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Horror Film Composer Shows How He Creates Bone-Chilling Sounds


A Toronto-based composer partnered with a string-instrument maker to create noises that are truly the stuff of nightmares.

Mark Korven has composed scores for horror films "The Witch" and "Cube," and he wanted a new instrument that could create a variety of chilling sounds. So, his friend Tony Duggan-Smith built him a contraption, aptly named "The Apprehension Engine."

The instrument is made of a series of metal rulers (played with a bow), a hurdy-gurdy (a stringed instrument like a violin that's played with a hand-cranked wheel), strings and reverbs (played with an electronic bow), metal rods, magnets and other assorted objects that combine to create a series of seriously unsettling noises.

Korven is no stranger to using odd instruments for a desired impact. For "The Witch," a 17th-century period film, he used a medieval violin called a nyckelharpa to create an unsettling atmosphere.

"The score is tense and dissonant, but there’s also a certain fragility there, which reflects these people living on the edge of existence," he said in an interview with horror film site Bloody Disgusting.

He also worked with Duggan-Smith to create a "sarello," a hybrid of a cello and an Indian bowed instrument called a sarangi.

Korven told The Independent that his next film will be a remake of the classic vampire flick "Nosferatu."

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