Bernard Herrmann’s music for Psycho represents a clear division from the traditions that Hollywood had maintained since the appearance of motion pictures with synchronic sound. There are no melodies or themes, just motifs and textures. With a restricted palette, Herrmann uses exclusively a string orchestra, and “with mute”, the score masterfully impregnates each of the dramatic epicentres of the film. The final chord without resolution or the famous motif of the shower scene have rightly become reference points for film music. This deservedly famous motif of the shower scene bursts into the history of film in a surprising way. It is not on the side of the protagonist, or his inner world; it does not create an atmosphere, nor does it accompany the structural tension of suspense. It is an element of representation: we do not see the knife stabbing, but we do hear it. The fact that Hitchcock placed Herrmann’s name just before his at the end of the film credits seems a fair recognition.

In the sixties, before the invention of Dolby and its multitrack system, the soundtrack of a film contained voices, noises and music in a single audio track. That mono channel, widely restricted in its frequency register, is certainly not the proper place for the infinite nuances offered by Herrmann’s wonderful score. We could say that if we want to hear the score of Herrmann while watching the film, the live orchestra offers us the best possible choice. Pure luxury!


Conductor: Pedro Alcalde
Orchestra: Orquestra Simfònica del Vallés (OSV)
Sound: David Casamitjana
Production: PGM productions + IMG Artist

Event: Simfònica Film Live
Venue: Auditori Fòrum Barcelona
Date: 31st October 2015


Title: Psycho
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Writer: Joseph Stefano (screeplay), Robert Bloch (novel)
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin
Language: English
Runtime: 110′
Premiere: 16th June 1960