When you think of horror movie soundtracks, it’s probably screeching strings and spooky synths rather than fingerstyle guitar that first come to mind.
But, in anticipation of Hallows’ Eve, we – the Thalia ghoul squad – have been doing a bit of digging to find some acoustic guitar goodness with a suitably seasonal edge.
And, we were amazed to discover that several very talented YouTubers have taken a stab (pun intended) at imagining horror music staples as fingerstyle acoustic pieces. And what’s more, they’ve done a great job, and clearly had a scream in the process (ok, we’ll stop with the bad Halloween puns, we promise!).
There are loadsof great horror-inspired acoustic guitar covers out there, and this list just scratches the surface. But, nonetheless, here are five awesome Halloween-appropriate acoustic guitar covers that we think you should check out!
“This is Halloween” (from The Nightmare Before Christmas) – Acoustic Trench
We always thought that “This is Halloween” – from Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s stop-motion 1992 cult-classic “The Nightmare Before Christmas” – would work great fingerstyle on acoustic guitar.
And, as this arrangement from Acoustic Trench shows, we were right on the money. A faultless take that instantly evokes the original, while retaining a character and charm all of its own.
“Halloween Theme” (Michael Myers’ Theme) – Albert Gyorfi
Composed by director John Carpenter (who famously scored the majority of his own films), the original 1978 “Halloween Theme” (also known as “Michael Myers’ Theme”) is a cold and eerie slice of synth-driven understatement.
Translating that piece to classical guitar while retaining that vibe seemed like a challenge to us, but Albert Gyorfi has delivered the goods with this short-but-sweet and, oh-so spooky take. The built up towards the ending and the abrupt finale seem to work particularly well on a six-string.
“Tubular Bells” (Exorcist Theme) – Kye Gratton
YouTuber Kye Gratton says he worked for four years on his acoustic cover of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (better known by many as the theme from “The Exorcist”). It shows.
The haunting beauty of Oldfield’s original composition is captured magnificently in this arrangement, which features DADGBE tuning with a capo on the 5th fret.
Many guitarists that attempt “Tubular Bells” will use a looping station to repeat the main string. But, Gratton commits to an incredibly difficult, but awesome sounding, one-take approach. As one YouTube commenter notes: “if you only hear this cover you would think there are 3 guitars playing this song.”
We also love the strikes he uses to imitate the bell chime from the original recording. Inspired choice!
“The Addams Family Theme” – Marcos Kaiser
Given how iconic the tune is, and how relatively easy it is to play, there are tonnes of fingerstyle guitar covers of Vic Mizzy’s “Addams Family” theme floating around on the internet.
With a distinctive arrangement for seven string guitar though, Marcos Kaiser’s definitely stands out. The familiarity of the song will greet you like a warm, old overcoat. But, those unexpected flourishes with keep you on your toes andhave you reaching for your guitar.
“Thriller” (Michael Jackson) – Kelly Valleau
Michael Jackson’s horror-movie themed “Thriller” is an epic, and a stone-cold pop classic. But, given the elaborate studio layers that make up the studio recording – courtesy of producer Quincy Jones – you’d be forgiven for thinking that it wouldn’t make a great solo acoustic guitar piece.
Well, Kelly Valleau is here to prove you wrong with this inspired take on Jacko’s 1982 classic. Starting off slow and understated, Kelly’s well-placed percussive strikes as the song builds result in a surprisingly full-bodied, yet refreshingly mellow rendition. We’re aware that sounds like a description you’d read on a bottle of Pinot Grigio, but listen to the song and you’ll see what we mean!
So those are our picks, but we want to hear from you! Are there any horror-themed fingerstyle guitar pieces that you’re passionate about? And what are the songs that go on your Halloween playlist?
As always, share your stories in the comments!
Cal Jam doesn’t get the same love as festivals like Monterey Pop or Woodstock. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have the late ‘60s countercultural cred, happening a full five years after the summer of love reached its peak. Maybe it’s because it was staged to be filmed for television (as part of ABC’s legendary “In Concert” series). Why do I love California Jam so much? It is because it established the record for the largest concert sound system ever assembled? Was it because it featured the first ever appearance of the Good Year blimp at a music festival?
Guitar lessons eventually followed. But, classical guitar didn’t grab me in the same way that my own freeform compositions had. Firstly, I didn’t know any of the songs I was supposed to be learning. Secondly, it required the kind of co-ordination and finger dexterity that I was – at that time at least – far too impatient to master. “I read somewhere that there are these things you can use to hit the strings so you don’t have to use your fingers. I think they began with a P,” I once told my guitar teacher. “The thing that begins with a P is called practice,” he replied. He was right, of course, but that didn’t mean I wanted to hear it.
This week, to satisfy my yearning for live music, I’ve taken a deep dive into my record collection and rediscovered some live favourites. Given how much joy I’ve got out of these records, I thought I’d share them with you today. Putting together this list, I’ve tried to take the road less travelled. I didn’t want to put together a list of classic live albums that everyone already knows like the back of their hand. Instead, my three picks serve as alternatives to some of those classic albums, offering a new look at some legendary bands.