In Remembrance: Bebe Barron


     Bebe Barron, one half of the husband and wife composing team who created the otherworldly electronic music for the 1956 science-fiction classic Forbidden Planet, has passed away on April 20, 2008 in Los Angeles. She was 81.


     Working with her husband Louis, Barron created an electronic soundscape that helped to create the film’s mysterious and foreboding atmosphere. It was also the first time that a feature film’s soundtrack was composed of entirely electronic music. The score was an outgrowth of their work in experimental composition, where they would create music made by recording amplified sounds made by vacuum tube circuits and then physically manipulating the tapes by changing their speed or editing them into specific sequences.


     Born Charlotte Wind on June 16, 1926 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Barron attended the University of Minnesota before moving to New York in 1947, where she studied composition while working as a researcher for Time-Life. She also met and married Louis Barron that same year and the two soon began their experiments in recording electronic sounds and manipulating them on audio tape.


     Prior to their work on Forbidden Planet, the Barron’s composed the score for Ian Hugo’s short film Bells Of Atlantis, which was based on a poem by Anais Nin, who appeared in the film. She also composed electronic music for the shorts Bridges-Go-Round (1958) and Space Boy (1973).