Bernard Hermann: Psycho:
A friend told us a story of this music suddenly being played in a bookshop he was in and, all of a sudden, all the customers wanted to leave – immediately. The customers weren’t sure why, but they wanted to be elsewhere. The incessant violin bow strokes don’t leave you a chance to get even your last breath.
Horror doesn’t only happened in the household – it also has a long career in space, with everything from the ominous music begun in the cellos in Arthur Bliss’ music for Things to Come,
Arthur Bliss: Things to Come, IV: Attack
to the slow winding down of HAL the computer as he sings “Daisy,” the effect heightened by the cicada-like electronic sound above it
2010: A Space Odyssey: HAL 9000 Sings “Daisy”
Monster movies also have their own dark sides. In the main title theme music for Godzilla, Japanese composer Akira Ifukube has been able to add a hint of the remorselessness of the monster’s invasions through the insistent beat in his music, begun with long silences after the drum beats and the portentous heavy melody in the low brass.
Akira Ifukube: Godzilla, King of the Monsters: Main title theme
In his music for the 1985 remake of Godzilla, Rejiro Koroku makes it clear from the beginning that this is horror music: the low held note, the tragic trumpet lines, the abrupt breaking melodic lines, and even when a tiny high melody comes in, there are still shivering strings below.
Rejiro Koroku: Godzilla 1985: Main title
All three elements come together in all these examples to scare us: low resonant tones, high frightening violins, and sharp percussion.