Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Music & Performing Arts


Music Major, Concentration in Recording

First Advisor

Jeffrey Jones

Second Advisor

Lanier Sammons


My Capstone Research Paper will be an analysis on the usage of “scary” sounds performed in popular music as well as a comparison to the practice of using similar sounds in film, making a note of any similarities or differences (ex. audience perception, use of visuals). I will also touch on the integration of scary sound effects alongside music scoring for film, specifically in the Horror and Suspense genres. With popular music being my primary focus, I want to elaborate on the cognitive psychology of audiences (in film and music) and their reactions to "scary" or "horrific" sounds to better explain the compositional process behind the integration of scary sounds. For context, I want to address the past usages of scary sounds in popular music and also cover some history of sound design and scoring in Horror films as well, showing how things have changed/stayed consistent over time, ie the incorporation of sound into film.

My definition of a scary sound is “A sound that, once perceived by an audience, brings on a reaction or feeling within the listeners of being afraid, uncomfortable, nervous, or uneasy. These can be unrecognizable and/or ultra- recognizable scary sounds, for example a gunshot versus a sawtooth wave on a synth at 60Hz”.