Reviews, Views and Suggestions
This Dracula Music page will be constantly updated with reviews and suggestions for buying Dracula-related music and film soundtracks.
Why should you listen to me? Well, I'm a music graduate, teacher
and film composer (visit www.alanjmoore.com
for more details). With over 20 years of musical experience, I promise
to give honest, unbiased accounts of the music reviewed on this
page. I've listened to Dracula music ever since I got hooked on
the old Hammer films which I used to watch as a kid.
If you would like to add your own comments (maybe you have a favourite Dracula soundtrack), then please get in touch so that I can share your thoughts with everybody.
Let's start with music by Philip Glass, composed for the 1931 Bela Lugosi classic film Dracula and performed by the wonderful Kronos String Quartet.
Glass's minimalist style lends itself well to this subject-matter. The album is modern sounding but with a kind of timeless chamber-music quality, and is a great accompaniment to a dialogue-only film.
The usual Glass fingerprints are here: repetitive ostinati, arpeggios, motifs and rocking two-note bass lines, but touched with tender, lyrical moments. To me (being a melody-man at heart!), it was these melodic moments which prevented this album from becoming too tedious. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy modern, dissonant music, but eventually I long for a damn-good tune and this album gave me something close to that.
Most of the 26 tracks are quite short (1-4 minutes) and, although eerie, are surprisingly tuneful. The string playing is excellent, as you'd expect from the Kronos gang.
Here are a few of my favourite highlights:
"Excellent, Mr. Renfield"
An eerie piece with the expected repeated ostinato/riff but with loud scary moments when the quartet suddenly burst in. The ticking bass line keeps things moving and a great winding melody over the top completes the image of the fly-eating lunatic who lives in the asylum!
A violent start to the track, full of discordant harmony and very evocative of a storm. Pizzicato strings produce the rain and fast runs create an impression of speed.
Horrible TragedyNot sure if this is bi- or tri-tonal! Sounds like every member of the quartet is playing in a different key. I like its hypnotic qualities and simple short riffs.
In the TheatreA great haunting melody and easy chord progressions - reminds me of Phantom of the Opera for some reason!
A surprisingly beautiful and sympathetic sound for our resident madman! Very classical sounding with some predictable chord changes and two-note bass accompaniment, later moving into triplets. Very nice.
This is not the usual blood-spattered Dracula music, full of diminished chords and squealing strings. Yes, it can be repetitive, but Glass seems to be using a greater range of tone colours than usual and, for this style of music, I found it quite tuneful (although you'd be hard-pressed to whistle along with the CD!).
Perhaps the disc gets rather tiring half-way through: 26 tracks is a lot of minimalist music! I have to admit that I've not seen the film with this soundtrack, but I've heard that it complements the images perfectly, especially in Carriage Without a Driver, where the spinning wheels are clearly portrayed and the music invokes a sense of menace.
Should you buy it? On the whole, I'd say "yes", because I found it more accessible than a lot of Glass's music and I now want to see the film with the Dracula music soundtrack. There are some beautiful moments on the CD and some times when maybe you need to nip into the kitchen and put the kettle on!
Would I buy it again? Yes!
Return from Dracula Music to Dracula in Whitby