The Baton: A John Williams Musical Journey

Episode 47 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

October 30, 2019

John Williams closed out 1977 on top of the pyramid in Hollywood. He was involved in two of the three highest-grossing films in the United States, and wrote scores for them that brought more attention to symphonic film scores. His final film of 1977, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," required him to participate in pre-production to find a five-note signal that would serve as communication between Earthlings and the aliens. His underscore is full of great themes, including a nod to the "Dies Irae" melody and sweet angelic voices to signify the alien mystery. Host Jeff Commings details the long journey Williams took to complete this project, which began in early 1976 and continued to summer 1980 for a three-minute piece for the controversial mothership interior scene in the Special Edition.