Raiders of the Lost Ark (soundtrack)

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Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJune 1981
RecordedFebruary 1981, Abbey Road Studios, London, England
LabelPolyGram, DCC Compact Classics/Sony Music Special Produtcts, Columbia Records (Original LP Release)
John Williams chronology
The Empire Strikes Back Raiders of the Lost Ark E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Indiana Jones chronology
Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Professional ratings
Review scores
Movie Wave

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the film score to the 1981 Steven Spielberg film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The music was composed and conducted by John Williams, and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Orchestrations were done by Herbert W. Spencer with additional orchestrations done by Al Woodbury.[citation needed] The score was released by Columbia Records in June 1981. The soundtrack received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, but lost out to Vangelis' score for Chariots of Fire.[1]


Williams said that the music did not have to be serious for the film and was instead theatrical and excessive.[2] Williams spent a few weeks working on the Indiana Jones theme, more commonly known as "The Raiders March" that plays during the main character's heroic scenes. Two separate pieces were played for Spielberg, who wanted to use both. These pieces became the main theme and musical bridge of "The Raiders March".[3]

For the romantic theme, Williams took inspiration from older films like the drama Now, Voyager (1942) to create something more emotionally monumental that he felt would contrast well with the film's humor and lighter moments.[2][3] Williams used "dark" orchestral pieces to represent the actions of the Nazis, using the "seventh degree on the scale of the bottom". He said this signified a militaristic evil.[3] To create something suitably biblical for the Ark of the Covenant, he used a mix of chorus and orchestra.[2]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "The Raiders March" (a.k.a. "Indiana Jones Theme")
  2. "Flight from Peru"
  3. "The Basket Game"
  4. "The Map Room: Dawn"
  5. "The Well of the Souls"
  6. "Desert Chase"
  7. "Marion's Theme"
  8. "The Miracle of the Ark"
  9. "End Credits"

Marion's theme is inspired by the second movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano concerto no.2 op. 18.

Expanded edition[edit]

The soundtrack was re-released in an expanded edition by DCC Compact Classics, Inc. in November 1995 on CD and LP, with thirty minutes of new and extended cues and a 24-page booklet. The LP had an extended "The Well of the Souls" sequence that was absent on the CD release.

Raiders of the Lost Ark [Expanded]
ROTLA soundtrack 2.jpg
Soundtrack album by
John Williams
ReleasedNovember 1995
LabelDCC Compact Classics, Inc.

Track listing[edit]

1."The Raiders March" (a.k.a. "The Indiana Jones Theme") 
2."Main Title: South America, 1936" (new track) 
3."In the Idol's Temple" (extended track) 
4."Flight from Peru" 
5."Journey to Nepal" (new track) 
6."The Medallion" (new track) 
7."To Cairo" 
8."The Basket Game" (extended track) 
9."The Map Room: Dawn" 
10."Reunion and the Dig Begins" (new track) 
11."The Well of the Souls" (Extended to include "Uncovering the Ark / Marion Into the Pit" on DCC LP release.) 
12."Airplane Fight" (new track) 
13."Desert Chase" (extended track) 
14."Marion's Theme" 
15."The German Sub / To the Nazi Hideout" (new track) 
16."Ark Trek" (new track) 
17."The Miracle of the Ark" 
18."The Warehouse" (new track) 
19."End Credits" 

Total Time: 73:35

The Indiana Jones Trilogy[edit]

Silva released a newly recorded version of Williams' Indiana Jones music entitled "The Indiana Jones Trilogy"[4] on January 21, 2003. It features various cues from the first three Indiana Jones films, with seven from Raiders. However, although they use the original manuscripts, this is a re-recording performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Indiana Jones: The Soundtracks Collection[edit]

The five-disc release by Concord Records was released on November 11, 2008. The set contains the three original soundtracks to the trilogy, expanded and remastered, including material never before issued on CD. The box set also includes the standard Kingdom of the Crystal Skull soundtrack (released in May 2008, no bonus material added) plus a bonus CD that includes more music from the trilogy and an exclusive audio interview CD with Williams.

Disc One
1."In the Jungle" 4:13
2."The Idol Temple" 3:56
3."Escape from the Temple" 1:34
4."Flight from Peru" 2:24
5."Washington Men / Indy's Home*"Previously Unreleased1:06
6."A Thought for Marion / To Nepal" 2:12
7."The Medallion" 2:55
8."Flight to Cairo" 1:30
9."The Basket Game" 5:02
10."Bad Dates*"Previously Unreleased1:14
11."The Map Room: Dawn" 3:53
12."Reunion in the Tent / Searching for the Well" 4:02
13."The Well of the Souls" 5:28
14."Indy Rides the Statue*"Previously Unreleased1:09
15."The Fist Fight / The Flying Wing" 4:37
16."Desert Chase" 7:33
17."Marion's Theme / The Crate" 2:10
18."The German Sub" 1:23
19."Ride to the Nazi Hideout" 3:20
20."Indy Follows the Ark" 1:40
21."The Miracle of the Ark" 6:07
22."Washington Ending & Raiders March" 6:52
Disc Five
1."Raiders March"2:30
3."Uncovering the Ark"5:32

The re-issues of the three original soundtracks are also available in Europe as a single release. The content are identical to the first three titles in the box-set.

Missing music[edit]

There are about three minutes of music from Raiders of the Lost Ark that—so far—have not been released on CD.

  1. Marion Into The Pit (Present on DCC LP)
  2. Indy Rides The Statue (Original Film Version—Concord Release is an Alternate)

In addition to the missing music, "Desert Chase" is incomplete on the Concord set. It has been trimmed down to its 1981 album length, making the 1995 release the only complete representation of that cue.


  1. ^ "Academy Awards Database - Best Original Score (1981)",, Retrieved November 30, 2015
  2. ^ a b c "Raiders of the Lost Ark: An Oral History (Page 5)". Empire. 24 April 2008. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Indiana Jones And Me: John Williams". Empire. 11 October 2012. Archived from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  4. ^ allmusic ((( Indiana Jones Trilogy > Overview )))