How to Spookify Your Songs for Halloween | Easy Ear Training

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Halloween is just around the corner! With scary movies on TV and your noisy neighbor blasting a non-stop horror soundtrack in their yard, perhaps you’ve been bitten by the horror music bug and want to create some of your own spooky songs for this most horrifying of holidays…

So how do you go about creating some spine-tingling sounds? We’ve rounded up some of the best ideas from around the interwebs for some ways to spookify your songs.

Macabre Mood

One of the first things you will have to learn to do when writing for Halloween is to set a suspenseful mood. Professor Bill Hartzell (a.k.a. Sound Savant) has advice for how to evoke a macabre mood based on his short piece Slowly Up The Stairs:

See if you can follow his tips and find ways to use ostinato, consonance and dissonance, dynamics and polyrhythms to create your own petrifying piece.

Some Evil Chords and Scales…

A surefire way to make music mysterious is to add some evil chords and scales to your composition. So what exactly makes a chord or scale “evil”? It’s all about context.

The Lick Factory has examples of how to bring out your inner demon and add some tension to your Halloween composition using semitones, harmonic minors and the Phrygian mode, with clear charts for both guitar and piano.

…And The Most Evil Scale – Ever!

Okay guys. It’s time to put your pets away and put the kids to bed. Not only does Peter at Seymour Duncan give you tips for using the the tritone – also know as the Diabolus In Musica – and the minor third to create hair-raising musical horror, he even dares to mention the dreaded flat second – that semitone again!

Read on if you dare, but be aware that these infamous intervals have been known to evoke unsettling feelings and even make “a few shirtless dudes crowdsurf.”

Benny Hill as a Terrifying Theme Song

You probably wouldn’t think of the “Benny Hill” theme song as a Halloween classic. However, making any song scary is easier than you think if you have a simple audio editing program.

Dr. Nightmare talks you through how to make any song sound disturbingly creepy with Audacity in this video tutorial:

You will never hear the “Benny Hill” theme the same way again!

“Crunchy Chords” and Other Sinister Sounds

If you’ve got access to the GarageBand app for iPhone, try out this simple project from Midnight Music, which is also suitable for the classroom.

If you follow the video tutorial, you (or your students) will learn how to make eight scary sounds plus programmatic music for storytelling activities or for movie soundtracks.

“EEEEEEEK!” – Halloween Printable

Perhaps you would like to teach your youngsters how to make some dead simple changes in a melody to make it mortifyingly scary. Teach Piano Today has this Halloween printable to help your piano students make any tune terrifyingly… wonderful?

They also have some great advice for engaging your student in a discussion about what makes a song sound “scary”.

Instruments…of Terror!

How do horror soundtrack composers make all those creepy sounds? Today there are endless ways to make spooky noises on electronic devices, but nothing can replace the good old fashioned creepiness of theremins and waterphones.

“What are theremins and waterphones?” you might ask…

Dark Horse Institute gives you some examples of the use of these and other instruments in film. You may just be inspired to buy your own theremin-making kit!

How to Write a Halloween Hit

Finally, do you want to give writing a hit Halloween pop song a try? Everyone knows the best pop Halloween songs were written in the 1980’s! There was “Thriller” and, well… “Thriller”, so the pop music market is primed for some fresh Halloween hits!

Brent Domino has this quick guide to making a hit Halloween pop song:

All it takes is a synthesizer, some lyrics and plenty of notes played all at once.

With the application of simple music theory or the use of free audio editor programs, you just might create some gruesomely great Halloween music. We hope that these fellow Halloween fanatics have given you some eerie inspiration to make your music just a little more menacing this season. Need even more tips? Check out our own 5 tips to make your songs spooky for Halloween.

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