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Soundtrack Mix #31: The Symphonies of Storytelling - Steven Spielberg

An exploration in sound and music of one of Hollywood's greatest storytellers.
Florence Scott-Anderton
Steven Spielberg's cinema is one of emotional symphonies; discovery, laughter, tears, bravery, fear, to name but a few. He uses sound to great effect to immerse viewers in the multitudes of worlds he’s created over his career. This mix traces the legacy of one of contemporary cinema’s most renowned figures; with his semi-autobiographical new film The Fabelmans out in theaters this autumn, it felt apt to visit Spielberg's treasure trove of cinematic sound.
TIM: “Do you hear that?”

GENNARO: “Maybe it’s the power trying to come back on?”

LEX: “What is that?”
The mix begins with the sound of luscious rain sounds from Jurassic Park (1993), followed by children whispering wondering, fearful questions. (The mix cuts away just before the terror of a dead goat landing on the roof of the kids’ car.) This is a great example of how sounds in Spielberg's films sway between powerfully orchestral, ambiently spatial, and dissipation into uncharted geographies of the unknown.
It’s hard to think about Spielberg without the music of composer John Williams; the two began their collaboration back with The Sugarland Express (1974) and most of the music in this mix showcases their long bond. Other work includes the iconic score for The Color Purple (1985) by production maestro Quincy Jones, Thomas Newman’s work on Bridge of Spies (2015), and original music by Dusty Springfield (for 2002’s Catch Me if You Can) and Jimmy Buffet (1989’s Always). Spielberg’s technical understanding of how music can create tension and emotion in film has resulted in some of the most analyzed and mimicked sounds in film history, such as the infamous string sequence in Jaws (1975) and the somber violins of Schindler’s List (1993).
In this mix I decided to stray slightly from the expected classics, while still packing in favorites and featuring contemporary work such as the sophisticated sway of 2017’s The Post so that the mix could have its own cohesive narrative and flow. At just over an hour this mix pulls from decades of Spielberg’s storytelling. There is something completely cinematic in the sonic landscapes of Spielberg's films—when listened to in isolation, one really feels they are at the movies in the most Hollywood way possible. His use of music is so potent that it can conjure a cinematic experience as much during a film as it can after, with the music still echoing in your mind.
  1. Extract, Jurassic Park (1993), 00:00,
  2. John Williams, "Intimate Conversation," Always (1989) 01:20
  3. John Williams, "Sean’s Theme," Minority Report (2002), 02:40
  4. John Williams & Itzhak Perlman, "Remembrances," Schindler's List (1993), 04:30
  5. John Williams, "Reaching the Country," War of the Worlds (2005), 09:36
  6. Extract, Indiana Jones (1981) 12:30
  7. Quincy Jones, "Celie Leaves With Mr.," The Color Purple (1985), 12:50
  8. John Williams, "Hymn To The Fallen (Reprise)," Saving Private Ryan (1998), 16:00
  9. Jimmy Buffet, "Boomerang Love,"  Always (1989), 21:55
  10. John Williams, "Gupta’s Deliverance," The Terminal (2004), 26:45
  11. Thomas Newman, "Bridge of Spies (Suite)," Bridge of Spies (2015), 30:00
  12. Extract, Hook (1991), 34:40
  13. John Williams, "The Oak Room," 1971, The Post (2017), 35:42
  14. Dusty Springfield, "The Look of Love," Catch Me If You Can (2002), 37:15
  15. John Williams, "Stay with Me," E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), 40:50
  16. John Williams, "Chrissie’s Death," Jaws (1975), 43:00
  17. John Williams, "Prologue," War of the Worlds (2005), 44:20
  18. John Williams, "Main Title," The Sugarland Express (1974), 47:00
  19. John Williams, "Freedom’s Call," Lincoln (2012), 48:15
  20. John Williams, "The Papers," The Post (2017), 54:10
  21. Extract, Minority Report (2002), 57:45
  22. John Williams, "The Witching Hour," The BFG (2016), 58:50
  23. John Williams, "A Legend is Born," The Terminal (2004), 61:15
  24. The Li-Ron Herzeliya Children's Choir, "OYF'N Pripetshok & Nacht Aktion," Schindler's List (1993)
  25. John Williams, "Prayer for Peace," Munich (2005), 67:15
  26. John Williams, "Suo Gan," Empire of the Sun (1987), 71:20


Soundtrack MixesAudioSteven Spielberg
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