I'd also recommend Manfredini's main title to Deep Star Six. A great maritime sounding theme.
Yup, this one was one of my first "loves" of film music, back when I was five or six and used to rent that film on VHS all the time. I remember rewinding to watch the main titles over and over, esp. that buoyant horn over the arpegiating harp/synths.
Oh looky, I made a short suite of the score for Youtube back in the day, too...
Wonderful theme. Last year I was kinda disappointed when I discovered the main title was pretty clearly "inspired" by the main title from Williams' SPACE CAMP. Oh well, at least the melody is different! I do agree though, this is a wonderful evocation of the sea and still, in my judgement, the best thing Manfredini has ever done.
Lot of great titles mentioned. I'll definitely explore some of these scores.
@ Graham S. Watt: That's really cool about Chinatown. I vaguely recall having heard that somewhere before but had forgotten. I love discovering how much thought and detail composers put into their scores, even when their ideas will pass over the heads of most in the audience and work largely on a subliminal level.
@ Josh Mitchell: Great thread there! It didn't show up when I did a search for "water", but looks like there are tons of great water-centric scores listed there. Perhaps this thread will help single out scores that specifically bring to mind thoughts of water apart from the films they're attached to.
Here's a not-so-obvious one - the unusual percussion effects and "dripping" sounds in Goldsmith's CHINATOWN. Water is one of the major themes in the Polanski movie, and Goldsmith evokes the subtext in the way mentioned. I only know that because I read it in a book.
So glad someone mentioned this... one of the greatest evocations of water ever in a film score!
Many of those suggestions read more like: scores written for movies that are more or less accidentally set on, in or near water.
George Fenton's Blue Planet certainly comes to mind, or Carl Davis's The Commanding Sea, or Walter Scharf's The Legend of the Living Sea, John Scott's The Blue Whale from his Cousteau scores (or the Cousteau scores in general), Lee Holdridge's The Great Whales. Also, Christopher Gordon's Moby Dick, and the 1956 Moby Dick by Philip Sainton. And as literary allusions go, also The Old Man and the Sea, whether by Dmitri Tiomkin or Bruce Broughton.
If you want true symphonic seascapes, you'd be better off with concert works like Debussy's La Mer, Paul Gilson's De Zee, Arnold Bax's Tintagel, Kalervo Tuukanen's Symphony No.3 (The Sea), Jean Cras' Journal au Bord, Philippe Gaubert's Cants de la Mer, Britten's Four Seascapes from "Peter Grimes", Frank Bridge's The Sea, Sir Granville Bantock's A Celtic Symphony, Alexander Glazunov's The Sea, Bax's On the Seashore and The Garden of Fand (i.e. the sea), Vincent d'Indy's Poème de Rivages, Chausson's Poème de l'Amour et de la Mer, Sainton's tone poem The Island, Joseph Ropartz's Pecheur d'Islande, Britten's opera Billy Budd, etc. etc. - all of which probably evoke the sea in a deeper and more meaningful manner than any film score (out of necessity) ever can. Also, there are works that feature voices and orchestra that are sea-related, like Vaughan Williams's A Sea Symphony, Elgar's Sea Pictures or Stanford's Songs of the Fleet and Songs of the Sea.
Reef and Muir came to my mind immediately too. But water cascading down a fall or mountainside has a distinctive appeal in film with music and it's been done many times. Yet I can't think of a specific cue at the moment, 'cept for something like that sound employed by Monsieur Tiomkin as the block of ice melted in The Thing ! So let me settle for M. Steiner's opening credits for A Summer Place. Rolling cymbals either underscored or took over for waves crashing in otherwise full orchestral ocean glory. And I don't think I've ever seen a more refreshing drink of water than that given to Judah in Ben-Hur, what with Rozsa's Christ theme and all.