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Music Editorial

johncarpenter18.jpg The sound of paranoia

In the build up to Halloween is any gig going to set your teeth on edge more than an encounter with film director and composer John Carpenter? (Answer: No.) He’s bringing his Anthology tour to the Tyne Theatre & Opera House in October.

Sound design, and a film’s score, have always been integral to the horror film. Think of the extra edge given to Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ by Bernard Herrmann’s screeching strings in the shower sequence. Similarly John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher classic ‘Halloween’ would lose a huge chunk of its appeal if you removed the nightmarish five-four time signature that he wrote for the film. The jingling piano/synth motif is set in motion throughout the film and it creates an enormous amount of unease within the viewer. Carpenter claims he wrote his own music for his early films simply because it was economical, but his electronic scores are integral to their success.

The bass-heavy electronic score for ‘Assault on Precinct 13’, for instance, manages to conjure an air of menace before we even know what’s going on; and the soundtrack he wrote for ‘The Fog’, in rhythm, composition and tone, lends another layer of supernatural complexity to the film. He outsourced scoring duties for his 1982 shocker ‘The Thing’ to the estimable Ennio Morricone (with input from Carpenter) and that collaboration resulted in the chilling dum-dumrefrain that thuds throughout the film. And ‘The Thing’ theme is, naturally, part of Carpenter’s Anthology set, which has been playing to ecstatic reviews around the world, and it’s great news that he’s bringing it to Newcastle. Just make sure that you don’t see it alone.

John Carpenter: Anthology Tour, Thursday 18 October, Tyne Theatre & Opera House, 7pm, from £35.50 (VIP tickets also available). tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk