Music in My Horror Novel
I have given my zombie novel, Death Sense, a theme tune, because music is so damn important to horror stories I felt it couldn’t be without one. Just to show how important music is to horror, there are numerous lists of top horror themes and scores on the Internet, like this one from Consequenceofsound.net, including Jaws, A Nightmare on Elm Street and other spine-chilling favourites. The number one on the Consequenceofsound list is Halloween, and they tell an interesting story about the composition of the score:
In the early summer of 1978, months ahead of the film’s October release, Carpenter received a final cut of the film sans any music or sound effects, which he screened for a young executive at 20th Century Fox. She wasn’t scared at all, Carpenter wrote in the soundtrack’s liner notes, adding: I then became determined to “save it with the music.”
Needless to say, when she was shown it again with the music, it scared the living daylights out of her. But it wasn’t movies I was thinking of when I decided to give my novel a theme, I was thinking of horror on TV.
The Walking Dead television show is - in my mind - defined by its haunting theme tune. The tune itself is basically simple, with violins sawing away at your nerves as the tension of having to watch another terrifying episode mounts. This is best experienced while binge watching. It’s a dark and stormy night, you are alone in the house at four in the morning and you hate yourself for deciding to watch just one more, horrific, episode; and then that theme tune starts, shredding your nerves just a little bit more than they were already shredded. For people who love the theme, the composer, Bear McCreary, talks about composing it, at length, in this video.
The song I have chosen as my book’s theme is Like a Ghost, from 2005. The idea is that you can follow the YouTube link, put the song on, and listen to it as you read the prologue, for that “theme tune” experience. You can also buy Like a Ghost from iTunes.
I have other songs sprinkled throughout the book, for example Blue in Green by Miles Davis is mentioned in chapter 17. This music is played by an officer who is a Jazz buff. It is super classy, and revered by anyone who loves music. Brown uses his authority to decide what gets listened to in the armored car he is driven around in. To him it’s a way of emphasizing his status as leader, but a very smooth and subtle way, as you’ll see when you listen to the track.
Just for fun, Zombie by Irish rock band The Cranberries is mentioned in chapter 33. The chorus and driving guitars of this powerful song go through the head of a soldier called Savage whenever he is fighting zombies. Savage has no idea that the song is a protest song written about the troubled history and actual events in Ireland and the UK. To him it’s just a cool song to shoot zombies to.
So buy a copy from the link below, and don’t forget to put on the music while you’re reading.