'Forbidden' the first film to use electronic music

Composer Bebe Barron, whose score for “Forbidden Planet,” was the first use of electronic music in feature films, died April 20 of natural causes in Los Angeles.

A celebration of her life will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Felicia Mahood Multipurpose Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.

Born Charlotte Wind in Minneapolis, she attended the U. of Minnesota. In 1947 she moved to New York and, while working as a researcher for Time-Life, studied composition and married Louis Barron (1920-1989). Shortly thereafter, the Barrons began their experiments with the recording and manipulation of sound material using a tape recorder.

They recorded amplified sounds made by vacuum tube circuits and employed tape manipulation techniques for their experimental music. One of their early works was the score for Ian Hugo’s film “Bells of Atlantis” (1952), based on a poem by Anais Nin, who appears on screen.

The Barrons then composed the music for “Forbidden Planet,” the first commercial film to use only electronic music. The score was innovative in mixing music and sound effects, foreshadowing the role of the sound designer in modern film and video.

The Barrons composed many other works for tape, film, and the theater in the 1950s. Their studio became the home for John Cage’s Project of Music for Magnetic Tape. The Barrons’ studio served as a functioning center for electro-acoustic music at a time when there was no institutional support of the medium in the United States.

In 1962, the Barrons moved to Los Angeles; they divorced in 1970.

Bebe Barron became the first secretary of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) in 1985, and also served on the board of directors. In 1997 she was presented with the SEAMUS Award for the Barrons’ work in the field of electro-acoustic music.

She is survived by her husband, Leonard Neubauer, a screenwriter, and a son.

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