Thursday, August 29, 2013

Haunting Music

I've been watching videos of yard haunts on youtube this evening. Every so often I find one that's REALLY special, and I add it to my Yard Haunt playlist.

One of the things that I look for in a good haunt video, is a unique soundtrack. Pretty much everybody uses "This is Halloween", "Thriller", or something from Midnight Syndicate, so when a haunter chooses a tune that is really unique it stands out.

This evening I found this video by HamlinHaunt, and the choice of music really complimented the great atmosphere of their haunt. It's a version of the 13th century latin hymn "Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath) a giant funeral mass for the end of the world, with a definite apocalyptic feel to it. I think most people know it as the theme music from The Shining.

There have been a number of excellent versions of the Day of Wrath throughout musical history, here is a version of the original Gregorian chant.

Here we have Amadeus Mozart's version of Dies Ira as part of his famous Requieum. It is a a soaring, yet personal lamentation of premature death.

Now we have Franz Liszt's Dies Irae, "Totentanz" the German term for the French "Danse Macabre" or dance of death.  Bombastic, brutal, like a piano being smashed beneath a hammer. Death leading dancers of stations both mighty and meek, into the grave; be they pope, emperor, king, child, or peasant, all face the same end, and the same uncompromising judgement, or so Liszt seems to say.

Now Verdi's Dies Irae, utterly epic. Whereas Liszt gave us an intimate dance of the dead, and Mozart gave us a soaring personal tragedy, Verdi's version suggests the whole earth being thrust up, overturned, and all of humanity thrown into confusion and turmoil.

Okay, bear with me, I know these are a lot of old dead classical composers, but hark, we now come to my personal favorite of all the versions of Dies Irae, Hector Berlioz' "Dreams of a Witches Sabbath" from his brilliant "Symphonie Fantastique" which is chock-full of amazing Halloween music. Seriously, put this on next time you set down to do some prop building, it will inspire you!

You may recognize many of these pieces from movies that you've seen in the past, and due to their popularity in cinema, there are tons of modern covers of Dies Irae. I'll leave you with this great folk-metal version of Totentanz from German band "Corvus Corax", and sort of take us full circle, heh heh.


  1. You have a good ear for fear my friend! I really enjoyed this post!

  2. That's a darling bit of doggerel you made there KED, I'll probably have to steal it, heh heh.

  3. I love the way the human mind's work. After reading this, and listening to the music, I find myself wanting to listen to my entire playlist on Gregorian chants, read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman in order to see the characters sway and sing as they Danse the Macabre. And, I definitely need to watch The Others... for Chopin's piece.

  4. You should Magaly! You know those Gregorian chants are powerful, well I don't want to say magic, but they were calculated to have specific effects for the listener, much as the vedic mantras, and chinese medicinal music do.