I Remember Halloween- The Eerie music of Clara Rockmore and Bernard Herrmann

 It’s  ‘The Monster Mash’ isn’t a fantastic song, it’s just that we’re adults now and we don’t really have to wait all year to listen to it. Hell, I listened to it like six weeks ago. There are plenty of pop bands out there with over distorted guitars, make-up, and a I-vi-IV-V who think they can come close to equaling the comic horror of The Misfits; they can’t. So while the classics get played out every October I thought I’d offer two of my favorite suggestions for Halloween listening.

Clara Rockmore, being an outstandingly gifted musical prodigy, wasn’t particularly focused on America’s creepiest night. Fuck me, however, if she didn’t make some perfect evening music for it. It’s not the song selection or arrangement, it’s her weapon of choice: the theremin. Rockmore could play the theremin as if both she and it were singing. It’s heartfelt and gorgeous, but it just so happens that the theremin is one of our more eerie sounding instruments (in addition to our classical conditioning, if you’ll pardon the pun, from hearing it in sci-fi and horror movie soundtracks). She has two CD collections and both will knock your tights and mask off: The Art of the Theremin and Lost Theremin.

Bernard Herrmann‘s brilliant film scores for Alfred Hitchcock’s work is not of this world. In his new book, How Music Works, David Byrne compares him to Schoenberg and Ives. His tension and chromaticism evoke anxiety and fear in the back of your neck, which he skillfully eases and tightens throughout his concise works. Of course to pick one score or compilations of his work would be an exercise in record sleeve cleaning and his list of incredible scores nothing but name dropping. If you to read even the introduction on his Wikipedia entry, I’m certain you’ll be intrigued. So let’s just go with Psycho because that film is, to use a technical term, totally kick-ass.


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