I wanted to try something different this week; something that’s not as comfortable for me as the stuff I usually write. So I decided on a horror piece for this week’s composition.


I’ve always struggled with writing horror music. Maybe it’s because I tend to like things more structured, and often for a piece to be really scary it needs to sound more amorphous and alien. Or maybe it’s a lack of inspiration, seeing as how all of my deepest fears live either far away at the bottom of the ocean:

not far enough NOT FAR ENOUGH

or in Australia

Or, as it is colloquially known, "Giant Brain-Eating Spider Island."

Either way, it’s one thing to write a piece that properly sets the tone of a horror movie or game, it’s another thing entirely to write music that’s actually scary on top of it.

For this piece, I used a common technique when writing music for a horror setting; slowly adding elements in one after another. It gives the impression that a monster/serial killer/obnoxious mall kiosk attendant is slowly approaching you, step by step. So with this piece, I started out with some abstract, industrial grinding and scraping effects to help set the tone, and then began the piece in earnest with a lumbering, lopsided motive in the low strings. I added an orchestral bass drum sample (the loud booming you hear through most of the work) and ran it through some filters to give it more reverb and make it gritter and harsher sounding. After that, I slowly build up the string and brass sections, while adding a few more rhythmic tracks for tension, along with some slow, dark droning effects that build gradually in volume throughout the last half of the piece. I tend to find horror music even scarier when it ends on an eerily quiet phrase rather than a booming crescendo, so I took that approach here as well.

Check it out below. I highly recommend listening to this one with headphones or with the speakers cranked up a bit…


So what do you think? I’m no Jason Graves yet, but overall I’m pretty happy with it, and I learned a lot, so I’ll definitely try another one in a future post.

Anyway, enjoy the long weekend! No post this Monday. Why? ‘Cause America, that’s why.