“Probably the most famous and most imitated cue in film music”
Steven C. Smith
Alfred Hitchcock’s initial thinking about Psycho soundtrack
Initially Alfred Hitchcock wanted a minimal soundtrack with silence for scenes among them was also the unforgettable shower scene. Bernard Herrmann had worked with Alfred Hitchcock on the director’s last five films, suggested a score solely for strings. As we know Alfred Hitchcock approach was to film Psycho on black - and - white format, he wanted a monochrome visual, so Bernard Herrmann wanted to create a soundtrack to match the black - and - white film.
Bernard Herrmann’s approach to Psycho
Bernard wanted his soundtrack to match with the black and white format of Psycho. Hermmann composed a soundtrack based solely on strings (black and white sound).
Alfred Hitchcock was impressed by the Hermmann’s exceptional work and especially by “screaming violins”. Soundtrack of Psycho added tension and drama according to a large number of critics “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music”.
The string approach obviously offered many opportunities to Hermmann, beyond his effort to match the music with a black - and - white format, there was also the low budget. Herrmann for Psycho soundtrack used only a string orchestra raher than a full symphonic ensemble. Also, there was the flexibility of creativity that strings offer to composer. Strings offer more choices in tone, dynamics and instrumental special effects.
Highlights of Psycho soundtrack
At the first act of the film (during the first 15 - 20 minutes) Alfred Hitchcock introduces to the audience Marrion and her relationship with Sam Loomis and her decision to take $ 40.000 from a customer and run away - there is nothing socking, so, for the first act, Hermmann used the opening title music theme.
Herrmann mamipulates audience and keeps tension through moments without optical violence, suspense or agony by using the same persistently repeatable music phase called ostinato.
The impact of Psycho Soundtrack
According to a survey conducted by PRS for Music (2009) proofed that British audience considers, the shower scene soundtrack the scariest theme from any horror film. Steven C. Smith biographer of Bernard Herrmann believes that shower scene score “is probably the most famous and most imitated cue in film music”.
Honors to Psycho Soundtrack
The San Fransisco Sympony to honor the 50th anniversary pf Psycho (2010), projected the film without soundtrack and they performed the score live.