The Ghostbusters: Afterlife Score Brought Back A Key Member Of The Original Orchestra For A Certain Haunting Sound [Exclusive]

Elmer Bernstein's soundtrack for the original "Ghostbusters" was punctuated by the eerie sounds of an instrument called the Ondes Martenot. When Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd), and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) descend into the basement of the New York Public Library, you can hear the Ondes Martenot kick in and that's our cue that they are about to have a spooky encounter.

The Ondes Martenot takes its name from French inventor Maurice Martenot and it's also known as the Ondes Musicales, which is French for "musical waves," and which gives you an idea of the wavy, theremin-like sound that the Ondes Martenot produces. /Film's own Ethan Anderton recently interviewed "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" composer Rob Simonsen, who revealed that the Ondes Martenot made a comeback for "Ghostbusters: Afterlife."

Simonsen first elucidated how the instrument works, saying:

"It's one of the earliest synthesizers, and it's this electric instrument that has keys, but it also has this metal wire that runs across in front of the keys, and there's a ring. You put your finger inside the ring and you can slide up and down so you get this very smooth tone. That's when you get these very, almost vocal type sounds. You can vary the tone of it. It's very similar to a theremin, but a theremin you play with your hand in the air, and this you play putting your finger in this ring and gliding your hand in front of the keys. You can see what pitch you're at because the ring is right in front of the key of the pitch."

Below, you can hear the Ondes Martenot in action in the library scene from "Ghostbusters," which reminds us that "no human being" would engage in symmetrical book-stacking (and perhaps no human voice could replicate the unearthly whistle of the Ondes Martenot).

The Ondes Martenot and a Returning Orchestra Member

Bernstein reused the Ondes Martenot on several other film scores, including "The Black Cauldron," "The Good Son," and "My Left Foot." Jonny Greenwood also made prominent use of it in "There Will Be Blood." Simonsen alluded to this and continued:

"It's a beautiful instrument. I actually used it on my record and [composer] Johnny Greenwood owns one. He's used it in his work with Radiohead and his work in film scores. It's a really beautiful instrument. Elmer used it on many of his film scores. It wasn't just 'Ghostbusters,' but of course it fit perfectly for 'Ghostbusters' because it has this kind of ghostly sound.

"That was one of the first things that Jason and I talked about, that we had to use the Ondes. The woman who played for many of Elmer's scores and who played the Ondes on 'Ghostbusters' is named Cynthia Millar, and she's still around. We brought her into the studio in London. Unfortunately, we weren't able to travel at that time, so we just did it remotely, but we had her come in and play down all the parts to the new score. That was just such a treat."

As it turns out, Millar wasn't the only veteran of the original "Ghostbusters" to have a hand in the soundtrack for "Ghostbusters: Afterlife." Simonsen explained:

"I had one, I think it was a string player, get up at the end of the session. When I came out and was talking to them a little bit, he said, 'Yeah, I played on the original.' I think there were some other musicians besides Cynthia that played on the original. It's humbling to be a part of such a legacy."

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is in theaters now.