Subtle creepy strings.
September 6, 2012 5:44 PM   Subscribe

It's time to play your favorite (maybe) Ask Metafilter game: recommend music for a specific purpose! Bonus difficulty: the specificity is really specific!

Here's the scenario: Some friends are doing a performance art piece, and have requested that I put together a 3-hour playlist of music as background for the piece. There's no speech in the piece, so the music will be the main audio component.

The direction I have is "classical, but tension / creepy / dissonant in a subdued way". My first thinking was something along the lines of Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 in C Major. That overall major tonality with the creepy diabolical carnival vibe slowly developing underneath. The thing is, that symphony to my memory isn't the most...background of tempos / volumes / tambres. Might be a touch aggressive, especially the March of the Fascists movement thingy with the fife-and-drum.

Recommendations on (public domain) classical pieces in this theme would be just lovely! I'm fine with chopping up movements for only the adagios or whatevs, just need some good starting places. Thanks!!
posted by lazaruslong to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Erich Wolfgang Korngold's String Sextet in D Major might be worth a listen.
posted by Paragon at 6:00 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Parts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring might work
posted by kitkatcathy at 6:02 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Public domain recordings? Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead" has a few pd recordings (Rachmaninoff himself conducting, Fritz Reiner, various others). Massenet's "Elegie" must have some.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:03 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Recommendations on (public domain) classical pieces in this theme would be just lovely!

Do you mean public domain recordings of performances? These might be hard to find (e.g. that Shostakovich piece is still in copyright, so a recording of it is unlikely to be public domain).

Is there any chance this performance art piece is going to be performed at a place with some kind of venue licensing that covers recorded performances of classical music? That would make your task a hundred times easier.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:03 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I checked in and yes, the venue is covered with BMI / ASCAP / etc performance licensing. Thanks for the suggestions so far, keep 'em coming! I'm checking them out.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:13 PM on September 6, 2012

check out the tracks on the original Shining soundtrack. talk about creepy.
posted by virginia_clemm at 6:18 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is my favorite Ask Metafilter game!

I think Phillip Glass' soundtrack for Dracula might fit.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:41 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Schoenberg? Or this one.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:41 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Faust Cantata VII: Es geschah ... by Alfred Schnittke: a duet in which the devil [female singer, coloratura] devours Professor Proto-Faustus's [male, countertenor] soul. (The version I've linked to is not the optimal one I recall, but effective nonetheless.)

Also, albeit for fewer intellectual cred points: Waltz in Black by the Stranglers.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:47 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Really enjoying the recommendations, which was unexpected as this isn't usually my bag w/r/t pleasure listening. The Philip Glass Dracula stuff is really hitting close, keep 'em coming! I'm really trying to rule out the 'things get frantic like a slasher film' climax on stuff, the more subdued and just grindingly dissonant and relentlessly subtle the better.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:49 PM on September 6, 2012

Glenn Branca. Creepy, dissonant, droning indeed. Here's Part V of Symphony #6 (Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven).
posted by googly at 7:03 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would choral music work? Allegri's Miserere perhaps?
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 7:28 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite] has quite a lot of stuff... Most is short and meant to be mixed, but some pieces are longer such as this one "healing bells", or these "horror ambience 07" and "horror ambience 13" (30 minutes!) by klankbeeld. There is a lot of stuff on the site that you can find with pretty straightforward searches.
As for non-public domain to use as a point of reference, have a look at Shinjuku Thief's stuff... Youtube links: 3 tracks from The Scribbler, "Waltz of the Midwives" from The Witch Hammer, and the self-titled track from The Witch Hunter.
The Haxan Cloak are similarly cinematic. "The Fall." "Raven's Lament."
posted by Zack_Replica at 7:29 PM on September 6, 2012

Perhaps a time-stretched classical piece? You could use a section of 9 Beet Stretch (Beethoven's 9th Symphony stretched to 24 hours long) or another piece that you time-stretch yourself.
posted by ourobouros at 8:27 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gringingly dissonant, not very subtle: Tony Conrad - Four Violins or Early Minimalism. That's a good 3 1/2 hours.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:21 PM on September 6, 2012

Gyorgy Ligeti (Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna) is creepy.
posted by hanoixan at 9:33 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Morton Feldman: Piano and String Quartet.
posted by in278s at 10:15 PM on September 6, 2012

Attrition is a classic British darkwave act that has incorporated a lot of strings in their music. Most of their stuff wouldn't work for you (think electronic-oriented goth with classical elements), but they've done several compilations of all-strings and ambient material: Esoteria, Etude and Eternity.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:27 PM on September 6, 2012

Assuming your license covers it, have a look at Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I - IV.

They are short ambient pieces which may work between longer pieces. They vary in mood, but some are definitely creepy/tense.
posted by The Deej at 1:05 AM on September 7, 2012

Jadulastan Requiem by Three Mile Pilot seems like it would be perfect for this.
posted by saladin at 4:51 AM on September 7, 2012

Maybe some Midnight Syndicate?
posted by Eumachia L F at 8:53 AM on September 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I am going to go with one of the Glass Dracula tacks, the Arnold Schoenberg, String Quartet No. 1 in d minor, op. 7, and Morton Feldman - Piano And String Quartet (1985). Really great suggestions all around though, I so appreciate the help! Also, I'm a little weirded out now. So much creepy music in the ears.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2012

« Older What sort of mattress topper won't cause...   |   hiking for wimps Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.