Spooky scales history dates back to nineteenth-century composers. The history can be traced down to Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt, who were prominent composers of the nineteenth century. This article is a deep analysis of evil Sounding scales or simply put, spooky scales.
Historical Development of Spooky Scales
Before the time of Liszt and Wagner, music was expected to serve as a source of praise so it was mostly soul-lifting.
Scales that dominated the industry were mostly high praise and chilling scales. However, the story changed since Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner cracked the code during the nineteenth century.
Although Liszt and Wagner’s scale still dominated the foundation of the spooky scales, many other composers have developed it even more. Spooky scales fall into the category called “diablous in musica” by people during the Renaissance period. Which simply means Satan in Music.
The most popular earliest spooky scales are played in historical plays, operas, and funerals. However, these are during the gravest of circumstances.
For example in catholic plays to depict the crucifixion of Jesus Christ or to introduce the presence of Satan in a play. Other examples are shown in sad operas, and particularly during funerals. There are a couple of popular ones that dominated the early era of spooky scale.
Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz
This scale was played as an invocation of the Dies Irae (day of wrath). The scale was played in line with experimenting with the Catholic doom-evoking music of the thirteenth century.
The scale was so eerie that most people had to conclude Berlioz might probably be on an opium overdose to write such a spooky scale.
Well, for someone who tried to kill his fiancee, opium might be the least you’ll expect him to take. Great composers after Berlioz including Brahms and Chopin have sampled the scale.
Dante Sonata by Liszt
Going through a couple of Liszt scales and compositions, it won’t be out of place to say he has quite an obsession with the devil.
Liszt is known by many to be the pioneering composer of spooky and eerie piano pieces. A more popular piece of Liszt is the “Dance of Death”.
According to Liszt, the “dance of death” piece is written in tandem with the medieval era allegory where the dead come to remind the living of the inevitability of death.
Evil Sounding Scales
Producing an evil Sounding scale may be a bit difficult particularly for a beginner. This is because it has been programmed in most beginners’ brains that the only way listeners could enjoy a good scale is by adding some rhythm to the piece.
However, a well-arranged spooky scale can help you keep the audience at the edge of their seat and evoke the spooky effect. To produce your spooky-sounding scales, below are some steps that can help you along.
1. Remember, Minor is the key
According to most researchers, notably Dr. Vicky Williamson “the major key is generally associated with joyful sounding tone whereas minor, not so much”.
This is particularly a result of the way the ear processes these two tones. While the major is processed as happy, joyful, cheerful and so on, the minor is processed as sad, terrifying, or negative.
The third minor is therefore said to be attributed to fright, sadness, and such feelings. Hence a good place to start.
As a foundation for playing a spooky scale, use the third minor (also called the devil’s minor) to begin your scale.
This scale makes your piece sound spooky, even if you’re playing a nursery rhyme. Another easy step is to convert major scale to minor using the formula of whole-half-whole-whole-half-whole-whole i.e A-B-C-E-D-F-G-A.
2. Build up the tempo
One of the most important ingredients of spooky scales is the tempo. Get the tempo right and you are on your way to making your scale spooky.
The question most beginners will ask however is “what is the right tempo?” Well, the truth is there is no generic answer to that.
Every piece has a tempo unique to the effect it produces. Increasing or decreasing the tempo of a scale will have a different effect. A beginner guide to using the right tempo for your scale includes
- Improvise the rhythm repeatedly: start the scale on a direct progression then restart again with a progressively changing rhythm. this pattern follows the principle of inversion with 2 minor chords and a minor 3rd that is separate from the earlier two. This separation should be in separate inversion as you play the chord back and forth with a progressive rhythm. Since this is not rigid, try to get comfortable with a style you would love with the particular scale you are playing.
- Use a tremolo: tremolo simply refers to the way you rock a particular set of notes back and forth. This style will help you add an extra effect to the scale. Divide your scale into two parts and rock them back and forth a couple of times till you have finally gotten comfortable with this style. This will make your scale sound a lot creepier.
- Freestyle: a more comfortable way to get into the mood fully is to add some extra minor notes to your scale independently. This little addition with the rocking effect sends a chill down the spine and will help you build up a real Halloween tempo.
3. Spread your scale
Spreading scales on different instruments may help you produce an amazing evil-sounding scale.
Paying spooky scales on the keyboard may be all the fun you need as it helps you spread all the notes. The xylophone may be better at playing tingling sounds than the harp or piano.
Spooky Scale Practice Piece
The truth is you can practice evil-sounding scales with almost any musical piece. This can be pulled off by converting the major scales to minor and following the guiding principles listed above.
However, listed below are four easy selections of spooky pieces to practice.
- The Dragon Scale by Peter Hodgson
- Funeral March (Sonata Op.35) by Chopin
- Toccata (Von) by J.S. Bach
- Imperial March by John Williams
Spooky scale or better called Devil’s interval as popularly referred to by most composers is a Halloween and scary-themed piece. This article is a guide on the identification and a beginner guide to writing and playing your piece successfully.