Monthly Archives: October 2013

Classical and Film Music to Give You the Shivers

Mike_Fallon2by Mike Fallon

The Renaissance Era

During the Renaissance Era, William Congreve wrote the play “The Mourning Bride”, which has the famous quote “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” This quote expressed the belief and practice that music can console many a woe. Often misquoted with the word “beast” The term “breast” refers to the terminology of that time, where the breast held the emotions and soul of man (or woman).


Such is the power of music to calm and console you, lift your mood, soothe your spirit, inspire you, warm your heart, and give you feelings of hope, peace and tranquillity.

On the other hand —


Music can also do the opposite and take you to the darker side of fear, dread and despair. It can shock and scare the bejesus out of you, and oh yes, it can give you the shivers.

And thus with Halloween almost upon us I come to the subject of scary classical and film music to give you the shivers.

I believe that as you age the threshold for what constitutes scary music changes for you.

Peter and the Wolf

As a child, I would often listen to Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with each character in the story having a particular instrument and a musical theme. For Peter it was string instruments. I felt happy and contented whenever Peter’s theme played.

Peter and the Wolf (Peter)
music clip

For the Wolf it was french horns with its dark and foreboding theme that gave me the shivers.

Peter and the Wolf (the Wolf)
music clip

Twilight Zone

When I got older it was the Twilight Zone TV show theme written by avant-garde composer Marius Constant that gave me the shivers as I watched and waited for another eerie episode to begin.

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

The Season 5 episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with the monster on the airplane wing (accompanied by very frightening music) definitely weirded me out.

Twilight Zone Theme
music clip

Now that I have matured (that being debatable) into an adult and become somewhat jaded, my threshold for what constitutes scary music has changed and evolved. It now takes a much stronger dose of musical scariness to give me the shivers



In honor of Halloween, it’s time to dust off some old and some relatively new music that can conjure up that eerie and scary side of Halloween with its all-round horror. So here are my picks of some music (with video) that can do just that. Maybe some of them will give you the shivers.


The Famous Shower Scene From “Psycho”

Composer Bernard Herrmann composed and recorded the entire soundtrack to Psycho using only string instruments. This included the terrifying shower scene with its use of screeching violins, The shower scene music was an original all-strings piece by Herrmann entitled “The Murder.”


Jaws Music Video (John Williams)

Composer John Williams wrote the soundtrack to Jaws. The main theme for Jaws revolves around a simple alternating pattern of two bass notes identified as “E and F” or “F and F#.” This created a feeling of suspense and a fear of approaching danger (of the shark). For Williams this was meant to represent the shark as an “unstoppable force” of “mindless and instinctive attacks.”


Krzysztof Penderecki – Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Krzysztof Urbański

This was composed by Penderecki in 1960 and dedicated it to the victims of Hiroshima. Scored for 52 string instruments, with screeching violins and some percussive effects, you have over 9 minutes of one of the most terrifying and scary pieces of music ever composed, of any genre.


Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens (1922) – Movie
(translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror)

Originally released in 1922 as Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, director F.W. Murnau’s chilling and eerie adaption of Stoker’s Dracula is a silent masterpiece of terror which to this day is the most striking and frightening portrayal of the legend. Here is the movie trailer for this silent movie.
This music fits right in for Halloween — very spooky and eerily atmospheric!


George Crumb: “Vox Balaenae” (Voice of the Whale) for 3 masked players:
Mimi Stillman, flute, Arlen Hlusko, cello, Amy Yang, piano

Inspired by the singing of the humpbacked whale, the performance requires that each of the three players wear a black half-mask while the stage is lit in a deep blue color. This has amplified flute and human voice where the flutist sings into flute while playing it. Just right for Halloween, this is bizarre and spookingly eerie music.


Krzysztof Penderecki: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 1 (First part)

Here is another piece from Penderecki with its dark, brooding and chaotic strings. Try blasting this anxiety inducing music from your house on Halloween night and you may be scaring off the trick or treaters.



Béla Bartók “Out of Doors” Suite (part 1 of 2)

For the first 90 seconds the piano is getting quite a workout with this piano bang fest. If you want to let out all your frustrations (and scare off your family) then this is the piece (with plenty of discordant chords) to learn on your piano.


Insidious Theme

“The farther you travel, the darker it gets.” This is the theme to the horror movie Insidious. Dark, mysterious and creepy to the max!  Here is some perfectly spooky music for Halloween.



Dark Music – Witch Factory

The repeating arpeggiated piano in this theme music will remind you of the original Halloween movie theme. With the “factory” sound effects and all — this is bewitchingly wicked music for Halloween.



Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring – Dances of the Young Girls, Mock Abduction [Charles Mackerras]

“The Rite of Spring” was Stravinsky’s third ballet. However, this was not a ballet like Tchaikovsky’ “Swan Lake” with pleasant music amid beautiful scenery. No this was music that seemed brutal to the point of vulgarity. The dancing mirrored this music in being rough, sharp and angular, lacking the grace and charm of classical ballet dancing.

The audience at the Paris premiere on May 29, 1913 didn’t know that this ballet would be so different from the ballets they were accustomed to. Many in the audience were stunned by the music and the dancing and a small scale riot broke out during the performance. As the riot ensued, two factions in the audience attacked each other, then the orchestra, which kept playing under a hail of vegetables and other objects. Forty people were forcibly ejected. The music you hear on this video was music that was played during the start of the riot which was near the beginning of the production.


Now if all these pieces are a bit too heavy and scary for you youngsters out there then here I give you…
Bambi – Quail Gets Shot

In the movie Bambi, besides the harrowing scene where Bambi’s mom is shot and killed by the hunters, there is another traumatizing moment in Bambi. Watch this scene to see what that is and listen to the impending, foreboding music of three notes that repeat and build in intensity and speed until there is a sudden climax. The building tension of the music makes you feel dread that something bad is going to happen.


Thanks for visiting my blog and my 2nd post.

Mike Fallon


Blog Post 2 — “Classical and Film Music to Give You the Shivers” — October 28, 2013 (Revised July 16, 2017) (this Blog Post 2) (The Musical Nose Blog RSS Feed) (The Musical Nose website)

Click The Musical Nose Blog Posts to see the current listing of all blog posts.

Your comments or suggestions concerning this blog are greatly appreciated.

Mike Fallon

To learn more about who Mike Fallon is… click “So Who is Mike Fallon?

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Fear, Trepidation, and Starting My Own Blog

Mike_Fallon2by Mike Fallon

Hello.  I am Mike Fallon. I have a website called The Musical Nose. swirlnotesnose
After some careful thought and long deliberation I have decided to start my own blog.
And this so happens to be my first official blog post.

As you can see, the URL for this blog is which is a subdomain of The Musical Nose ( You can also use which will also take you to my blog.

This is to be a music blog with an emphasis on Cattle Herding Songs — Just Kidding!!! (Although there may be some great cattle herding songs out there waiting for us to discover. Maybe I will explore that.)

I will mostly write about and explore things related to classical music (My favorite genre). Although I do love jazz and popular music as well and those and other genres may be discussed in some future blog posts.

What this blog will not be is highbrow or intellectual. That is just not me. I am a plain-spoken person. I like to express my opinions, ideas and beliefs in a simple and honest way.

This blog may not always be grammatically pretty and perfect. Its grammar and structure may be a nightmare for English teachers and copy editors! I remember back in grade school days when my graded writing assignments would often come back covered with red-worded (bad) comments from the teacher.

red-worded comments

Also, out of ignorance, I may be violating blogging etiquette rules. Are there blogging etiquette police out there?

So doing this blog is something totally new for me and I have a lot to learn about the art of blogging.  So bear with me as I sort out and figure out what the heck I’m doing. Although I’m not totally sure of the exact direction this blog will always take, it will definitely be music oriented which is my passion.

Now getting back to the subject of this first blog post —

Fear and Trepidation Fear and Trepidation
I initially posted a shorter version of this my first blog (with the title “Welcome to My Blog”). That was when my fear and trepidation concerning this blog began to set in.  Do I really know what Im doing?  What am I getting myself into?  Do I have what it takes to put out well-constructed, articulate, knowledgeable and interesting blog posts on a consistent basis? Will anyone even care or be interested in reading my blog posts?

This fear and trepidation came to a head a couple of days ago as I was reading through several posts from the Tom Service classical music blog at The Guardian.

Tom Service Classical Music Blog

Wow, what a great blog! I am absolutely blown away about how beautifully crafted his music blog is!
However, I felt totally intimidated dissonant by his impressive and articulate writing style along with his expertise in classical music.  This feeling caused me to un-post my first blog while my inner voice was telling me “I’ll never be able to do this!”  That reminds me that Beethoven’s reaction (whispered to a friend), when listening to a concert of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24, was “We shall never be able to do anything like that!”  How presumptuous of me to compare my situation to Beethoven’s!

I recently came across a comment by a Tara B (a photographer) from June 5, 2010 responding to an article about blogging advice. She wrote: “Thanks for the advice! I’ve been blogging consistently for about a month and have thus far acquired no subscribers. But I’m trying to remember patience is involved there somewhere! Some times I feel like I’m talking to no one, and my beautiful images are there for nothing! But I’m trying not to get discouraged!”

Tara’s comments moved me. I share her sentiments.

Last night I attended the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music 135th Anniversary Concert.  The program consisted of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 43 and Beethoven’ Symphony No. 9, Op. 125.  My son Kevin is in the orchestra as a flute player.  He also is a music major at UOP.

It was a wonderful concert. I especially enjoyed the Rhapsody… which the “18th Variation” of that was featured in the movie Somewhere in Time. I  came away from the concert feeling invigorated and energized from that glorious music.

I especially love classical music, but I am also a very active listener of many genres of music and have been profoundly moved to every degree of emotion because of the power of music.  This power of music has me wanting to continue to do my blog now.  I know I am a long way from being like Tom Service but what the heck.

Well this expanded first blog is re-posted now and I hope I have the patience to stick it out for the long haul. I believe that preparation plus patience plus persistence yields reward.

Ironically, until recently, the word “blog” was one of those words (along with “viral“) that I despised and I would cringe every time I heard it… dissonant

…like listening to an extremely dissonant music chord. I still wish there was a better word for what I’m doing here. But like any acquired taste the word “blog” is starting to grow on me. However, I still cringe whenever I hear “It went viral.” Now maybe I would have a change of tune if my blog and website were to go viral.

As you can see from my header I like clouds. Like music, clouds can convey a range of moods and emotions — from sweet puffy white innocent cumulus clouds on a sunny day…

puffy clouds    thunderstorm

…to menacing dark towering cumulonimbus clouds reaching high into the atmosphere during a powerful thunderstorm. Well there’s a music blog subject in the waiting.

Well this blog is a new journey you and I are embarking on — and it’s going to be a fun and exciting journey of musical discovery and adventure.

So stay tuned to see where this blog takes us.  And if you get a chance, check out my website —  Your comments are always welcome too.


P.S. My next post should show up on Monday, October 28, 2013, the Halloween edition.

My niece Christine just sent me a comment – “Good for you! Happy blogging!”
Thanks Christine. I appreciate that.

Mike Fallon


Blog Post 1 — “Fear, Trepidation, and Starting My Own Blog” — October 20, 2013 (this Blog Post 1) (The Musical Nose Blog RSS Feed) (The Musical Nose website)

Click The Musical Nose Blog Posts to see the current listing of all blog posts.

Your comments or suggestions concerning this blog are greatly appreciated.

Mike Fallon

To learn more about who Mike Fallon is… click “So Who is Mike Fallon?

Add to Google