Signs [Original Motion Picture Score]

Signs [Original Motion Picture Score]

4.8 7
by James Newton Howard

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Call it a fortuitous omen: Composer James Newton Howard and director M. Night Shyamalan, both multiple Oscar nominees, collaborated to spellbinding effect on The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and their latest team effort for the extraterrestrial thriller Signs is just as captivating. The film explores the mysterious


Call it a fortuitous omen: Composer James Newton Howard and director M. Night Shyamalan, both multiple Oscar nominees, collaborated to spellbinding effect on The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and their latest team effort for the extraterrestrial thriller Signs is just as captivating. The film explores the mysterious appearance of crop circles -- a phenomenon that has mystified researchers for decades -- and their residual effects on farmer Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his family. Thus, Howard's Signs is a score of mounting tension, beginning with "Main Title," a quiet passage that suddenly erupts with a slash of violins, which continue to swirl beneath a storm cloud of brass. It's a heart-racing theme that segues into "First Crop Circles," which begins with a solitary piano set against a large orchestra, until oboes sound an ominous note. The sense of danger, mystery, and wonder is palpable, and it recurs later, in "Into the Basement," with a chorus of violins playing a meditative, deceptively tranquil melody. Harp, brass, and flute deepen a gentle, almost bucolic moment in this piece, until the tempo quickens with a dark oboe, thunderous timpani, and now-racing violins. A keyboard passage briefly eases the excitement, before the score ends on an eerie note with a full orchestra. Like a good suspense film, Howard's score for Signs is a shifting, multi-textured event that leaves listeners on the edge of their seats.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
With Signs, composer James Newton Howard again joins director M. Night Shyamalan for their third collaboration following The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and clearly the film presents another thrilling encounter with the supernatural. From his opening "Main Theme," Howard ratchets up the tension, and his music thereafter alternates only between the ominous and the suspenseful. He overloads his lower tones, employing eight basses, five percussionists, and even a tuba, but also uses a large string section for short, fast, repetitive figures meant to keep viewers on the edges of their seats. This is not particularly imaginative music, just good old Saturday afternoon scary movie fare, the only distinguishing characteristic about it -- consistent with Shyamalan's style -- that it is so relentless. There's just no let up; dread pervades every moment of the director's films, to the point of emotional exhaustion for some, and the score has to have the same uncompromising approach, which can make it a little hard to take when listened to all the way through.

Product Details

Release Date:
Hollywood Records

Related Subjects


Album Credits

Performance Credits

James Newton Howard   Primary Artist
Julie Gigante   Violin
Dimitrie Leivici   Violin
David Shostac   Flute
Jim Walker   Flute
Bruce Dukov   Violin
Richard Todd   Horn
Richard Altenbach   Violin
Robert Becker   Viola
Steve Becknell   Horn
William Booth   Trombone
Denyse Buffum   Viola
Paul Cohen   Cello
Franklyn d'Antonio   Violin
Louise Di Tullio   Flute
Brian Dembow   Viola
Chuck Domanico   Bass
Arni Egilsson   Bass
Stephen Erdody   Cello
Christine Ermacoff   Cello
Alan Estes   Percussion
Armen Garabedian   Violin
Rick Gerding   Viola
Endre Granat   Violin,Concert Master
Alan Grunfeld   Violin
James Kanter   Clarinet
Dennis Karmazyn   Cello
Roland Kato   Viola
Randy Kerber   Piano
Katie Kirkpatrick   Harp
Armen Ksadjikian   Cello
Janet Lakatos   Viola
David Low   Cello
Rene Mandel   Violin
Edward Meares   Bass
Victoria Miskolszy   Viola
Bruce Morgenthaler   Bass
Barbara Northcutt   Oboe
Michael Nowak   Viola
Brian O'Connor   Horn
Robin Olson   Violin
Katia Popov   Violin
Joe Porcaro   Percussion
Emil Radocchia   Percussion
Anatoly Rosinsky   Violin
Geri Rotella   Flute
James Sawyer   Trombone
Haim Shtrum   Violin
David Speltz   Cello
Phil Teele   Trombone
Jim Thatcher   Horn
Cecilia Tsan   Cello
Josefina Vergara   Violin
Roger Wilkie   Violin
Kenneth Yerks   Violin
Robert Zimmitti   Percussion
Gayle Levant   Harp
Marlo Fisher   Viola
Matt Funes   Viola
Peter Limonick   Percussion
Sebastian Toettcher   Cello
Lily Chen   Violin
Drew Dembowski   Bass
Kenneth E. Munday   Bassoon
Susan Ranney   Bass
Mario Diaz de Leon   Violin
William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach   Trombone
Natalie Leggett   Violin
Gary Bovyer   Clarinet
Tamara L. Hatwan   Violin
Timothy Landauer   Cello
Rafael Rishik   Violin
Pete Anthony   Conductor
Jennie Hansen   Viola
Nico Abondolo   Bass
Darrin McCann   Viola
Sara Parkins   Violin
Antony Cooke   Cello
Hershberger   Violin
Phillipe Levy   Violin
Keith Greene   Viola
Steven Gordon   Viola
Irina Voloshina   Violin
Eun Mee Ahn   Violin
Tim Morrison   Horn
Liane Mautner   Violin
Mark Robertson   Violin

Technical Credits

Richard Grant   Auricle Programming
James Hill   Electronic Score Supervisor
Mark Graham   Music Librarian
Dave Marquette   Engineer
Shawn Murphy   Scoring Engineer,Score Mixer
Brad Dechter   Orchestration
Jeff Atmajian   Orchestration
Marc Gebauer   Recording Assistant
Jay Selvester   Recording Assistant
Pete Anthony   Orchestration
James Newton Howard   Score Producer

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Signs [Original Motion Picture Score] 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was first introduced to James Newton Howard's music when I saw the movie SIGNS. Before the main titles were even halfway finished, I knew there would be some amazing music here. And I wasn't disappointed. Not since Elmer Bernstein's Magnificent Seven score have I been so moved by a film's music. Howard makes ingenious use of a three-note motif throughout, and it's used to great effect in conveying such things as fear, hope, doubt, loss, faith and redemption equally as well without ever sounding repetitive. I'm in awe of Howard's talent. This is great stuff, follks. On an amusing note, I don't think it would be too much of a movie spoiler to say that when I listen to The Hand of Fate - Part I, a voice in my head starts chanting "Get the bat, get the bat" in time with the aforementioned three notes... I think SIGNS is a great movie, but I don't feel I would have enjoyed it nearly as much without Howard's remarkable score. To me, it's as much a character as the ones portrayed by the actors. It captures the mood of all that transpires in the film and communicates it to the audience very well, spanning the entire spectrum of emotion from fearful to joyful. James Newton Howard is a wonderful composer, and I think this is a fabulous CD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Newton outdoes himself in this soundtrack. His music fits in all the corners of the movie, and his strings and percussion blow you away. It gives you a sense of fear, wonder, and emotion all at once, a mixture you rarely find in any good soundtrack these days. Absolutely fabulous.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you own James's masterpiece music, you must listen to it. It's mind-blowing. You can't get your ears off it and then, listen to it over and over, and it never gets old. 'Signs' soundtrack and motion picture are incredible!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you see the movie SIGNS, you know that Shymalan scares the living heck out of you. But it would not all come to be without this score, whose credits include THE SIXTH SENSE and THE FUGIATIVE. The music itself is eerie and creepy in its own sense, as well as deeply emotion. It ranks second in the top three movies of the summer, MINORITY REPORT, also with an excellant score, and THE BOURNE IDENTITY, another excellant one. Even coming in at 45 minutes, this is a winner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just recently purchased this score and it is great! What makes it special is that it is just like the movie. They both can scare the heck out of you at times. You know it's coming but you don't know when. James Newton Howard and Shymalan are perfect for each other. The score definitely makes you able to relate to what the Hess family went through. Go buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just like the movie it compliments, this soundtrack isn't so much about creating scary moments, but just as much about describing the human aspects of the whole ordeal. When you listen to this score, you are overcome with emotional responses, especially if you've seen the movie. It's truly special when you find a soundtrack that is so good at mirroring human emotions, and that's what makes this one worthy owning.