Music to Haunt By: An Introduction

Having clearly not learned my lesson from doing the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari, I’ve decided to do another music-related review series for the site. However, unlike last time, this will be much shorter and won’t have the introduction and first review merged into a single post…

Sound is an important part of any haunted attraction, be it the noise made by a performer or by a hidden audio player blasting scary sound effects. Don’t get me wrong, a haunted attraction can still be great without any prerecorded sound effects or music, it’s just that sounds can greatly enhance a scare. Try watching any of the shark attack scenes from Jaws without the music and you’ll see what I mean. No offense to Dario Argento, but I’m convinced that Deep Red would have been nowhere near as intense without Goblin’s amazing score.

But you don’t necessarily need sound effects to scare people. Simply playing the theme from Halloween in a darken room is enough to unnerve many people. However, doing that in a room decorated to look like a spaceship will only cause confusion (if not outright amusement). You just have to match the right audio with the right setup.

Over the course of this review series, I’ll be looking at CDs from artists that specialize in music designed to scare people. I’ll also include suggestions on what themes work best with each CD and how certain tracks can be used, be it at your haunted house or simply played in the background when trick or treaters come a-calling.

These aren’t the standard “scary sound effects” CDs you can pick up just about anywhere come October, although some of the CDs will have a track or two of just sound effects. Most of the time, the majority of the tracks will either be just music or a combination of music and sound effects. For those not in the know, the latter is also known as a “soundscape.” Soundscapes can be a combination of sound effects played over music, or a group of related sound effects playing on the same track (either playing one after the other or layered over each other). For example, a graveyard soundscape could consist of ravens cawing and the wind blowing, with the occasional sound of a grave being dug or a shuffling zombie.

Speaking of soundscapes, our Twitter pal Tribal Gothic has recently released an ambient sci-fi soundscape called “A Failed Event in Time.” You can get the free .mp3 here.

For an even more in-depth look at the use of sound in a haunted attraction, I highly recommend this twopart article from 2 Scary Guys. Also, our recent “Tricks and Treats” article has a few sneaky sound tricks. Check ’em out!

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