Horror Music Assignment – Written Report and Final Video




This is my final edit.


‘Isolated System’ – Muse

The song ‘Isolated System’ by Muse was released in 2012 and I do not think that it was created for ‘World War Z’ which released in 2013. ‘World War Z’  is a zombie horror. Isolated System uses many methods which our group discussed about for creating a soundtrack for a horror. It starts off quite simple. With the piano carrying the song for a long duration. Before the guitar comes in and gives the piano a backdrop. Then the beat drops in and the song starts to really kick off. Then it uses a technique which I have not seen before, that works really well with horror and the specific film. It uses extracts from the news in the middle section of the video. Some of which talk about about an ‘Isolated system’. I think that this works really well for both the song and for the film. It is a simple idea, but it is very effective. The song then declines and retracts to the original notes of the piano, before the song expands and everyone kicks off even more. Orchestral (choir) voices can then be heard at the end of the song. So the song expands and gets ‘out of hand’. Which I think is really good, because the film is about zombies, which is an outbreak that gets out of hand. It is similar to ‘In The House In A Heartbeat’ (the iconic John Murphy soundtrack for ’28 days later’). This is because like John Murphy’s score, it starts off slow and adds more instruments gradually as the song goes along before it get’s ‘out of hand’ and 28 Days Later is a zombie horror as well.

Angel’ – Massive Attack

‘Angel’ by Massive Attack is not an official horror soundtrack, but the reason why I chose this song is because it sounds like it could easily be used for a horror film. Again it is quite similar to both ‘In The House In A Heartbeat’ and ‘Isolated System’ in that it builds and contributes more instruments to the song as it goes along. The differences with this song are that it contains vocals, this is where you would know that it is a song and not a composed soundtrack. As well as that, the song partially goes back and forth in it’s tempo and how fast/slow paced it is. It builds up and then slowly brings the tempo down a bit, before building back up again. This song is quite simplistic as well as it is built up from just a baseline and beat, before everything else joins in, but these two aspects of the song remain throughout the video. Again like the others, the songs builds up and eventually gets ‘out of hand’, I think that if this song was to be used as a soundtrack, it would give a mysterious side to the film, because it makes you think something/someone is behind you and that you are not alone. This gives an unsettling, unnerving mood.

‘The Mercy Of The Living’ – Bear McCreary

I also really like this soundtrack, from the same show. This was featured in the exact same episode. It is not really a horror soundtrack about fear, but about loss. It gives the viewers and the main character (Rick), who has just woken up from a coma, and does not know what has happened, a sense of reality. Not about being scared about what is to come, but to feel sad about what has happened and what they have lost. That no-one can escape what has happened and they may never be able to stay the same people, who they were before.



This is the original clip (I edited from 1:27-4:29) (Apologies for the video quality)

I am not really a horror person myself, so I had to think hard about what scene I could potentially use for the Horror Music Assignment. But after a handful of options, I decided that I would attempt to create a soundtrack for a scene from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’. This is one of the first scenes from the first episode of the first season (although I have decided to cut a portion of the video out at the beginning and end). One of the reasons why I chose this particular clip from ‘The Walking Dead’ is because their wasn’t a soundtrack attached to the scene in the first place. Because of this, it means that I won’t be influenced by the existing soundtrack if their was one. But also because of this it means that I will have more freedom and flexibility in terms of sounds and ideas. Their will be more sounds available in terms of what I can and cannot use. I didn’t necessarily have a plan for what i was going to do. So one of the first things I did was that I looked at all of the shots that were used to see how powerful they were and what feelings and thoughts I got from these shots. And how the scene progresses from an audience’s perspective. So at first, I didn’t have any ideas about what specific sounds would be useful to me. So I thought that the best thing to do would be to go and record some sounds and then play around with them afterwards. By doing this, it might evoke some ideas.

Production Process

I was struggling to come up with ideas for what would be good to record, so I took out the tascam and started recording varying things in and around the Allen building. Their was a variety of things I recorded, either sounds that I deliberately made, or not. I then sounds into ‘Audacity’ and I played around with them, changing such things like distortion, bass, paulstretch, etc. But these were quite short clips and even so, I was still struggling to get my head around it and how I could edit these sounds. Because I wanted to be able to edit a long sound clip, as well as an idea that I could edit a song as if it was being played off the radio, I actually downloaded ‘Clint Eastwood’ (Not the remix) by ‘The Gorillaz’ and I started editing that on Audacity. As well as the ones that I had previously mentioned, I also used editing techniques such as reverse, wahwah, repeat, etc. By the end of this, I had a full song that was edited. And It actually works fairly well. I kept the sound of it quite low though, because it is meant to be coming off the radio. So as well as this, I also downloaded some short radio extracts and I edited those as well. I placed them on the clip, before the song kicked in, so right at the beginning. On that note, I also kept in the original sound from the video clip. This is because the only sound that was coming from it was doors and such, so it did not effect my soundtrack. I also downloaded some static radio sounds and placed them in with the radio extracts as well. As well as this I later recorded some more sounds using the tascam and one of which was cars. What I did with that particular recording is that I chose a small section from it and I slowed it right down. I then edited things like distortion, bass, etc. So you can no longer tell that it was originally a car. I then placed it all along the video (besides from the last 10 seconds or so). It sounds a bit like wind, but acts as an environmental background noise. The hospital is empty, so you are going to be able to hear everything in the building. During the part where Rick see’s the dead body, I added a brief sound which was edited from something like a door. Which again I edited and is now unnoticeable. I think that this sound works really well. This is also the first proper soundtrack recording I put in the video as oppose to soundscape (besides from the background environment noise). Following on from that, when the camera pans in on the body, I added a heartbeat like heartbeat like sound effect. This was just originally me slamming the wall with my hands. I then edited the sound on audacity with a few different effects, but particularly paulstretch because it didn’t last long enough. I then faded it out as Rick walked away. As Rick walks down the corridor, he see’s some bullet holes on the wall and lots of blood. For this I did too things. I edited a sound (which I cannot remember) and came up with a atmospheric like noise, suitable for flashbacks. This is because I also downloaded and included sound effects of guns and screams. This is because it gives a realisation to the situation. Rick doesn’t know what has happened and he is slowly discovering the truth of the situation. After watching the video several times however, I grew less fond of the sound of screams and guns, but I thought that I would keep it in anyway. One of the reasons for this is because it is nice to have a change of pace from the usual soundtrack and soundscape. But also because the atmospheric noise I included is fairly similar to other sounds that I included, either before or after this part of the video. Shortly after this section, I included a rising noise that brings tension to the situation. I think that this is really affective. This is at the point where Rick see’s the door and all the hands start to peek through it. While this rises, ‘The Gorillaz’ song becomes ever harder to hear, which is good, because it is kind of taking you out of the comfort zone of having music in the background. The rising tension noise cancels out the other noise that I had included throughout the video, because it becomes a lot louder than the other sound. Once Rick leaves the room, the rising tension noise stops in an instant. The reason for this is because he opens the door and it is a loud noise. Rising noises usually have something at the end of them, so for it to build up and not have anything at the end would be ineffective. The noise of the door slamming opening works really well. While this happens, the atmospheric tension noise, which I had included throughout the video is still their, but now it is going down and not building up. Right at the end of the video where Rick goes into the lift, I included another noise. This is loud and unpleasant. Although this noise isn’t very long, it builds and is matched by another slamming door. Originally this sound was a spinning coin. I edited this on audacity, changing various things about it. It is unnoticeable from the original for the most part.


What went well

  • I really like the layering of soundtrack. I used a simple atmospheric soundtrack which sounded similar to wind which ran through out, I also used a subtle tension rising atmospheric soundtrack, which also ran through out. But most successfully was the rising tension that occurs when Rick see’s the door which says ‘Don’t Open Dead Inside’. This works really well in my opinion. So the reason for that would have been Audacity. Once I started to understand it, I really understood it and I changed recognisable noises into unrecognisable soundtracks.
  • I think that ‘Clint Eastwood’ by ‘The Gorillaz’ works quite well. Not really well. But still quite well. I think that I should have tried to make it quieter, the further Rick moved towards the door with door with the zombies behind it. As well as using effects to make the music sound distant, perhaps making it play through one headphone more than the other. As well as maybe making it a little quieter. I think that I am pleased with the effects that I used on the song in Audacity. Something strange about the song is I edited it all on Audacity, before placing it onto the video clip. And it ironically, changed between playing normally and edited at good parts. For instance, when Rick see’s the body, the music slows down and when he starts walking away it speeds up. I had not timed them to do that, but it fortunately changed at good points during the song.
  • Although it is quite subtle, the main layering sound, which sounds like wind and a little like energy running off machines, works quite well. The hospital is empty, so Rick could hear anything, and so that was one of the reasons why I put it in their. If it was a clip with multiple people, then I probably wouldn’t have done so. Since their is no-one their, he is able to hear almost everything.
  • It think that the (almost) ending works well, where the tension rises and then Rick slams open the door. If you are going to rise tension, you have to cancel it out with something afterwards, and the door slam does just that. It is loud and a bit of a shock.
  • I also like to an extent, some of the radio sound effects. Some of them I edited myself. And some of them, I just downloaded and put straight in. The edited ones work better. But I still like the downloaded ones anyway.

What I could have improved on

  • I am not overly keen on the gun and scream noises. I think that in order for them to be properly successful, I would have needed to have edited them more. The volume was perhaps not right. But also, their were not that many effects that I used on them in Audacity. So I should have spent more time on that.
  • I think that if I was to do something similar, it would be good to use a clip, where I could completely trip the sound. I know that it wasn’t too much of an issue, keeping the original sound in their as well, because of it not having a soundtrack. But to be able to do all of the soundscape for it as well, would have been really cool. As well as adding more to the soundscpae, which I already used.
  • Next time, as I will be a bit more confident with it, I think that I should go deeper into the planning beforehand. So that I can identify certain sounds that I am after.
  • I need to get to grips with Garage Band. I did not use it at all. I didn’t understand Audacity and now I do, so why can’t I later understand Garage Band.






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