper approaches Space Station One (Blue Danube)

The Monolith on the Moon (Lux Aeterna)


1. Dermot O Connor - December 1, 2018

Only recently found out that the original was 19 minutes longer:


lost footage found recently.


WorldbyStorm - December 1, 2018

Sheesh! Another directors cut! 🙂


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