A level Music (Edexcel) set works wider listening - Herrmann

by Liz Dunbar @HuntSchoolMusic

For some reason everyone seems to know the music from the shower scene in 'Psycho'. It's a thing, but how come, when 'Psycho' is more than 60 years old? The film not only broke new ground in terms of both its camerawork and plot, but also for Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score.  Like Burton and Elfman, Stravinsky and Diaghilev, Cage and Cunningham, Alfred Hitchcock's partnership with Herrmann was a perfect meeting of minds.

In 'Psycho', Hermann matches Hitchcock's bleak, black and white images (it could have been in colour) by using a single timbral palette.

Herrmann's use of sonority is a far cry from the lush Hollywood strings of his contemporaries, yet he still manages to say so much with material largely based on ostinati and sequence.  The obsession of the film's story line is reflected in Herrmann's use of leitmotif, which has echoes of the unrequited love of Berlioz 'Symphonie Fantastique' and Wagner 'Tristan und Isolde'.

Here's an ever evolving playlist to provide you with plenty of wider listening references to use in questions 5 and 6.