Notwithstanding its uncommon look and "feel," perhaps the most unusual aspect of the film is the way it sounds. Never before had a major Hollywood effort utilized a score generated entirely by electronic means, yet seldom does one find commentary on how Louis and Bebe Barron's score again and again challenges Hollywood norms.
In addition to placing the composers and film in historical context, James Wierzbicki's study offers a deep and thorough analysis of not only the music as used in the film, but also of the decontextualized music as presented by the Barrons on the 1977 "original soundtrack album." The text is generously illustrated with transcriptions and graphs, and can serve as a model for the examination of other extended works of electronic music for which no written score has ever existed.
The book’s four large parts are given over to Music and the "Silent" Film (1894--1927), Music and the Early Sound Film (1895--1933), Music in the "Classical-Style" Hollywood Film (1933--1960), and Film Music in the Post-Classic Period (1958--2008). Whereas most treatments of the subject are simply chronicles of "great film scores" and their composers, this book offers a genuine history of film music in terms of societal changes and technological and economic developments within the film industry. Instead of celebrating film-music masterpieces, it deals—logically and thoroughly—with the complex ‘machine’ whose smooth running allowed those occasional masterpieces to happen and whose periodic adjustments prompted the large-scale twists and turns in film music’s path.