Halloween is coming up next week and I can’t think of a better way to get into the spooky spirit than to write a section on the music we hear in horror movies. We all experience joy, laughter, sadness, pain, anger and many other emotions that catagorize us as human beings. Music is something that can trigger these certain emotions based off of it’s meaning. The music you hear in horror movies for example, trigger feelings of suspense and anxiety. No horror movie would be the same or even half as entertaining without the use of the woodwinds and strings that make a scene terrifying just by the sound of the music.
How does suspenseful music contribute to our emotions as individuals? As a song in a horror film unfolds, our brains are on the lookout for patterns as it waits for the next beat to come along. Songs that are meant to build tension and suspense do a great job of altering patterns in a surprising way that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats. If a song in a horror story is doing it’s job, the music will lead the audience down a path, slowly building tension and suspense until an unexpected plot twist scares everyone watching. Without the music, it’d be hard for someone to tell when something bad is going to happen because that feeling of anxiety doesn’t build. In fact, if horror movies didn’t have music, there would be little to no suspense and everything would be much more predictable.
To get into the spirit of Halloween, I urge you to go out and watch a scary movie. The 1960 film “Pyscho,” directed by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock is undoubtedly one of the scariest movies ever screened. The famous “shower scene” magnifies terror thanks to it’s excellent musical score composed by Bernard Herrman. Pay attention to the way you feel when the music is beginning to surface. Notice a change in your heart rate and stomach. I guarentee a feeling of uneasyness and anxiety will come over you. This is what suspenseful music does individuals, no other type of music can create the same effect.