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Top 10 Iconic Instrumental Film Scores

VO: Dan
These are the instantly recognizable and rousing musical scores that elevated already magical pictures. When a movie makes use of an actual orchestra, it enhances the feeling of movie magic in ways big budget special effects simply can't touch. These musical themes have enhanced and defined such things as the excitement of the DeLorean zipping back in time, raising lost tombs, the discovery living dinosaurs, and even getting transported to a galaxy far far away. Join as we count down the top 10 Instrumental Movie Themes.

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Top 10 Instrumental Movie Themes

These are the instantly recognizable and rousing musical scores that elevated already magical pictures. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 Instrumental Movie Themes.

#10: “Back To The Future” (1985)

Kicking off our list is the thematic, dynamic and boisterous score that underpinned the excitement of this tale about a teenager who accidentally travels through time. Composed by Alan Silvestri, it features an orchestra of 100 members. Aside from the iconic main overture, there’s 45-minutes of music capturing everything from the wonder of time travel to the fantasy, suspense and urgency of Marty’s situation.

#9: “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (1966)

Composed by Ennio Morricone, this unique and highly original soundtrack blended elements that instantly become associated to the western genre. These ranged from the use of whistling to yodeling, and even gunfire. Its main theme even includes the motif of a coyote howl. Incredibly, throughout the film, its main characters are distinguished tonally, with a flute playing for Blondie, ocarina welcoming Angel eyes and vocals for Tuco.

#8: “The Godfather” (1972)

This instantly recognizable theme, forever associated with the mafia was composed by Nino Rota and conducted by Carlo Savina. Unlike others on this list, this one is not known for being loud and exciting. Instead, this waltz is a dark and elegant melody that looms over the scene like the Godfather’s own impactful presence. The main instruments in play throughout the film are the violin, piano and guitar.

#7: “Batman” (1989)

Leave it to Danny Elfman to compliment Tim Burton’s take on the dark knight with an equally gothic, brooding and energetic theme. Interestingly, it’s unique for having instruments that blare together without drowning each other out. The standouts are the use of violins and trombones during the rousing melody line. Even after Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, this spectacular theme remains the one that many fans associate with Batman.

#6: “Rocky” (1976)

It’s nearly impossible to not associate this theme with athleticism and personal triumph. Composed by Bill Conti, the theme is titled “Gonna Fly Now”. A timeless score, it has become a part of pop culture in a big way, despite some dated elements. Notably, it features a stirring build up, complete with vocals, and holds a special place in the heart of Philadelphians.

#5: “Jurassic Park” (1993)

Thanks to this score by the one and only John Williams, it’s impossible not to think of a dinosaur without humming its flowing melody that accentuates awe and fascination. To generate the sound, Williams employed a large orchestra complete with percussion, harps, baritone horns and a choir.

#4: “Indiana Jones” series (1981-2008)

This iconic theme for the iconic character is also known as “The Raider’s March”. Also conducted by John Williams, it was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Originally two separate tracks, Spielberg enjoyed them both so much that he asked that they be blended together. The result is a theme that ranges from wildly adventurous to romantic. Unsurprisingly, it was given an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.

#3: “James Bond” series (1962-)

The main signature theme of the MI6 superspy, it has been instantly recognizable since it’s debut in “Dr. No.”. Written by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry, it almost always accompanies the gun barrel sequence. The tune channels the surf rock style guitar riff, which was popular back in the 1960s, while it’s solo guitar is accompanied by five saxophones, nine brass and a rhythm section.

#2: “Superman” series (1978- 1987)

While it may not be included in the latest theme, John Williams’ orchestral theme will forever be identified alongside the silver age hero. Titled the “Superman March”, it gave the adventures a epic atmosphere surging with excitement and gravitas. Seemingly shouting out the name “Superman”, it conveys three major themes, a building fanfare, the actual march and a palatable romance for the character.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

#1: “Star Wars” series (1977-)

Was there any doubt? Taking the top spot on our list is the most recognizable motif in film history. Following his pedigree through this countdown, it cannot come as a surprise that it’s the work of John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra. A score of epic and mythical proportions, it is played during each film’s opening crawl, and perfectly captures the theme of heroism and adventure.

Agree with our picks? Which instrumental movie score do you consider the greatest? For more rousing top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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