The next great step in the evolution of Science Fiction Music was a revolution. Twenty-five years after Metropolis, a soundtrack unlike any other was created by Bernard Herrmann. He defined the sound of 50s science fiction. And the music is a touchstone for almost every scifi soundtrack, both new and traditional, to the present day.

The Day The Earth Stood Still is a good film, that was remade a few years back with Keanu Reeves. A cautionary tale, where the alien bears a warning about violence spreading to space. The score evokes space, aliens, robots, a uniquely science fiction tone.

Herrmann was the first to create a hybrid score: blending live and electronic sounds into a unified whole. In 1951 he added an electronics section to the orchestra: Theremins, oscillators, electric keyboards, electric guitar, electric violin and cello. This was years before rock music or synthesizers as we know them. Yet the musical timbres are still evocative, and the composing is insightful and eloquent, supporting the film and standing on it own as music.

Perhaps most remarkable is how the acoustic and electronic instruments blend so naturally. This was done live in real time, with minimal rehearsal. People wouldn’t dare try this today, it’s too difficult.

Here’s the iconic Prelude and Outer Space: