One of the most important aspects of horror films is the music. The sound effects used in horror films are particularly important because they lead the audience along with the path of the film. Music is composed to follow sequences in films, when an audience hears for example a slow long build from an orchestra, it indicates something important and climatic occurring.
Different instruments evoke certain emotions from audiences. Bemard Herrmann’s score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho uses high-pitched, quick paced music to build suspense. The music played during the shower scene in Psycho only consisted of a few notes, but it builds fear in the audience and is one of the most recognized themes in all movies. Many other horror films use the same techniques to heighten the sense of fear. If audio effects were taken away from horror films, they would loose a certain frightening element that is evoked by the music played to accompany thrillers, horror, suspense, and science fiction films.
The popular theme songs in Jaws and Psycho effectively use the sounds of the orchestra by imitating the motions in the movie. The violins in Psycho use percussion and imitate the knife strokes made by the killer, making the scene ever frightening and forever etched in your memory. The double base used in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) begins slowly and gradually quickens mimicking the attack in the film.
One of the main purposes of music in horror films is to manipulate emotions. If horror films were silent or were set to a different score, it would completely change the tone and the ability to intensify your nerves. The sound effects in movies compliment the horrifying visual effects and overall leave you in shock and awe as Norman Bates takes the life of Marion Crane.
So as visual effects improve every day it can only mean musical effects are changing just as rapidly and they will continue to change how we feel and react to all films by evoking and manipulating emotions of audiences worldwide.