Jurassic Park (film score)

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Jurassic Park
Soundtrack album by John Williams
Released May 25, 1993
Recorded 1992 - 1993
Genre Score
Length 1:13:13
Label MCA
John Williams chronology
Home Alone 2
Jurassic Park
Schindler's List
Jurassic Park chronology
Jurassic Park
The Lost World
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars
Filmtracks 5/5 stars
Movie Wave 5/5 stars

Jurassic Park is the twelfth project on which renowned composer John Williams worked with Steven Spielberg. He composed, conducted and produced the film's score. John Neufeld orchestrated most of the cues, with Alexander Courage entirely orchestrating three and Conrad Pope partially orchestrating two others.

MCA Records released a soundtrack album for the film on May 20, 1993. Also produced by Williams, this album includes most of the film's major cues, sometimes edited together into longer tracks and often containing material that was unused in the film. Several passages are also repeated in different tracks.


Williams began writing the Jurassic Park score at the film at the end of February, and it was conducted a month later. John Neufeld and Alexander Courage orchestrated the score.[1] The composition was made in Skywalker Ranch concurrently with the sound editing process, leading Williams to get inspiration from Gary Rydstrom's work with dinosaur noises.[2][3] Williams described it as "a rugged, noisy effort - a massive job of symphonic cartooning", saying that while trying to "have to match the rhythmic gyrations of the dinosaurs" he created "these kind of funny ballets".[4] Like with another Steven Spielberg film he scored, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Williams felt he needed to write "pieces that would convey a sense of 'awe' and fascination" given it dealt with the "overwhelming happiness and excitement" that would emerge from seeing live dinosaurs. In turn more suspenseful scenes such as the Tyrannosaurus attack earned frightening themes.[5] It was the first time where Spielberg was unable to attend the recording sessions as he was in Poland filming Schindler's List. Williams just gave Spielberg demo tapes with piano versions of the main themes prior to his travel, and the director would hear them daily on the way to the sets.[6]

The score uses a large orchestra that often includes a variety of percussion, two harps, baritone horns, and choir. Some passages also call for unusual woodwinds such as shakuhachi and E♭ piccolo oboe. Furthermore, Williams included synthesizers in much of the score. Some cues, such as "Dennis Steals the Embryos", feature them prominently, but many of the synth passages are mixed much more quietly, often doubling the woodwinds or helping flesh out the lower harmonies. Several prominent celeste solos (such as in "Remembering Petticoat Lane") are also performed on synthesizers.


Two major melodic ideas can be heard in this score.

The first and main one that is heard most frequently, is known simply as "Theme from Jurassic Park", and is introduced when the visitors first see the Brachiosaurus, and features "gentle religioso cantilena lines", which Williams declared was to try "to capture the awesome beauty and sublimity of the dinosaurs in nature." This theme is widely regarded as one of John Williams' greatest themes. This theme also has three other versions. One is an extended version, heard in the first half of "Welcome to Jurassic Park." The second is a much shorter and tender version that is heard at various parts of the film and simply revolves around the climax of the theme but in a much softer note. This much softer version was slightly modified and used for the score "A Tree for My Bed." "Theme from Jurassic Park" was also used for the true soundtrack and album of The Lost World: Jurassic Park and was the finale of the film. However it was cut due to pacing in the actual film but still remains part of The Lost World's album. The start of the extended version, however can be heard near the end of the film. In Jurassic Park ///, Don Davis composed the third version of the theme, which was slightly shorter and retitled it "Brachiosaurus on the Bank" for the third film. The shorter, tender version is heard several times in the third film. The "Theme from Jurassic Park" and its three versions are the most frequent themes in the entire franchise.

Another theme, "Journey to the Island", takes the form of a noble fanfare first heard as the helicopter approaches Isla Nublar; the composer described as an "adventure theme, high-spirited and brassy, thrilling and upbeat musically".[7] The original score of "Journey to the Island" also consists of "Theme from Jurassic Park." However this version is only heard in the soundtrack. The full version of this theme was heard in the credits intro of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. However the finale of it was cut due to pacing. Don Davis composed a shorter version of this theme for Jurassic Park /// and retitled it "Dinosaur Fly By." "Journey to the Island" is considered the credits theme for the franchise, since while "Theme from Jurassic Park" and its versions appear prominently throughout the films, "Journey to the Island" is heard only once in the film and gains more prominence during the credits.

Both "Theme from Jurassic Park" and "Journey to the Island" are used for the score's quieter, more tender moments, typically with woodwinds, horns, or keyboards. Williams stated that this reuse as leitmotifs was for the pieces to become a theme for the park itself, "which could be used in several different places, and when orchestrated differently, could convey the beauty of what they were seeing at first."[5]

John Williams also composed a theme called "Welcome to Jurassic Park." This theme actually consists of four themes. The first, which takes more than half of the theme is the extended version of "Theme from Jurassic Park." The second is "Journey to the Island." The third is the shorter, tender version of "Theme from Jurassic Park." The fourth is the into of "Into the Kitchen." "Welcome to Jurassic Park" is heard at the end of the film and the credits.

A third theme was also composed and is very different from the main two. Comprising four menacing notes, it is heard frequently in scenes involving the threat of the carnivorous dinosaurs - the raptors in particular. The cue "Into the Kitchen" (entitled "The Raptor Attack" on the original soundtrack) explores this motif extensively, which draws inspiration from Williams' previous suspense music such as the Jaws theme, with "wild orchestral and choral things; the idea was to shake the floor and scare everybody. This theme also features the ending of "Journey to the Island" as its finale."[7] Williams described as "operatic in a dramatic way", and an opportunity to him to emphasize the "swashbuckling aspects of the orchestra".[8]

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[edit]

Track Listing
No. Title Length
1. "Opening Titles"   0:33
2. "Theme from Jurassic Park"   3:27
3. "Incident at Isla Nublar"   5:20
4. "Journey to the Island"   8:52
5. "The Raptor Attack"   2:49
6. "Hatching Baby Raptor"   3:20
7. "Welcome to Jurassic Park"   7:54
8. "My Friend, the Brachiosaurus"   4:16
9. "Dennis Steals the Embryo"   4:55
10. "A Tree for My Bed"   2:12
11. "High-Wire Stunts"   4:08
12. "Remembering Petticoat Lane"   2:48
13. "Jurassic Park Gate"   2:03
14. "Eye to Eye"   6:32
15. "T-Rex Rescue and Finale"   7:39
16. "End Credits"   3:26

20th Anniversary Edition Soundtrack[edit]

For the 20th anniversary of the release of the film, a new digital download was released on April 9, 2013 including four bonus tracks personally selected by John Williams.[9] Only two minutes of music from the film now remain unreleased as isolated audio.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shay, Don; Duncan, Jody (1993). The Making of Jurassic Park: An Adventure 65 million Years in the Making. Boxtree Limited. p. 144–6. ISBN 1-85283-774-8.
  2. ^ Big Movie Sound Effects: Jurassic Park, MPSE
  3. ^ The Dolby Era: Film Sound in Contemporary Hollywood
  4. ^ Thomas, David (September 1997). "John Williams Interview". Total Film (8): 74–79. 
  5. ^ a b The Making of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park
  6. ^ "Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution", Jurassic Park Blu-Ray (2011)
  7. ^ a b Dyer, Richard (May 9, 1993). "The Williams Whirlwind’". The Boston Globe. p. B1. 
  8. ^ ‘A Whole New Level’, Jurassic Park Blu-Ray
  9. ^ Remastered Jurassic Park Soundtrack Includes 4 Unreleased John Williams Tracks

External links[edit]