Running Head: THE TERRIFYING EFFECT OF MUSIC IN PSYCHO
TheTerrifying Effect of Music in Psycho
Psychois a 1960 movie by Alfred Hitchcock belonging to the horror genre.The storyline of the entire movie revolves around bloody terror. Theuse of kitchen knife by a serial killer, Victorian, slashing MarionCranes was very unpredictable, violent, and extremely scarily. One ofthe key contributing factors to the scary effect of moviesincludingPsychois sound. Music plays a critical role in advancing the theme of themovie in many different ways. It creates an environment that impactsviewers’ conscience to the point of imagination (Covell, 2013). Italso generates certain sensation in the viewers that essential inadvancing the objective of the movie. In most cases, viewersassociate different emotions presented in scenes with various soundseffects produced in the background. Approximately 50 percent of themovie’s effect originated from non diagetic sound, music. The useof music bypassed the use of shadows, camera angles, and murders insending chills down the spine. The paper aims at expounding on theuse of music in generating a terrifying effect on the viewers ofPsycho.It also contributes in the advancement of the storyline.
Differentsounds were used in this movie to pass different message. Throughoutthe movie, events start with a low tone music which later becomeslouder and louder. The soft music in Psychowas aimed at introducing the viewer to things that are yet to happen.When the viewer hears the music, he or she prepares themselves for amajor incident that advances the course of the entire movie. The loudmusic in the movie reflects the seriousness of the storyline. Whenthe viewer hears the loud music, he or she affirms that whatever wasintroduced by the soft music is about to happen. It is at this pointthat the viewers consider closing their eyes not to experience thedeadly attack on innocent characters.
Psychois the scariest movie I have ever watched. The screeching sound inaddition to violin increased the harshness of the activities thattake place in the movie and they result in some suspicion that makesviewers glue their eyes on the screen to identify the subsequent whathappen to feel (Lerner, 2009). The violin is animperative sound inPsycho which is not only impact-full but also remembered. Thescreeching violin sounds in the movie develops an environment ofstoryline that does need theuse of dialogue to convey the intendedmessage. For instance, it is apparent that there is no hiding when aperson watches Psycho. The concentrated composition of music in themovie adds extreme suspense as well as creates tension to the viewers(Lerner, 2009). Whether eyes are concealed from or glued on thescenes, the viewer senses the atmosphere tastes the fear ofcharacters and senses the insanity of Norman through music.
Someof the scenes that portray the terrifying effect of music in Psychoinclude “Bates Motel,” “The Shower,” and “Arbogast MeetsMother.” In Bates Motel scene, Marion drives away with $40,000 fromPhoenix to Bates Motel which is characterizedby Hitchcock’s musicand voice that make the audience uncomfortable. The background musicin Bates Motel makes the audience not only to imagine but alsodevelop fear about what will happen on Marion. In “The Shower”scene, the audience hears only the sound of water when Marion takes ashower. However, the sound of the water is later accompanied withthescreeching of violins when Norman opens the curtain to the shower.The music together with Marion’s screaming as a result of Norman’sstabbing makes the scene very disturbing to the audience (Hitchcock,1960). In the same scene, the audience notes that the music stopswhen Marion collapses on the floor. From the activities that tookplace in this murder scene, a person can conclude that music was veryimportant in creating the scary effect in Psycho.The surprising effect of music in the movie is also well expressed in“Arbogast Meets Mother” scene (Lyons, 2013). At the start of thescene, music portrays detective Arbogast’s nosy intentions. As heenters the building of Norman Bates and Mother, the music createssuspense, making the audience to develop an urge of wanting to knowwhat next feel (Lyons, 2013). The gentle music played as the movie’sbackground music signifies things to come. As Arbogast climbs thestairs to mother’s room, the sound of the music becomes louder andlouder (Hitchcock, 1960). This is one part of the scene that sticksout. It is the point that reminds the audience about what is about tocome. As Arbogast finally gets to the top of the stairs, the musicchanges to the music that was noted in “The Shower” scene. Thescreeching of violins results in a bone-chilling feel in theaudience. The scary feeling in the audienceis backed with what takesplace in the room a figure walked with a knife hastily to Arbogastand stabbed him unknowingly (Hitchcock, 1960). Just like the showerscene, Hitchcock in addition to violin screech played uncomfortablemusic to generate a terrifying effect to help build the theme of themovie.
Inconclusion, the murders that take place in Psycho alone could nothave made the movie horrific as Hitchcock intended without somesounds that elucidate fear. It is the background music that generatedthe scary effect that Hitchcock wanted in producing the movie.Similarly, the murders would have occurred as surprises to theviewers if music was not accompanied by the scenes. As it was arguedbefore, the background music prepared the viewers for the things thatwere to happen in different scenes. Throughout the film, viewersdevelop fear when they heard specific sounds. For instance, thescreeching of violins was associated with death by the viewers afterseeing many deaths taking place when such sounds were produced. Thus,Hitchcock used music not only to create suspense but also to createfear in viewers. He also used music to prepare viewers for what wasabout to happen in the film. Without music, Psycho would not havereceived recognition as an outstanding horror movie. The theme of themovie was also developed greatly by music.
Covell,A. (2013). Analysisof Sound and Music in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho(1960). Retrieved December 11 2016.https://celluloidwickerman.com/2013/12/16/analysis-of-sound-and- music-in-alfred-hitchcocks-psycho-1960-part-1/
Hitchcock,A. (1960). Psycho.Retrieved December 11, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GF_A6K9TwI
Lerner,N. (2009). Musicin the Horror Film: Listening to Fear.New York: Routledge.
Lyons,M. (2013). ArbogastMeets Mother- Genre Scene.Retrieved December 11, 2016. https://morganvislit.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/arbogast-meets-mother-genre-scene/