I used to study horror film and music in undergrad in one of my media courses and we learned that horror music in terms of acoustics is technically manufactured by musicians to register its effect below the upper layer of skin i.e. an excellent horror score is physically supposed to get under your skin, and for that several notes play key role in unsettling the listener. In one of the most powerful examples, there is Penderecki’s 52-stringed composition Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima which has been written about by musicologists for years. In one of my favorite books Music in the Horror Film: Listening to Fear edited by Neil Lerner, a chapter is dedicated to discussing how horror-film music is sound created purposefully incomplete in order to leave an effect of violent imbalance on the listener. In the lack acoustic harmony, the fear begins seeping into the listener’s sense. It’s a great book and you can view large excerpts of it here for free.

The score shared above is from It Follows and happens to play on the very same themes. If you’ve seen the film, you might remember it played during the scenes whenever the godforsaken ‘It’ would show up. Great work by Rich Vreeland.


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