Arts

From ‘Beetlejuice’ To ‘Hocus Pocus’: Exploring The Spooky Sounds Of Halloween

WABE music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart discusses his picks for Halloween movie music that is a bit less frightening, but none the less filled with that spooky spirit.
WABE music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart discusses his picks for Halloween movie music that is a bit less frightening, but none the less filled with that spooky spirit.

It’s almost Halloween and while things may be a little different this year due to pandemic protocols, “City Lights” can still help get you into the spooky spirit of late October. Along with costumes, candy and fall weather, music plays an important role in this festive holiday.

Halloween is full of great music from horror films to classical music that has been co-opted from gothic tales, creepy literature and poetry. In the past, “City Lights” has checked out music from epic horror movie classics like “Halloween,” “The Shining,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” or “The Omen,” but this year WABE music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart brought something a bit different. Halloween movie music that is a bit less frightening, but none the less filled with that spooky spirit.

The beautifully haunting music of Pixar’s film ‘Coco’:

“I tip my hat to Michael Giacchino for bringing the rich tradition of Mexican music into this soundtrack without ‘over Hollywood-izing it.’  We hear guitars and marimbas, pan flutes and violins, flamenco and mariachi, and even a few folk instruments.  But, mostly, we hear sensitive scoring that enhances every aspect of the story. An emotional highlight is ‘Crossing the Marigold Bridge’—a beautiful piece of music unto itself—as Miguel views the Land of the Dead for the first time.”

The wildly quirky score of ‘Beetlejuice’:

“Zany is the first descriptor that comes to mind when I think of ‘Beetlejuice.’ Danny Elfman had scored ‘Pee Wee Herman’ for Burton in 1985, but this still was only his sixth film in his career.  In many ways, the sound we identify as quintessential Elfman are all wrapped up in this soundtrack—gigantic Hollywood orchestra, electronic overlay, theater organ, aggressive polkas, waltzes, tangos, and circus band music.”

The classic music of ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ from 1966:

“For me, it’s an instant time warp that throws me back to growing-up days. This music—highlighted by the lonely flute and chilly piano runs–is magically evocative of fall and cheery Halloween memories.”

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