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Everything to Know About the Oppenheimer Soundtrack

Christopher Nolan and Ludwig Goransson have teamed up for another epic score.

By Matthew Jackson

Christopher Nolan's massive historical drama Oppenheimer is finally in theaters after months of anticipation, allowing audiences everywhere the chance to experience the story of the father of the atomic bomb like never before. 

If you've already seen the film, which critics are calling one of the best of the year, you know that composer Ludwig Goransson (Black PantherThe Mandalorian) has delivered a truly epic score to chart the course of J. Robert Oppenheimer's (Cillian Murphy) story. From intimate moments with Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty (Emily Blunt), to the tense moments just before the Trinity atomic bomb test, Goransson follows it all, and if you love the film you'll no doubt have the score in your head for days. 

RELATED: Christopher Nolan Says Oppenheimer's Story is "Most Dramatic" He's Ever Come Across

Thankfully, reliving Goransson's music is easy. Back Lot Music announced Friday that the original motion picture soundtrack is now available everywhere you get your digital music, with a physical release from Mondo already available for pre-order. That means that, even if you have to wait a while before you see the film again, you can re-experience Goransson's soundscapes right now. 

How The Oppenheimer Soundtrack Was Created

Oppenheimer Poster

So, how did Goransson shape this particular musical journey? According to Nolan, he let the composer pretty much run free when it came to laying out the music, but did offer one instrument as a suggested point of entry for the whole piece. 

“I suggested he base the score on the violin,” Nolan said in a press release. “There’s something about the violin to me that seemed very apt to Oppenheimer. The tuning is precarious and totally at the mercy of the playing and emotion of the player. It can be very beautiful one moment and turn frightening or sour instantly. So, there’s a tension — a neuroses — to the sound that I think fits the highly strung intellect and emotion of Robert Oppenheimer.” 

Goransson took his director's advice, using the violin to start laying out themes that would run through the entire film, and eventually expanding to an entire orchestra for the film's moments of high tension and drama. 

“We embarked on a mission to create a score that could authentically convey the intricate inner world and journey of Oppenheimer,” Goransson said. “With the violin serving as the emotional core of the music alongside string ensembles, an impressive display of brass and nuclear synths underpinning the impending doom that was to come, the score swiftly transcends from a personal journey to a grandiose and almost operatic spectacle, oscillating between realms of hope and despair. Working with an exceptionally talented group of musicians, we were able to capture nuanced performances that would add another dimension to the breathtaking visual world and performances of Oppenheimer, forging what we hope will be a transportive experience for the audience."

Oppenheimer: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is available digitally right now. Next month, Mondo will release the soundtrack in both CD and vinyl formats, including a Mondo-exclusive cloudy orange pressing of the three-record set. All three versions are available for pre-order now at Mondo's website.

The Tracklist For The Oppenheimer Soundtrack

  1. Fission 
  2. Can You Hear The Music 
  3. A Lowly Shoe Salesman 
  4. Quantum Mechanics 
  5. Gravity Swallows Light 
  6. Meeting Kitty 
  7. Groves 
  8. Manhattan Project 
  9. American Prometheus  
  10. Atmospheric Ignition 
  11. Los Alamos 
  12. Fusion 
  13. Colonel Pash 
  14. Theorists  
  15. Ground Zero 
  16. Trinity 
  17. What We Have Done 
  18. Power Stays In The Shadows 
  19. The Trial 
  20. Dr. Hill 
  21. Kitty Comes to Testify 
  22. Something More Important 
  23. Destroyer Of Worlds 
  24. Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer is now in theaters everywhere. Get tickets at Fandango.

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