Scoring Scares: How Music Affects Tension

By  · Published on November 2nd, 2017

Stringing you along with strings.

Most films don’t function well without their soundtracks, but horror is the genre most dependent upon its score. The crashing cacophony accompanying a jump scare is just as important as the camera whipping around to show the ghoul. It’s the component that reminds the audience that these monsters aren’t rubber and that blood isn’t fake.

Building tension, rather than just providing a one-scare sting, is a more complex animal. It’s also the reason many horror directors have a sweet spot for symphony – some even being composers themselves (looking at you, John Carpenter).

Studio Binder looks at some of the most famous horror scores and breaks down a few tips for the aspirational director that may not have as strong a foundation in music theory as others. How you hint to your audience that something may be wrong in this sleepy town is a similar skill to finding the right music for your chase – and this video gives some of the best inspiration.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).