Send Chills Down Your Spine: Music and Horror

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Gil Harel presented a special lecture on the power of music in horror movies. We selected “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley as our 2020 One Book One Community Read, so this lecture was part of this…

Send Chills Down Your Spine: Music and Horror

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On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Gil Harel presented a special lecture on the power of music in horror movies. We selected “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley as our 2020 One Book One Community Read, so this lecture was part of this program.

From the pulsating strings in the shower scene of Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” to the intensifying grind of the “Jaws” theme, to more recent examples in shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “Stranger Things,” music has played a paramount role in the genre of horror. Indeed, without sound, even the most terrifying scenes on the screen would be significantly diminished in their potency.

During this program, Dr. Gil Harel (Assistant Professor of Music, NVCC) discussed the ingredients which make music so effective at conveying horror. In addition to the aforementioned works, he will also discuss iconic scenes from films including “The Omen,” “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween,” “Scream,” and more. Through a discussion of timbre, tone color, harmony, dissonance, and other special effects, audience members can expect to get a peek behind the curtain and understand one of the most effective tools a film director has in “sending chills down your spine.”

About the Presenter
Gil Harel (PhD, Brandeis University) is a musicologist and music theorist whose interests include styles ranging from western classical repertoire to jazz. Previously, he has served on the faculty at CUNY Baruch College, where he was awarded the prestigious “Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching”, as well as the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China. Currently, he teaches at Naugatuck Valley Community College, where he was presented with the “Merit Award for Exemplary Service to the College.” At NVCC, Dr. Harel conducts the college chorale, a cappella ensemble, teaches music history and theory, and serves as musical director of theater productions. Outside of teaching, he enjoys staying active as a pianist and vocalist.

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