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  1. Good Day: I'm James Spencer, a musicologist from Long Beach, California. I wanted to create a panel discussion on the key points to Bernard Herrmann's score for Hitchcock's Psycho. Psycho is the most iconic horror score of all time and set the bar to inspire other horror film composers to compose in a similar style. Here are some key points about Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score: 1. Scored for only String Orchestra using the whole voicing range of instruments: violins I and II, violas, cellos and double bass. Each line of music often was divided into two parts to create 8 to 10 voice harmony. 2. THE HITCHCOCK CHORD: The iconic jolting opening chords of Psycho became known as the Hitchcock Chord. It is technically a minor triad [b-flat, D flat, F] with the added dissonance of a Major 7th interval [A] =Bb, Db,F A over an F bass. The chord is dissonant, jolting and also ambiguous. Major and minor together. The chord can represent the duality of the main character Norman Bates.. Passive/Aggressive, Masculine/Feminine, Gentle/Dangerous. The strings create the effect with sforzandi (forceful) down bow. 3. The Use of Minor 2nd intervals for tension and unsettled feeling. The use of minor 2nds or half steps is used throughout Herrmann's score. It creates tension, dissonance and an unsettled feeling. This device would inspire John Williams when he created his iconic minor 2nd theme for the movie Jaws. 4. The use of Augmented 4th Intervals: Diabolus in Musica. Known as the Devil in Music as early as the Medieval period, The augmented fourth interval for example C to F# creates dissonant tension. In the City scene of Psycho (the voyeur scene of looking at Janet Leigh/Robert Walker in the Hotel room. We get in the high register of the strings ambiguous Perfect and Augmented descending fourths. The effect is not romantic, but eerie, unsettling, icy and cold. Like the decision of Janet's character to steal the money. It psychologically sets up the feeling that something is wrong. 5. Shower Scene: Hermann makes use of a device known as glissando. That is when the string players slide their fingers up the strings. Down with knife like sharp down bows, the string players would slide up to strings to specified notes. Often a Major 7th apart (from the Hitchcock Chord) to create the terrifying effect. 6. Use of harmonics, the wood of the bow for bowing and pizzicato for effects. Bernard Herrmann uses all kinds of effects for tension and drama. Harmonics is created by barely touching the strings to create very high pure overtones. The wood of the bow instead of the horse hair can create metallic and airy effects, Pizzicato is plucking the strings which also creates additional depth of texture. 7. Repeated ostinato: The famous 16th not triplet followed by an 8th note motif throughout the movie creates the psychotic feeling. It is one of the most recognized motifs in all of move musical scores. Here is a link where TCM students may watch the actual musical score for Psycho with the music. Enjoy! Thanks for joining me and feel free to comment or add any points. This is obviously just the basic overview of some important points of the score. I included links (Sorry the files were to large to download. Psycho discussed by James Spencer: Psycho Score with Music: James Spencer jamesrspencer.com
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