Tech Tip:Halloween Tech Tip

By Sinned Yrubmak

How to invoke tremulous tones from your gear:


All the great fright flick directors know—the movie isn't truly scary until the soundtrack is laid in! Where would Psycho be without its detuned string stabs? All washed up! Think about Jaws without the deep and ominous ostinato. It might have been Spielberg's last movie!


As musicians, it's sometimes our job to add a bit of musical madness to the soundtrack of Halloween Eve. This week's tech tip presents a few methods for digging some brain-munching zombie tones from your musical crypt!

Recipe for musical madness (play separately or together):


Guitar - Use lots of reverb! Play behind the bridge or nut to get spidery chitter. With a metal pick, tap on your pickups to create cavernous drips, and scrape your wound strings slowly to evoke creaking doors, rattling chains, or sawing bones! Drastically detune your E string for an eerie flapping sound. For more aggressive sounds, combine heavy distortion, feedback, and wah pedal action to call up screamin' meemies and wailin' witches.


Bass - Get down deep with big, lumbering footsteps, heartbeats, and other menacing, gut-rumbling sounds. Think tritones and mystery. If you have a bow, hit it around the bridge for some really ghostly cries!


Drums - You've got a massive amount of paranoia potential! Try using brushes to evoke thick spider nests, dragging zombie appendages, or skittering rat feet. Use a bow on your crash cymbal to open dungeon doors or create the vampire's first breath. Thunder; lightning; rain;—it's all at your command! Use this power wisely, and you'll have 'em quakin' in their boots!


Keyboards - Get sample-happy, and create splits using background wind noise, wolf-howls, grunts, growls, and other traditional fright-night fare. Create a double layer that plays two tremolo strings samples together, detuned by one semi-tone, for a very Hitchcock sound. Set up a few backwards phrases. Something like "I'm going to the kitchen for some Coke" played in reverse will have a very chilling effect, and will give "backward-masking" watchdogs something to agonize over!