A Clockwork Orange
Score and Soundtrack
Wendy Carlos was already famous for her album Switched-On Bach, an electronic adaptation of some of the famous classical composer’s works, before she began her collaboration with Kubrick. The sound she produced playing Bach on her synthesizer was both classical and futuristic, perfect for A Clockwork Orange. Carlos had already begun composing a score to the novel when a friend sent her a clipping from a London newspaper saying that Kubrick had begun adapting it for film. Carlos continued to work on her musical composition, and when she saw an article in The New York Times announcing that Kubrick had finished shooting the film, she contacted him to suggest that he use her music. Kubrick invited her to London, and the two eventually collaborated on what became the score for the film.
Carlos made electronic recordings of a number of famous classical composers for A Clockwork Orange, including Beethoven, Rossini, and Purcell, and Kubrick also included some of Carlos’s original compositions in the score. Her adaptation of the choral movement from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was the first electronic “vocal” piece ever produced. In the film, works by these composers accompany Alex’s violent rampages as well as his violent fantasies, lending them an ecstatic and surreal quality that might well match the way Alex feels during them. The film opens with Carlos’s own composition, Timesteps, a slow, booming, otherworldly piece that sets an ominous tone for the entire film.
Important to note is the fact that the music of A Clockwork Orange is credited to “Walter Carlos,” even though the composer later became “Wendy Carlos.”
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!