Ex Machina “Ava”


Compared to other films, Ex Machina features a fairly light score (light as in there’s not much music to listen to). But what IS there…ahhh, that’s what really drew me in when I watched the movie the first time. Very often the simplest film score is one of the best, and this is true in Ex Machina.

The music was composed by the duo of Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow (they’d previously collaborated on Dredd (2012)) and though I love the entire soundtrack, my favorite piece by far is “Ava,” the theme of the robot played by Alicia Vikander (she should’ve gotten an Oscar for that performance, just saying).

The theme of “Ava” first appears when Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) sees Ava for the first time. It begins the moment Ava steps into view. The melody is simple, and most likely played on a metallophone (think of a xylophone but with metal bars). And if the music sounds familiar…there’s a very good reason.

Ex Machina – Meet Ava

Remember the famous 5 tone theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)? If that doesn’t ring a bell, look it up, give it a listen, then come back to “Ava” and listen to that again.


Do you hear it? I nearly fell over when I recognized “Ava” contained the 5 tone theme (slightly modified, but recognizable). The question I want to answer now is….why did the composers choose THAT particular theme to insert into Ava’s theme? I’m not sure yet, but it’ll be fun to find out why!

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See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

A 21st-century Pygmalion in Ex Machina

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*poster image is the property of Universal Pictures


5 thoughts on “Ex Machina “Ava”


    Wow. I didn’t notice Close Encounter sounds before. Great observation. Thematically, those tones were used to communicate with another intelligent species. Instead of math, shared communication was tones, which can represent emotion through expression. This parallels with AI species with emotions and expression. Perhaps there’s a connection? I love gettin nerdy with it. Stay rad!

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  2. Pingback: A 21st-century Pygmalion in Ex Machina | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Soundtrack Review: Annihilation (2018) | Film Music Central

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