Music composer Mark Korven talks about his Terrifying Score for ‘The Witch’

One of the most beloved aspects of the horror film ‘The Witch’ was its score, which was composed by Mark Korven. Korven’s music terrified audiences everywhere and for very good reason: It’s scary as hell!

Below is an interview with Korven where he talks about the inspirations for the music, the instruments used, and so on.

  • We wanted to keep things quite minimal, and keep any human imperfections in the score. The score is tense and dissonant, but there’s also a certain fragility there, which reflects these people living on the edge of existence.
  • Musically speaking, the score is far more dissonant than anything I’d ever done. It just never lets up.
  • The director didn’t want any traditional harmony or melody in the score, so it came down to the instrument selection. The backbone of the score was actually a Swedish instrument called the nyckelharpa. It’s a medieval keyed violin and when Rob first heard it he said, “That’s it, that’s the sound of the score”. The water phone was used a lot as well, and that’s a 20th century experimental instrument.

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Mark Korven had eve asked one of his luthier friend (guitar maker) Tony Duggan-Smith to come up with a musical instrument that would make terrifying sounds. And his friend came up with the “Apprehension Engine”. It seems Korven had used this instrument to create some of the spooky sounds used for ‘The Witch’.