Whether you are scoring a scary film or not, these 7 best Kontakt libraries built for horror and thriller music are invaluable for scare tactics.
Let’s first understand why humans get scared. There are certain features in horror film scores that make us uneasy and tense, and jump-scares solely use our hard-wired survival reactions. The second you hear something loud and sudden, your adrenaline gland becomes active, and your heartbeat rises.
However, nowadays, many filmmakers agree that jump-scares are “cheap” ways to frighten people. So, what other ways do we have to keep our audience at the edge of their seat?
Why Is Horror Music Scary?
The brain has an almond-shaped nucleus (region) within the temporal lobes called the amygdala. It’s responsible for memory processing, decision-making, and generating emotional responses, including fear, aggression, and anxiety. Horror scores stimulate the amygdala using rhythm, dissonance, and expectations.
Let’s go into these in more detail:
A steady rhythm such as heartbeats, footsteps, water dripping, etc., tends to make people uneasy when continued for too long. Furthermore, increasing the pace gradually makes the brain anxious and panicked. The reason is it simulates a hunting animal catching up to its prey.
Our brain is used to listening to harmonies. So, a dissonance feels alienating and even frightening. The dissonance could be in a melody or a chord. However, some kinds of music tend to use what we call dissonance as part of their scales. So, “dissonance” and “harmony” themselves are subjective, which is something you should keep in mind for localizing a score.
Establishing a scale or an instrument and randomly switching to something else without warning is an example of playing with people’s expectations. Similarly, an effective jump-scare also defies people’s expectations.
What Instruments Are Used In Horror Music?
While any instrument could play a creepy melody, some traditional, although arguably cliche, horror instruments include the apprehension engine, water-phone, theremin, church organ, prepared piano, and strings. The apprehension engine and the theremin, in particular, have seen a lot of use in horror scores.
Contemporarily, though, you could achieve bizarre sounds by randomizing the synths on the market today. For example, Native Instruments Absynth 5 is a superb synth for effortlessly generating strange and eerie soundscapes. In the Free Downloads section, you can also find our atmospheric, dark, and deep sound presets for Absynth 5. Other possible digital instruments include modular synths, granular synths, and samplers to manipulate your recordings.
Top 7 Kontakt Libraries For Horror & Thriller Scoring 2023
1. Audio Imperia Constrictor
The latest library from Audio Imperia is a haunted graveyard full of weird and scary orchestral string articulations that are sure to send chills down your spine and that of your listeners.
Constrictor Cinematic Tension Strings seems well-positioned to capitalize on a desire for what the uninitiated may consider being a somewhat niche market, as the team behind Audio Imperia is comprised of a collective of professional composers and media creatives and will, I’m sure, be well aware of this.
Additionally, the need for a tension string collection may not be as unique as initially thought, given the current market popularity of suspense, thrills, and scares.
- Pyramid Engine
Pyramid, the moniker given to Audio Imperia’s custom Kontakt engine, is currently used by Constrictor and the vast majority of other upgraded existing Audio Imperia symphonic libraries. This is a good idea for sighted users, as having a consistent user experience across libraries streamlines finding and accessing information.
- Dark Pleasures and Hidden Treasures
You will find the Basses’ “Skin Crawlers” preset particularly interesting, with its long bowed bass sustain that can transition to a scratchy tremolo when the modwheel is moved up, and it is ideal for adding some unsettling tension and malice to a score.
Notable, too, are the ‘random stabs’ presets, which, as the name implies, continuously rotate the samples via round robins of a Bernard Herrmann-style Psycho string stab—something that, of course, would have been glaringly absent from a product of this ilk if they hadn’t included it.
There are a few default settings that include musical bar lengths; however, we may need to experiment before we can reliably use these to hit a cue point, as the samples need to be tempo-synced, and the core tempo needs to be provided. A time stretch and tempo algorithm built into the engine is helpful when a library contains time and duration based presets, as it allows media composers to hit crucial onscreen cues.
The library is available for Kontakt 6.2.1 or higher. Kontakt 6.2.1 is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.10 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2, AU, and AAX formats.
Without a doubt, Audio Imperia Constrictor’s Cinematic Tension Strings is the most extensive and unmatched collection of tension string articulations available. Having such a terrifying creature in your composition toolkit will greatly assist in achieving the aforementioned vital textures.
Rich and dynamic, the sounds deliver all the tension, suspense, menace, and frights promised by the packaging. Especially when paired with some deep, impactful percussion, they will do an excellent job of scaring your audience.
2. Native Instruments Thrill
Thrill is considered a complete solution for horror scoring, and it’s for a good reason.
Native Instruments did it again with this terrific library in collaboration with Galaxy Instruments. You can find compelling sounds quickly without a lot of tweaking or being a sound designer.
The library is divided into two categories: Orchestral and Hybrid. Orchestral includes strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, and tutti. Similarly, the Hybrid section includes orchestral, metal, circuits, ambient, and voices categories. The library comes with over 40GB of samples.
- Two Layers (Thrills)
You can control the sound of the two layers via the morph controller in the middle. The presets are designed so that you can achieve a variety of complementary sounds using the XY-pad alone. Create dark textures, atmospheres, dying machines, eerie timbres, custom-built clusters, and many more.
- The Source Page
On the Source page, you can change the core parameters like each layer’s volume, pan, and pitch and their clusters. This page also lets you select a sound source for each of your layers. There are two kinds of sound sources: atmosphere and clusters. Here, the atmosphere sounds are atonal, whereas the clusters are tuned. Each type of source features a different set of parameters, but they’re all self-explanatory.
- Effects Tab
Thrill has an FX page, where you can add effect processors on each layer. Each layer has three sub-pages of effects, accessed by three tabs below the effect controls: Mod FX, EQ, and Space. In the Mod FX sub-page, you’ll find four effects: Mutate, Color, Drive, Stereo, and Phaser. Here, Mutate is a convolution-based effect, and Color changes the timbre.
The library is available for Kontakt Player 6.2 and Kontakt 6.2 or higher.
Thrill is designed to cover a large area of the scoring world with its comprehensive instrument library. Furthermore, the XY-pad makes performance as well as programming the instrument smooth and effortless. Using the cluster designer, you can build custom clusters with up to eight voices. In a way, it aids in orchestration too. Overall, its sound is highly cinematic and difficult to go wrong with.
3. GHOUL Ghostly Textures
The GHOUL Ghostly Textures plugin is a unique cinematic instrument designed to provide haunting and ethereal soundscapes for music production and sound design.
This Kontakt sample library, developed by Riot Audio, offers 40 well-synthesized and recorded ghostly textures inspired by contemporary horror films. It is based on long, evolving performances of aleatoric violins and vocals, making it a perfect tool for creating eerie and atmospheric audio experiences.
- Sound Sources
GHOUL presents an impressive collection of 13 aleatoric sound sources, including vocal and vocal-like elements such as Growl, Whisper, and Moan, as well as violin-based textures like Harmonic Scrapes, String Taps, and more. These diverse sound sources provide a rich palette for your sonic creations, offering organic and otherworldly textures.
- Layer Screen
In the Layer Screen, you have in-depth customization options for the two selected texture layers. This includes high and low pass filters, which enable you to reduce or entirely remove harsh high-frequency elements in certain samples (e.g., violin scrapes).
You can precisely choose the frequencies from each source sound in the mix. There are layer-specific panning controls and an octave tuner for creative time-stretching and pitch manipulation. Each layer has its own ADSR envelope controls, allowing for subtle or dramatic variations in sound envelopes, perfect for evolving textures.
- (Effects Screen) Transmogrify I & II
These controls feature specially recorded Impulse Responses (IRs) – one resembling a crackly old tape and the other a human growl. Use them conservatively for a touch of supernatural ambiance, or crank them up for a chaotic blend of discordant sound.
- (Effects Screen) Mids Attenuation
This control compensates for the mid-heavy coloration caused by the Transmogrify IRs. It allows you to dial back excessive mid frequencies, giving you precise control over your sonic palette.
- Ambiance effects
The Delay section offers adjustments for mix intensity and delay timing, letting you sculpt the timing and spatial depth of your textures. In the Reverb section, you can control reverb length and mix intensity, providing flexibility in tailoring the spatial characteristics of your textures.
- Intense sound design capabilities
The GHOUL Ghostly Textures Plugin boasts a cutting-edge custom sound design engine that harnesses the power of Kontakt 6. With dual layers, The Nether (A) and The Yonder (B), it offers a diverse palette of 8 aleatoric violin sounds and 3 vocalizations, along with 2 vocal-like sounds derived from a frame drum. This versatility enables 156 unique sonic combinations, enriched by 40 presets categorized as long, medium, and short textures.
To operate the GHOUL Ghostly Textures Plugin, you’ll need the full paid version of Kontakt, specifically version 6.6.1 or higher. Please note that this plugin is not compatible with the free Kontakt Player. On the Mac platform, it’s supported on Intel-based Macs with macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11, or 12 (with the latest updates).
For Apple Silicon Macs, it works both via Rosetta 2 and natively on ARM in Standalone mode or in hosts that support it, but it requires macOS 11 or 12 with the latest updates. On Windows, it’s compatible with Windows 10 or 11 (with the latest Service Pack) and requires at least an Intel Core i5 or equivalent CPU and a minimum of 2 GB RAM. However, it’s recommended to have 6 GB of RAM for optimal performance.
GHOUL is the best plugin for scoring horror movies, video games, and other content. It is a dynamic Kontakt library that offers an array of 13 aleatoric sound sources, including vocals, violins, and more, enabling creative sonic exploration.
With extensive customization options, it lets you shape textures precisely using filters, panning, octave tuning, and ADSR envelopes. Special Impulse Responses, delay, and reverb effects add magic to your compositions. GHOUL lets you craft eerie, evolving textures for a hauntingly unique sonic experience.
4. Native Instruments Mysteria
Mysteria is a unique and highly expressive cinematic vocal/choir instrument made in collaboration with Galaxy Instruments.
Whether you’re looking to create a sense of dread, wonder, or beauty, Mysteria has you covered. It employs multiple kinds of choir “clusters” that you can blend and modulate to create exceedingly expressive sounds. Such clusters can include beautiful harmonies or chaotic dissonance.
For horror scoring, you could either create creepy choirs right away or start calm and gradually introduce unnerving chaos. Furthermore, you’ll also find processed, hybrid sounds that help give a distinct quality to Mysteria’s sound palette. Besides its sounds, you’ll notice that the instrument’s user interface is just as inviting.
- Choir Recordings
Mysteria utilizes four choirs to adapt to various needs: an epic 48-singer choir, a 24-female singers alto/soprano choir, a 24-male singers tenor/bass choir, and a contemporary quartet choir. It features many kinds of vocal techniques, melodic lines, whispers, body noises, breathing, etc.
- Two Layers
You can load two kinds of sounds and morph between them using the XY-pad on the interface. Horizontal movement on the pad morphs between the two layers, while vertical movements add modulation and intensity changes. You can control what changes occur using the Effects Page.
- Source Page
At the bottom of the interface, you’ll find a small waveform icon. It opens the Source Page, where you can edit the core parameters like amp envelope, pan, tuning, mic variations, etc. The parameters differ based on what kind of preset you have loaded in each instrument layer: Atmosphere presets are atonal sounds like stomping and whispering, whereas Cluster presets use tonal sounds. You can also split the two layers across your keyboard so that you can play one layer at a time.
- Effects Page
Mysteria features an FX section, where you can add various effect processors per layer. Each layer has four effect groups: Mod FX, EQ, Space, and Replika. Users of Native Instruments products will recognize Space and Replika as reverb and delay modules. Similarly, the Mod FX group offers six effects that you can modulate with the XY-pad:
The Hacker is an LFO-based processor. It allows you to add movements to your sounds.
It features multiple kinds of convolution effects to create unconventional spaces like a chimney.
It features effects that control the tone of the sound. Adding air, for example, makes the choir clearer and brighter.
It lets you add saturation, distortion, and lo-fi effects. You can use it to add grit to the choir.
Control the stereo field of the layer. For example, adding a stereo enhancer and modulating it can make your sound intimidating and enveloping.
It features effects like phasers, flangers, and choruses. The phaser, in particular, creates otherworldly sounds, perfect for horror scoring.
The library is available for Kontakt Player 6.2 and Kontakt 6.2 or higher.
Mysteria is genuinely an incredible instrument unlike anything else on the market. It specializes in generating emotions rather than in performing choir pieces. There are over 800 sound sources, 600 layer-presets, and 350 master-presets. The sources include both choir recordings and hybrid synth sounds.
Together, they can instantly generate appropriate sounds for horror, fantasy, and drama scenes. And the results are almost always difficult to recreate without spending a lot of time and effort, making Mysteria a product undoubtedly worth the investment.
5. Soniccouture Haunted Spaces
Haunted Spaces is a unique sample library featuring unique instruments, convolution effects, and synthesis.
Creating organic ambiances is often a challenge when scoring a horror film. Haunted Spaces seeks to overcome the challenge by providing you with audio recordings by wildlife field recordist Chris Watson, capturing the sounds of various “haunted” spaces. These spaces include temples, warfare research bases, mines, factories, and burial sites.
Select from 440 preset snapshots or create custom sounds using the 128 original Chris Watson recordings and 189 Soniccouture sample sets. Adding effects, blending multiple sound sources, and modulating them unravels a journey of sonic discovery.
However, before I talk more about Haunted Spaces’ key features, I’d like to mention Threnody Strings, a 60-player string library with articulations like cluster spiccato/pizzicato, extended glissando, playing behind the bridge, etc. All of which are excellent for horror scoring and made famous by master composer Krzysztof Penderecki.
The library features four layers of sound. Each layer has five tabs: main, filter, volume envelope, filter envelope, and LFO. On the main page, you’ll find the layer’s volume, pitch, start position, panning, and detune. The rest of the tabs are self-explanatory.
- The Cube
In essence, the cube is an XY-pad. It morphs between the four layers, and you can either automate the cube manually or use the built-in morph-recorder. Click on the record button, move the cube with a midi controller or your mouse, and click on the play icon to play your custom cube path. Or, you could also use built-in paths like a circle and square to move the cube. Furthermore, you can change the modulation rate, playback direction, loop state, sync, etc.
You could call the Jammer an arpeggiator, although it is primarily designed for adding randomness into a sequence. Furthermore, you can record custom patterns and store them as presets in the twelve slots. You can also drag and drop the presets into your DAW for further editing.
You will find six slots for effect processors and a convolution reverb with many impulse responses on the Effects page. Each effect slot can employ one out of 21 effect processors in the library. And the effects include saturation, compression, chorus, delay, digital reverb, etc.
Haunted Spaces is available for Kontakt Player 6.2 and Kontakt 6.2 or higher.
Thanks to the four-point vector controller design, designing soundscapes with randomness and movement becomes quick and easy. Many of the patches are atonal and require little to no musical composition, making the scoring session even faster. However, I’d have liked to see some acoustic sounds instead of merely synthetic and metallic textures. While they are appropriate for specific genres, they can seemingly lack a certain “charm” that comes with instruments like the singing bowl and scraped gongs.
6. Native Instruments Kinetic Toys
Toys – the innocent playthings of children, comforting and a source of wonder… or are they?
Kinetic Toys presents the world of toys in a whole new way, exaggerating their sounds to create realms of fantasy, awe, and sometimes even horror. There are thirty-five instrument presets in the library, and each preset has four sounds. The blended sounds pass through an effect chain and create the final result.
The sounds were derived from old toys, some over a hundred years old. So, all of the sounds come from springs, music boxes, and bells inside such toys. Such kinetic sounds set vintage toys apart from the modern ones with chips and speakers. Furthermore, the library features a peculiar user interface, emphasizing the nature of its instruments.
Each preset features four layers of sound. You can morph between the sounds using the ballerina on the left. It acts as a four-point XY-pad. Furthermore, you can customize each of the four sounds by clicking on the cogwheel at the bottom left of the interface.
The origami crane and “wisp” lights at the center of the UI represent the toy samples and synthetic sounds. Move them vertically to change their volumes and horizontally to morph between two complementary sounds. Similarly, clicking on each origami or wisp’s “landing spot” will turn them off.
The robot on the right represents the effects section. It also acts as a four-point XY-pad. And you can click on the cogwheel icon at the bottom right of the interface to edit the effects in detail. When you do so, the center of the UI will update to represent the point on the robot XY-pad you have selected.
There are four kinds of effect icons: a star for EQ/filter, a rocket for reverb/delays, a UFO for distortion/bit-crusher, and a metal planet for modulation. Move the icons vertically to control the effect’s intensity and horizontally to change its character.
Besides using manual automation in your DAW, Kinetic Toys features three built-in modulation modes: step motion, 2D motion, and record motion.
Click on the footprint icon on the ballerina/robot’s box to activate the step motion, set the rate, and define the path of the movement.
Click on the four-arrow icon to active 2D motion and change the speed of the individual X and Y axes.
Click on the pencil icon to record a custom path movement, and use the ballerina icon on the robot’s box to link the two.
There are two books at the upper right of the interface featuring two envelopes and two LFOs. You can assign these to either the global mixer or the ballerina/robot. You’ll find the global mixer at the middle of the interface, represented by two ballerinas (toy sounds) and a robot token (effects send). Furthermore, clicking on the ballerina tokens below the mixer card links and unlinks (ballerinas holding hands/not holding hands) the toys volumes.
The library is available for Kontakt Player 6.2 and Kontakt 6.2 or higher.
Kinetic Toys features an extensive library of sounds. They range from animatronics, dolls, music boxes, xylophones, and cowboys to bells, ping pong balls, candy wrappers, fireworks, and even bugs. You’ll find virtually any kind of toys in this library, and many of them are useful as sound effects as well as scoring. Many of the sounds start as genuinely innocent and appropriate for kids, but the moment you experiment with the effects and modulations, you’ll soon realize how unsettling toys can sound.
7. Sample Logic Trailer XPressions 3
Sample Logic presents a versatile library of instruments for trailer music production.
From soft soundscapes to rumblings and epic hits, Trailer Xpressions 3 does it all. It features 28 instruments and a rather minimalistic user interface. You could use the sounds for trailer music production, of course, or for scoring. Distorted percussions and drones are often staples of horror/thriller score production.
The library is essentially a collection of audio files created by Sampletraxx, wrapped in a virtual instrument developed by Sample Logic. The UI is optimized for customizing and morphing the audio files. Furthermore, you can import the audio files (.wav) directly into your DAW.
Trailer Xpression 3 features everything from drones, impact hits, braams, and low booms to risers, stingers, and swells. Manipulation of these epic audio samples results in eerie and thrilling sounds. I would recommend it for atmospheric sounds and jump-scares.
- Sculpting Features
The library’s audio manipulation features are aimed at trailer composers. You can reverse each sample, add hi-pass/low-pass filters with LFO, and change the sample start position. The latter also works together with the reverse feature to reverse from the start position at first and play forward again.
The library provides four processors in terms of effect processing: energizer, polisher, delay, and convolution reverb. The first two are multiprocessor effects, with the energizer being a dynamics processor and the polisher a multiband/EQ effect. They change the tonality of the samples.
The library is available for Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher.
Trailer Xpressions 3 features some of the best trailer hits, risers, dark textures, and drones on the market. So, you could use this library for scoring trailers (any genre) and films. It’s a worthy addition to this list of the best horror and thriller scoring libraries because many of its sounds are intentionally atonal and play well with other instruments. If you need some epic bites in your scores, then look no further!
1. Silence+Other Sounds Mystery Box 2
Create pad sounds, percussions, and dark atmospheres with this experimental instrument.
Mystery Box 2 is a collection of various kinds of resonant objects and instruments. You’ll find authentic instruments like chimes, metallophones, and timpani, alongside things like springs, granular patches, and clock mechanisms. The sounds are eerie, dark, and chaotic, perfect for cinematic use in horror and thriller films or games.
When you purchase this library, you’ll also receive a free copy of Transfer Lite, a $29-value futuristic sound effects library.
- The Sounds
Mystery Box 2 features eight instruments. Each instrument has many samples (23 to 59) laid across the keyboard, totaling over 290. The instruments are metallic springs, resonant impacts, metallic tympani, stretched metals, surreal chimes and metallophones, tempo-synced clocks and rhythms, granular tones, and bonuses.
- Extend Range
The button at the bottom right of the interface lets you turn any of the samples in the instrument patches into a new playable patch. Try creating pad sounds, drones, ultra-low growls, or high-pitched screeches using unconventional sound sources. I particularly enjoy manipulating the surreal chimes preset.
Each sample you play has individual controls. You can change the pitch and volume, add a low-pass and high-pass filter, and use an amp envelope. If the controls aren’t enough, you can also import the sample .wav file into your DAW.
The library is available for Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher.
From resonant bowls and plates to metal springs and drums, Mystery Box 2 is an example of a successful experiment. While the instrument itself may not be the most flexible ever, it still provides an excellent collection of sounds for a remarkably fair price. I highly recommend it for adding eerie noises and jumpy screeches in a score.
2. Soundiron Shudder
Add a horrifying ambiance to your scores with Shudder.
Like a few other plugins on our list, Shudder also utilizes processed and mangled percussive sounds to create stingers, risers, drones, and FX sounds fit for both horror and thriller scores. However, in addition to resonant sounds, Shudder features much more: analog synth drones, bones breaking, impactful drums, etc. The UI design is minimalistic and lets you manipulate the samples to fit your needs.
The Performance page features the main parameters of the library. These include the volume envelope, the sample start position (Edge), filter, pitch warm, and volume swell. Some of the parameters also feature a drop-down menu to change the type of the effect (filter types, warp type).
Press on the Arp button to open the arpeggiator. The arpeggiator features multiple playback directions, note lengths, and a velocity graph. You can use it to create rhythmic percussions or play tuned arpeggio parts.
- DSP Rack
The FX Rack tab opens the effects page, which features many effect plugins: EQ, tape saturator, distortion, reverb, transient master, chorus, jump, delay, guitar amp, cabinet, filter, flanger, compressor, lo-fi, phaser, rotator, screamer, and stereo model. The comprehensive range of effects helps make mixing in the box quick and easy.
The library is available for Kontakt 5.5 or higher.
For its price, Shudder is offering a lot of value. The sounds are high quality, and the complete effects library helps you design sounds that are your own. Although, over-processing can make your sounds come off as too artificial, which is best avoided unless intentional.
3. Silence Other Sounds FREAKTION
Yet another library by Silence +Other Sounds, Freaktion is devoted to the squeals of metallic objects.
In this library, you’ll find experimental sounds made with friction mallets, bows, superballs, plates, coils, buckets, and springs. The sounds range from mildly unsettling to deeply disturbing and terrifying. I love using squeals and screeches from organic instruments rather than with synthesis. They feel much more sinister and intimate. And Freaktion achieves the organically-scary aspect well.
- Sound Library
The library has eleven instrument presets, each with many samples. Here are some of the sample examples: aluminum sheet screech, brass-sounding friction, coil stroke, dramatic spring transition, garbage bin squeal, vocal effects, etc. You can load these samples as audio files straight into your DAW too.
The library features a low-pass filter and a high-pass filter. Each filter also has an LFO. You can change the rate and the amount individually. This feature lets you effortlessly add movement to your sound and recreate some of the classic horror scoring techniques.
- Effect Processors
The library features a drive knob, which lets you add distortion to the sound. Below the knob, you’ll find an envelope that acts as the input gain stage of the distortion. Furthermore, you’ll also find reverb and a delay section at the bottom of the interface.
The library is available for Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher.
If you are looking for a way to use percussions in your horror scores, Freaktion is a fantastic entry to it. It features over 130 audio recordings of unconventional sound sources and even custom-built stringed instruments. Most of the sounds are atonal. So, you can use them as building blocks for sound effects in the film too.
4. Silence+Other Sounds RELICT (Free)
If you’re working on a tight budget, you’re going to love Relict!
Silence +Other Sounds has put together a free library with a generous variety of sounds. You’ll find hard-hitting trailer impacts, risers, glitches, and drones. It features over 90 audio samples that you can also use straight in your DAW.
The upper half of the interface features four columns dedicated to this library’s four categories of sounds. Each column has a unique set of parameters, and most of them are self-explanatory. The exception is the Erode parameter, which adds a lo-fi effect under the Atmos column.
Below the controls, you’ll find the reverb and delay effect module. Note that since the library is pretty straightforward, you can click on the wrench icon at the top right to open Kontakt’s editor, where you can add more effect processors.
The library is available for Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher.
Downloading Relict should be a no-brainer unless you already own many similar libraries. It features excellent-quality samples over four categories with a neat interface. And note that the atmospheric sounds change samples based on the velocity too.
How do you write a horror melody?
A horror melody is about playing with people’s expectations. A creepy piece of music that adheres to expectations creates dread, whereas a piece that goes against expectations creates panic. The easiest way to do the latter is by going off an established scale, rhythm, instrument, etc.
Here are two examples from a short horror film I scored that demonstrate the concepts I’m talking about:
The following is a piece that starts off creepy and stays that way, obeying people’s expectations of a spooky movie:
Conversely, the following section starts calm and soothing but ends on a doubtful note, recalling the main theme (previous video). Here, I’m using a scale, playing style, and rhythm. It uses octaves and slows down considerably towards the end. And you may have noticed that using octaves is something I did on the main theme, making it an excellent way to remind people where we are headed:
Much of the eerieness of horror and thriller scores come from the composition itself. However, these intuitive sample libraries make it much easier to set the score’s mood right from the beginning. Of all the libraries in this list, Native Instrument’s Mysteria is my favorite because of how unique it is. However, NI Thrill tops the list thanks to its comprehensiveness.
Similarly, if you are solely after sounds to make chills run down spines, Silence +Other Sounds Freaktion is rather difficult to beat. A contender would be Sound Iron Shudder, but the sounds in this library are much more varied compared to Freaktion’s. So, if you’re picking one among these two, I would suggest basing your decision on how much of a niche sound you need.
Finally, if you are on a tight budget, Relict is a free and highly easy-to-use library that sounds excellent. It has a wide variety of sounds, and you can import the samples straight into your DAW to customize it further. I recommend doing so because the inbuilt features may not be nearly enough for syncing with video.
And on that note, we reach the end of this article. I hope I’ve helped you find a new plugin you wish to try. Happy scoring, and I hope you create some creative stuff of nightmares!