Main content

Can Music Scare Us?

Tom Service unearths the scariest pieces of music ever written and tricks composers are using, enlisting the help of director John Carpenter and neuroscientist Nathalie Gosselin.

Tom Service discovers the darker side of music in a Halloween edition of The Listening Service.

From Berlioz and Ligeti, to Don Giovanni and Psycho - there are some frankly terrifying pieces of music out there. But what is it about them that makes them scary - is it something in the music, or something in ourselves....

Tom enlists the help of the 'Halloween' director John Carpenter, who also composed its iconic eerie synthesiser score, and neuroscientist Nathalie Gosselin to unearth the fear factor in music.

Find out... if you dare...

Available now

29 minutes

Last on

Sun 29 Oct 2017 17:00

Music Played

  • Edvard Grieg

    In the Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt Suite No 1)

    Performer: James Rhodes. Music Arranger: Grigory Ginzburg.
    • Bullets & Lullabies; James Rhodes.
    • Warner.
    • 5.
  • Krzysztof Penderecki

    The Dream of Jacob

    Performer: Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Krzysztof Penderecki.
    • EMI.
  • Carl Maria von Weber

    Der Freischutz - Wolf's Glen Scene

    Performer: Staatskapelle Dresden. Performer: MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig. Performer: Carlos Kleiber.
    • DG.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Requiem - Dies Irae

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Gianandrea Noseda.
    • LSO.
  • György Ligeti

    Requiem - Kyrie

    Performer: The Bavarian Radio Orchestra. Performer: Francis Travis.
    • EMI.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Turn of the Screw

    Performer: Julian Leang. Performer: Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Performer: Daniel Harding.
    • Virgin.
  • Mark Korven

    Apprehension Engine

    Performer: Apprehension Engine.
  • Hector Berlioz

    Symphonie fantastique Op.14 - V.Songe d'une nuit du Sabbat

    Orchestra: Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester. Conductor: Daniel Harding.
    • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 14.
  • Bernard Herrmann

    Psycho

    Performer: National Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Bernard Herrmann.
    • Psycho.
    • Unikorn Kanchana.
  • Jerry Goldsmith

    Alien

    Performer: National Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Silva Screen.
  • Danny Elfman

    The Nightmare Before Christmas - Jack's Lament

    Performer: Danny Elfman.
    • The Nightmare Before Christmas.
    • Disney.
  • James Bernard

    The Horror of Dracula

    Performer: Studio Orchestra.
    • Varèse Sarabande.
  • Bernard Herrmann

    Vertigo (Prelude)

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Bernard Herrmann.
    • DECCA.
  • John Carpenter

    Halloween

    Performer: John Carpenter.
    • Halloween OST.
    • Varese Sarabande.
  • Alfred Schnittke

    Faust Cantata - Es Geschah

    Performer: Malmö SymfoniOrkester. Performer: Leif Segerstam.
    • BIS.
  • Michael Jackson

    Thriller

    • Thriller.
    • Epic.
    • 4.

Broadcast

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Love music? Looking for new ear-fodder for your commute? We've got you covered.

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Tom Service poses a very simple question (with a not-so-simple answer).

Six of the world's most extreme voices

Six of the world's most extreme voices

From babies to Mongolian throat singers: whose voice is the most extreme of all?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How Schoenberg opened a new cosmos for composers and listeners to explore.

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Bass is everywhere, but why do we enjoy it? Join Tom Service on a journey of discovery.

Watch the animations

Watch the animations

Join Tom Service on a musical journey through beginnings, repetition and bass lines.

When does noise become music?

When does noise become music?

We like to think we can separate “noise” from “music”, but is it that simple?

Podcast