After the silent films, war movies, and popular music came the new American cinema during the sass’s. Old traditions were ignored as new modern and popular styles were adapted. People were subject to civil rights issues, sexual liberation, assassinations, and war that were all televised. Things were changing and movie directors had to take advantage of the new opportunities and be creative, creating horror films. One of the first films to set the pace for the new generation of music was Psycho in 1960.
Alfred Hitchcock was not only innovative in the movie industry with new shooting sequences, but also changed how we perceive music. The music during the shower scene is now famous and known by almost everyone. It is shown in many horror films and everyone knows something scary is going to happen when that particular music starts playing. What is fascinating is that Hitchcock almost didn’t use music for the shower murder scene but ended up changing his mind after listening to what Herrmann wrote. I really think that specific music set the tone for horror films and just the movie industry in general.Order now
The music in Psycho was dependent on string instruments and opted out of the right and cheery sounds of wind and percussion instruments. String instruments weren’t played in their normal, lyrical way; rather, they were strong and percussive and used harsh accents and pizzicato effects. Rather than the strings playing synchronized, harmonic melody, the strings were plucked quickly to sound stiff and add tension. Frequently used to make the dissonant sounds were minor seconds and major sevenths, which became the most popular in Western harmony. The now famous music of the murder scene uses a unique technique that is still used today.
To really intensify the moment, frantic eighth notes are used with the major sevenths which really gives us viewers that scared feeling. Herrmann used a microphone close to the instrument to make the sound more forceful. Instead of using underscoring, the primary function was to create a mood. Many cues used became repetitive throughout the film and didn’t change moods. The music stays neutral and removed. For example, during the scene where the highway patrolman notices Marion and when he stops her, some might expect a rise in tension but the music stays constant.
Different qualities and moods use the same music and chords yet don’t symbolize the same thing. The film is divided into two parts that start with Marina’s story and ends with Normal’s world and there aren’t many recurring ideas heard in the music. Marina’s most prevalent theme is the Transition theme which is heard six times during the film while the lovers, flight, and stolen money theme are used only a few times. Eerie melodies and sharp chords are used during these themes and reflect her overall mood.
A great feature about the music used for these themes is that it is the same USIA played during the opening credits, which can lead viewers to think that the movie is all about Marion. Music in Film By challenging more intense and uses different methods of playing the violin where it is played in the extreme upper register. When Marion and Normal’s stories are overlapped, the music uses a rhythmic motif. For example, a high eerie pitch is used when Norman watches Marion undress to show his mental state and also when Marion flushes her expenses down the toilet to foreshadow what will happen to her life.
The most prevalent theme in Normal’s story is the murder theme, which is seen during the ruder of Marion, Arbitrators, attempted murder of Lila, and when Norman is running from the house after Marina’s murder. During the murder scene of Marion, the music is said to have a swooping sound, like the sounds of birds which can be linked Marina’s last name Crane. However, Herrmann denied that and it is said to be thought of as a slashing knife instead. Also, towards the end of the resolution, the viewer can see “Norman” smiling yet you can really see the smile of his mother, while the creepy Mother theme music plays in the background.