Music, whether it be loud as well as additionally instrumental or barely audible at all, is one of the key components of cinema. A well-composed and additionally strategically utilized score can more effectively deliver an emotional message to a film's audience, so it's no wonder that horror movies depend on their soundtracks perhaps more than in any other genre. If horror aims to scare its viewers, its accompanying music must drive the suspense, anxiety, as well as fear that is intended to frighten. Music, then, is crucial to complete a horror movie's mission.
Horror movies have always had an intimate relationship with their soundtracks ever since the early days of movie theater. Although music was largely absent from Universal's earliest horror works, Franz Waxman's dissonant, eerie score for Bride of Frankenstein paved the way for horror composers for years to come. Musicians would replicate the pounding beat as well as additionally “scare” or “shock chords,” used to mark a particularly surprising moment of fright, countless times for decades, while Waxman's character themes became a Hollywood staple reaching far beyond the world of horror.
The scores for horror films range from gothic and baroque to deceptively simple. Composers often rely on motifs to layer patterns on top each other, slowly building up suspense and dread. Think about the two-note progression of John Williams' rating for Jaws, the repetitive and pulse-pounding synthesizers in John Carpenter's main theme for Halloween, or the whispering chant of Friday the 13th.Of course, horror movies have also showcased explosive atonal terror, such as in Bernard Herrmann's disconcerting string compositions in Psycho or Jerry Goldsmith's satanic choir voices in The Omen. Goldsmith and director Ridley Scott feuded over the opening theme for Alien, arguing over whether it should be fantastical or eerily minimalist since the piece set the tone for the rest of the story.
Music has a powerful ability to influence storytelling and create a distinctive atmosphere in film, as soundtracks shape specific moods and help to direct the target market's emotions throughout the narrative. Alfred Hitchcock originally wanted the infamous shower scene in Psycho to play out without any music, but he capitulated to his composer when he heard how accurately Bernard Herrmann's discordant staccato string plucking reflected the horrifying act of violence on screen. John Carpenter stated that a producer at Fox thought the rough cut of Halloween, screened to her without music, was unscary. He took the criticism and, using Herrmann's string-focused techniques as a guide, composed one of the most iconic scary themes in history using only a synthesizer.
Whereas film scores are often meant to evoke a sense of wonder and romance, horror movie soundtracks are supposed to make the viewers feel uncomfortable. Horror scores almost always have a quality about them that makes them seem “off” and unnatural, eschewing traditional forms of composition to emphasize dissonance over consonance, preferring to leave listeners without a sense of resolution. This is why a lack of music to build suspense through empty space in the sound is also important to the horror movie experience. Even Halloween falls silent at points throughout the film so that Michael Myers' breathing is the only sound heard.
The centrality of music to the horror category raises the question of scary's authenticity. To the critical ear, horror films may rely on soundtracks as a crutch, choosing to tell the target market what to feel instead of allowing the actions on screen to organically speak for themselves. However, the raw emotion associated with scary means that authors are often forced to create some of the most distinctive pieces of songs put to movie, even if it means simply alternating between a select group of notes or letting a dissonant chord ring out ominously. Horror flick songs is an echo of terrifying flick power.