Spooky Sounds and Scary Tales

Beware the Scare!


Spooky Sounds and Scary Tales was originally presented as a concert by the National Symphony Orchestra in The Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Composers sometimes write spooky and scary music to go with plays, ballets, movies, poems, and even operas about supernatural (not real) creatures and events. Sometimes music "tells" a story all by itself--and that's how you'll hear stories that inspired the music and what to listen for in the recordings. Simply dust the cobwebs off your ears (just kidding) and warm up your imagination. Happy Haunting!

Think About...

Think about a scary or exciting movie scene that used music. How would that scene have seemed different without the music, or with different music? Often, when movie music does a good job at helping to create a mood, you might not even notice it is there!

The music in a theater performance, television show, or movie often tells you that something scary might happen. But how? To create frightening music, composers might use:

  • fast tempos (speeds) that can give a sense of alarm, wildness, or a chase.
  • very slow tempos, often with lower notes, that suggest someone or something might be sneaking up on you.
  • high-pitched notes that can represent a wicked laugh or whirling wind.
  • different combinations of tones to create unpleasant or uneasy sounds.

Learn More

Want to download spooky music? Visit our iTunes Playlist.

Dig Deeper!

Learn more about spooky orchestral music.

Create a "monster mix" at Scholastic's Goosebumps site.




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