Casual Cadenza: Spooky tunes for a spooky week

From screechy violin sounds to out-of-tune harmonies make for some great tunes to get into the Halloween spirit. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

Based on the events from the past two weeks, the word “midterm” likely provokes flashbacks of absent guidance from professors and feelings of dread while opening LockDown Browser. Hopefully, most of us have survived by now. The end of October is arguably one of the best times of the year; a time when orange, black, purple, and green seem to be the only appropriate colors and ghosts and jack o’lanterns thrive on front porches. Although there’s nothing scarier than taking exams during an online semester, spookiness has only just arrived. For this week’s column, I thought it’d be best to share some Hollywood-inspired sinister tunes, leaving midterms as a repressed memory and embracing the spirit of Halloween, which happens to be right around the corner. 

Bernard Herrmann — “The Murder” (from “Psycho”) 

Starting off with a classic, the screechy violin sounds of Bernard Herrmann’s score for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” have managed to gain icon status since the film’s debut in 1960. Even those who haven’t seen the movie are presumably familiar with “The Murder,” which aside from the film’s quintessential shower scene, also plays at every haunted theme park and is the very music most animatronic lawn decorations emit when motion-triggered. While Norman Bates has become an archetype for every horror villain and the notorious plot of an overly attached son who takes over his mother’s personality as he murders people (relatable, I know) has become infamously linked to Hitchcock’s masterpiece, it’s hard to avoid its equally distinctive score. However, for the sake of sanity, I wouldn’t recommend listening to “The Murder” while taking a shower, nor “Prelude” when driving in a thunderstorm. 

Colin Stetson — “Reborn” 

In contrast to my love for “Psycho,” I think one of my biggest regrets in life is seeing “Hereditary.” The fact that sleep, an activity I was quite fond of prior to watching the film, had become impossible during the full week it took me to recover only serves as a testament to Ari Aster’s talent at scaring audiences out of their wits. There are many aspects of the movie that contribute to its spine-chilling abilities, but it’d be fair to give its score some credit. “Reborn” is probably the most well-known piece from the score, partly due to its loud use at the end and its popularity as a sound on TikTok. The best (or worst) part about it is its unnatural celebratory undertone, which makes sense in the context of the scene. On the other hand, objectively hearing it makes me want to rip off my toes. Despite my love-hate relationship with the film, I can’t help but admit the music is a premier feature. While watching “Hereditary” on Halloween night is quite the opposite of what I endorse, I can condone listening to “Reborn.” 

Bobby Krlic — “Gassed” 

Yet another example of an Ari Aster film that caused me to age 10 years, the score for “Midsommar” is nothing in comparison to its intriguing plot and its visual gore that hasn’t seemed to leave my mind since the first time I watched it. Nonetheless, I became fond of the score days later. In particular, “Gassed” would be my favorite piece. It seemed morbid at first, actively listening to the initial cries of Dani on the phone followed by the instant sound of an eerie, out-of-tune violin harmony that accompanied the film’s opening scene of a dead family. Now that I think about it, maybe it was macabre after all, considering I listened to the track during a road trip to Rhode Island that summer and occasionally during sunny walks on campus months after. So clearly, “Gassed” works for any occasion, depending on who you are and the vibe you’re trying to create. To promote the same ghoulish atmosphere brought on by Halloween, it’s the perfect music to blast. 

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