Scary Music from Rachel’s Video Producer Trevor Jenkins

Part of the joy of being a self-published author is the variety of people I get to meet. This month let me introduce Trevor Jenkins, the music producer behind my last three video trailers. In conversation, it became clear that he’d had a couple of spooky experiences so I asked him to share them for Halloween. If you do nothing else this Halloween, listen to the audio track at the end of this article and tell us what you make of it. It made my blood run cold!

Having made some original music inspired by three of Rachel’s superb novels, we started to talk about the creative DNA of music and drama and it’s emotional impact. It’s a powerful alchemy. Imagine Hitchcock without Herrmann or the opening scenes from Jaws without the strings? The virgin listener to Tubular Bells will hear not a note of menace within the music but watch The Exorcist and your view of the piece will never be the same. So mood music, a retro-trendy phrase for our profession, was once mocked as fuddy-duddy and boring library music. It is no such thing, it is the finest example of music to order and I have had stranger things to deal with than commissions…

An afternoon in the dark with Hammer Films

One spring afternoon in the 1980s a sudden storm of biblical proportion began lashing the back windows of our basement studios in Regent Street. The sky turned black and was etched with lightning. There was a gentle tap on the door and in out of the deluge came Philip Martell – the MD of Hammer Films. He was softly spoken, deathly-white and had something of the crypt about him. He wanted some music for a film – some light wistful flute pieces, slow funereal drums and mediaeval dances. It was all very odd and the storm continued to crash into the windows as we worked. We couldn’t have written scarier ‘mood music’ to go with his pallor! He seemed distracted and eventually decided that he had what he needed and left. The moment he disappeared up the stairs the rain stopped, the clouds rolled away and the sun slowly began to emerge. I must say, we all breathed a sigh of relief! It was as if a cold hand had been prized off our throats but we still get the shivers every time we hear a flute!

Impromptu No 1

Some of the buildings in London’s infamous Whitechapel have stood defiantly since the mid-1500s and have witnessed some of the most vicious and murderous incidents. Jack the Ripper walked those cobbles and left his bloody fingerprints behind. Is it any wonder then that sometimes some darker echoes hang about and reverberate long after they should have moved on to rest?

It was with some trepidation then that we were recording in one of the famous churches in a tiny corner of the still labyrinthine streets of the Thames Basin. I felt uncomfortable from the start and, recording in the darkening late winter afternoon, gloomy recesses of the church seemed to billow and shift shape like the shadows in Fantasia. The candles kept blowing out and shuffling, knocking and rustling constantly interrupted the recording process, which ideally needed total silence.

In truth, I couldn’t wait to get out, my heart was beating loudly against my ribs and I soon left my sound engineer to pack away as I fairly ran into the gloom. Next morning, he called me and played me the following audio clip, which was an overrun from one of the takes. I can’t explain it; perhaps your readers would like to give me their best interpretation?

Send your explanations to newsletter@rachel-abbott.com

And for a further example of Trevor’s amazing skills at setting the scene, he wrote the music for the Sleep Tight trailer too!

If you would like to contact Trevor Jenkins about mood music, click here.