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Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Halloween music is, I think, some of the more interesting music out there. First off, it rarely has words--it goes straight for the visceral! The techniques described in this newsletter are used for the sole purpose of invoking sinister imagery.

This week we're looking at things that make music sound spooky, from weird instruments to interesting musical techniques!

So put on your witch's hat, drink up a fortifying potion, and read on!


No, not underaged kids who show up at your house in strange costumes. The one thing virtually all Halloween music has in common is that it uses a very particular collection of notes designed to sound "sad" or meloncholy.

This is what is called a minor scale, and perfectly invokes "spooky" or "sad."


Dissonance in music happens when notes clash. It's what happens when two sounds that "shouldn't" go together are forced together.

This can happen at the same moment in time, or from one note to another. A lot of times in Halloween music the melody doesn't go where you think it's going to... but hangs out in dissonance!

BONUS FIEND: The scariest instrument out there!

We all know the scary movie trope of the axe murderer, and it's SPOOKY to think of garden tools being used for unsavory things! But one musical instrument takes the cake for being the scariest: the saw!

Yes, you heard me right. A regular saw. No special design or trick: you can literally go out to your shed, find a saw and start playing it.

Of course, it can be a gorgeous instrument in its own right. This version of Gounod's Ave Maria is stunningly beautiful.


Other sounds you'll hear in spooky Halloween music are:

  • chimes

  • pipe organs

  • old-sounding pianos

  • brass sections (in minor they sound way creepier!)

  • flutes

  • oboes

Whether you go out to a costume party or stay tucked in safe and sound for the night, keep your ears open for different kinds of musical sounds this Halloween!

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