Composer Tools: History, Concepts and Speed Writing a Horror/Suspense Theme


This Composer Tools is sponsored by our friends at Soniccouture

Soniccouture has released Threnody, a massive string library delivering a textural playground of col legno clattering, clusters, ‘clouds’ of activity, and arcs of glissandi. With 26 articulations, this Kontakt Player instrument contains avant-garde & extended playing techniques long heard in scores for sci-fi and horror soundtracks.

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Composer Tools History, Concepts and Speed Writing a Horror/Suspense Cue Show Notes


What makes a score scary?

The ever-evolving fashion in scoring seems to be getting better and better at manipulating our emotions. In this episode of Composer Tools we talk a little about the science of suspenseful music, recap a history of some of the defining moments in horror and suspense music and pull concepts and music troupes from those scores.

Then I dive into the DAW and share a speed writing session focusing in on the childish sounds troupe with just a few sample libraries.

Instruments used in this video

Music Boxes by Soniccouture (FREE Kontakt Player instruments) – 

Big Bang Orchestra Ymir Children’s Choir by Vienna Symphonic Library

Threnody avant-garde strings by Soniccouture

Steam Punk by Fallout Music Groups –

UVS-3200 by UVI  


Scores mentioned in this video

‘A desire, a hunt, a treasure’ – Manolo Blahnik Bag Collection Commerical (2015)
Music by Don Bodin


The Shining – Full OST / Soundtrack (1980)
Music by Wendy Carlos Rachel Elkind


The Exorcist (1973) Soundtracks
Includes music by Krzysztof Penderecki, Hans Werner Henze, Mike Oldfield and more


Jaws Original Soundtrack (1975)
Music by John Williams


The Omen Original Soundtrack (1976)

Music by Jerry Goldsmith


O Fortuna / Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (1936)

Friday the 13th Soundtrack 1980
Music by Harry Manfredini


Halloween Soundtrack (1978)
Music by John Carpenter

Psycho Soundtrack (1960)
Music by Bernard Herrmann


Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima
Composed by Krzysztof Penderecki


A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Music Composed by Charles Bernstein