HOW TO USE MUSIC IN HORROR GAMING
by Sandy Petersen
You've got a CD-player in the same room you play Call of Cthulhu, and you decide you want some background stuff to creep out your players. To do it Here are the big rules to remember.
DON'T JUST PLAY THE ENTIRE CD WHILE GAMING
Any reasonable CD has too much variability to hold up properly during your game session.
There's no guarantee the appropriate music will be playing at the right time - it might be playing tense "action" music while the players are in a library, or creepy "suspense" music
while they're engaged in a chase.
Instead, keep a list of appropriate tracks from the CD next to your gaming materials.
(example: "Bauhaus, vol I: track 4 = Stigmata Martyr") Use your remote control to activate the right track at the right time.
DON'T PLAY SCARY MUSIC EXCLUSIVELY
Too much spooky stuff causes your players to become callous and not susceptible to it anymore. After all, not ALL the play in Call of Cthulhu is during a scary part. Play more
conventional mood music during other parts of the session. Example: if you're playing a game in New Orleans, play some zydeko in the background during the parts of the game
that aren't action or monster-oriented. Then, when the game is getting scary (they're entering the haunted house, or whatever) use your remote control to switch to another CD and key in the right track.
SET IT TO REPEAT
If the action music ends before the action ends, it spoils some of the effect - set up a good, reasonably lengthy, track to set your mood, and then set that track to repeat endlessly until
that part of the game has ended. The players won't mind - they'll be too busy in the game to pay that much attention, and the track will be in the background moving along. I once
played "Oily Night" by Tom Waits for 30 minutes in a row and they never noticed.
Here are four CDs that contain tracks which I find to be enormously creepy and
entertaining. I'm sure you have your own preferences. Good luck!
Tom Waits - The Black Rider
Bauhaus - Vol. I (I use the compilation disks - you may have the originals).
Laibach - Kapital (especially the Hunter's Funeral Procession)
Philip Glass - Akhnaton (this is particularly suitable for an eerie, as opposed to gory, game
setting. The Funeral Barge of Amenhotep IV is the greatest "chanting" music I've ever heard. With terrific build-up - perfect for a cult ceremony)