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Psycho Suite


‘I wanted the sound of pure ice-water,’ Herrmann said later of his use of an all-string orchestra for Psycho. Who would have thought the sound of violins could be so terrifying? Hitchcock had originally not wanted music for the shower murder scene but had to concede Herrmann’s music added a stunning extra dimension. The shrieking strings intensify the victim’s screams, whilst the stabbing rhythms accentuate the ferocity of the knife attack. Earlier the frenzied string sounds accompanying Janet Leigh’s journey to the Bates motel have transformed a rainswept car-drive into a scene of paranoid pursuit, a character in flight from inner demons. ‘The music is telling us that something terrible is going to happen to her,’ Herrmann said, ‘it’s got to.’ Interestingly, the three-note ‘Madness’ motif at the end, as Bates sits in insane isolation in his cell, derives from one of Herrmann’s earliest orchestral compositions, Sinfonietta for Strings (1935), influenced by the serialism of Schoenberg. It will return at the conclusion of his last film score, Taxi Driver (1976) as a musical clue to the hero’s continuing psychosis. For this studio recording, a suite from Psycho has been transcribed and arranged by Richard Birchall and double tracked.

from notes by Neil Sinyard © 2011


Herrmann: Psycho Suite & other works
SIGCD234Download only


Track 5 on SIGCD234 [9'53] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD234 track 5

Recording date
5 October 2010
Recording venue
Kore Studios, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Michael Ponder
Recording engineer
Michael Ponder
Hyperion usage
  1. Herrmann: Psycho Suite & other works (SIGCD234)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: January 2011
    Download only
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