Welcome back to our two-part exploration of the role of tension and intensity in a musical score, and the techniques that can best and most effectively accentuate our audience’s nervous excitement. If you haven’t read Part One yet, please read that article first, and then come back for the continuation of our discussion.
In Part One we explored how popular narrative genres such as horror benefit from a tense musical score, and we studied effective techniques for horror music composition as a model for musical tension-building in any narrative genre. We learned about some techniques from the world of sound design that can add intensity and emotional pressure to our music. We listened to a couple of musical examples that I composed as a member of the music team for Homefront: The Revolution (pictured right). We also consulted the opinions of some top experts in the field to better understand how amplifying tension can make any story feel like a more awesome, satisfying experience. Now, let’s move on to the more musical meat-and-bones of the topic: the actual harmonic textures and chord structures of our compositions.