Close Encounters: Communication or galactic jam session?

At the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when the mothership makes its appearance, the humans attempt to communicate with the visitors by playing back the five tones that, when translated, told the humans where to be. Ok, so they play those notes back and forth a few times. But then, the players start going off the sheet music and hitting what sounds like random notes. The question is, had the humans deciphered the tonal language and were actually communicating with the aliens? Or were the humans and aliens just jammin’ out?

IIRC, a computer had taken over at one point during the “jam session”, so I assumed it was communication.

Somewhere in the Mother Ship, there is an alien who looks like this.

“It’s a cookbook!”

I believe it was the aliens that took over the keyboard, because the player basically had the keys taken away from him. He was still playing when the keys started to move by themselves.

There were also people with perfect pitch telling the keyboardist what to play, and they were basically emulating what the aliens played, repeating it back to them. As one of them said, it appeared to be a basic tonal alphabet.

When I get to the Mother Ship I will be mighty upset if I don’t see this guy and this guy.

No, there was definately something about a “computer interlock” being engaged.

I think a better question is: did the humans ever figure out what their computer was doing?

Yeah, that’s it exactly. The line is something like “We have a transmission interlock on their audio signal - we’re taking over this conversation now.” Then, cut to the shot of the keyboard players hands, as the keys start moving by themselves.

How about that/ I came in to post this.


For some reason I always thought this guy was the musical alien that greets you on the Mother Ship.

But the others would be cool too.

Except for silenus’ one.

So the aliens had us squealing like pigs?

Really? Where? I’ll go spin up my copy right now and find out.

OK, I have a direct quote, from here:

It seems I was wrong. Oh well. It won’t be the last time.

Wow, Airman, just reading that quote proves that some visual and aural experiences are simply impossible to convey through words. One of film’s most magical moments simply falls flat on the page.