nzoa july 2019

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by Cassandra King

Horror Music – Why Does It Work?

by Cassandra King

Horror Music – Why Does It Work?

With anything from Psycho and Jaws to It – horror films are nothing without the all-important layer of music. But what is it in particular about music for horror that enhances fear?

An emotional response can be provoked so easily through our ears – depending on what we are hearing, our mood can be affected dramatically, especially with music – it can make us want to dance, it can make us want to cry. The use of major or minor chords and progressions have the power to lift or lower our mood… but throw something dissonant and unexpected in the mix and fear can be sparked.

Not only will dissonant chords build tension, but pair them with high-frequency changes and non-linear sounds and we have what is meant to be an imitation of animal screams. The music tunes into our instinctual response to young being threatened and we feel panicked – unexpected and abrupt sounds leave us feeling helpless and under attack. 

Max Green explores primal fear and horror film, through his reaction to a marmot scream here

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