Halloween is a beloved holiday filled with many fun traditions, such as pumpkin carving, costume parties, and scary movies. What is the central theme here? Spooky ambiance! Along with this comes music to set the mood and send shivers down your spine. Let’s take a journey through the enchanting world of Halloween music and talk about its history!
The History of Halloween
The origins of Halloween can be traced back to Celtic tradition and the celebration of the ancient Celtic festival, Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”). This festival marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, but this was also a time when there was said to be a blurred boundary between the living and the dead. To ward off the evil and malevolent spirits, the Celts would hold bonfires accompanied by drumming and chanting.
As time passed and Halloween evolved into what we know it today, the holiday absorbed various cultural influences. One of the most significant contributors to Halloween music is the tradition of dressing in costume and going door-to-door for food or coins, or in today’s setting: trick-or-treat! This idea of “guising” or dressing in a costume inspired many Halloween-themed songs and plays.
Within modern popular music, we’ve been graced by many famous Halloween tunes or songs that are associated with Halloween. One of the most popular songs for this time of year is Thriller by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. This song not only gives spooky vibes through the music, but the music video really sets the tone. The music video, which serves more as a short film, features a storyline with dialogue, character development, and even a plot twist! Other songs that are popular during this time of year include This is Halloween from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Time Warp from the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers.
Classical music is also known for its haunting Halloween-esque repertoire. Pieces such as “Night on Bald Mountain'' (Muggorgsky) and “Danse Macabre” (Saint-Saëns) evoke supernatural and eerie themes. Some of the most notable songs we know of use certain instruments, such as the organ. Composers such as Bach and Liszt have created beautifully haunting pieces using the organ. One of the most notable pieces that people associate with Halloween and particularly Dracula is Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J.S. Bach.
Another instrument that we associate with horror-esque music is the violin. The timbre of the violin, especially if played in a specific way, can produce an eerie sound. Through the various and wide range of tones, violins can be very expressive. One of the most well-known songs that showcases the “screech” of the violin is the “Psycho Theme” by Bernard Hermann from the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.
In conclusion, Halloween music is a large blend of ancient traditions, modern classics, and beautifully eerie instrumentals. As the witching hour approaches, check out our own Halloween playlist curated by the staff here at Loud & Clear Music School. Enjoy all your spooky celebrations!
Listen to our festive playlist on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/57HyC9FQaA1p5hcFho1FvW?si=1061913a30db4a47&fbclid=IwAR01uKliHxaiiemQgqqPvbKjYDXDXVapF3gmCF9l95_-bG4qLuDdFfzxtS8&nd=1