Psycho : Prelude

Context

- Herrman had a successful working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest)

- Was an American composer

- Psycho shows influences from Debussy and Stravinksy

- His film scores often feature ostinato patterns

- He wrote "black and white music for a black and white world"

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Performance forces & handling

- Strings play tutti con sordini, giving a subdued sound

- There is only a string section used in all the film score

- Pizz., arco, tremolo all used

- The grouping of the parts vary (Divisi and non. div)

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Structure

  • LM 1: Stabbing 'Hitchcock' chord
  • LM 2 : Busy, quaver patterns
  • LM 3: Dotted, homorhythmic patten
  • LM 4: Conventional melody in Violin 1

- These 4 'leitmotifs' are rearranged in various orders throughout the piece

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Tonality

- Avoids traditional key/tonal centre

- Opening chord implies Ebm7, but next 4 bars strongly suggest

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Harmony

- Non-functional harmony - chords are used for their sound qualities

- Generally chromatic and dissonant

- Use of the 'Hitchcock' chord (minor chord with added major 7th)

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Texture

- Layering at times

- Pizz strings create a 'pulse' texture

- Homophony (37-48)

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Melody

- Based on the 4 leitmotifs

- LM 2 uses interlocking major 3rd intervals 

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Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

Allegro tempo

- 2/4 metre

- Strong quaver movement throughout

- Triplets in LM 2 create nervousness (influenced by Bartok)

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