from the rough-cut viewed by Hitchcock and his collaborators
on April 26 were the essential ingredients of a complete audio
track and a musical score. No matter how much Hitchcock trusted
his composer and sound mixer, he always dictated detailed
notes for the dubbing of sound effects and the placement of
was dogmatic about the dramatic functions of sound and music,
and often interwove his suggestions into the screenplay. To
Francis Trauffaut, Hitchcock had registered his displeasure
with such scores as Miklos Rosza's for Spellbound (1945) and
Franz Waxman's for Rebecca (1940) and Rear Window (1954). In
fact, the Psycho screenplay suggest that Hitchcock was anticipating
and experimenting at minimizing music, an attempt that was eventually
to culminate in the Birds, which had no conventional musical
score at all.
the description of the opening shots of Psycho, which Hitchcock
in his notes dubs "Sequence 1", the director writes:
Traffic noises at their loudest as the Camera is passing
over the [Venetian] blind, and then diminishes once inside the
Sequence 2, after Marion steals the
money and is driving through the city:
[When] Marion’s car comes to a stop at the intersection, we should hear
her engine die down to an imperceptible tick over. It is very
important to hear her engine sound diminish sharply, because
the shot on the screen itself does not clearly show her coming
to a stop.
Sequence 3- of Marion hellish drive
that ends at Bates Motel- Hitchcock writes:
When we reach the night sequence, exaggerate passing
car noises when headlights show in her eyes. Make sure that
the passing car noise is fairly loud, so that we get the contrast
of silence when she is found by the roadside in the morning….
Just before the rain starts there should be rumble thunder,
not too violent, but enough to herald the coming rain. Once
the rain starts, there should be a progression of falling rain
sound and slow range of the sound of passing trucks…..Naturally,
wind-shield wipers should be heard all through the moments she
turns them on…. The rain sounds must be very strong, so that
when the rain stops, we should be strongly aware of silence
and odd dripping noises that follow.
the screenplay, the description of the scene in which the detective
sneaks into Bates house prescribes the following sound cue:
Arbogast listen, holds his breath, hears what could
be human sounds coming from upstairs but realizes these could
also be the sounds of the old house after sunset….[He] starts
up, slowly, guardedly, placing a foot squarely on each step
to test it for it squeaks or groans.
the moment note when Arbogast meets his maker. Hitchcock dictates:
Special note must be taken of the sounds of footsteps
on the stairs- because, although we do not see "Mother",
we should hear the sounds of her stumbling feet down the stairs
in pursuit of Arbogast.
the scene after Arbogast has been killed, Hitchcock knew what
effect a creaky stairway would have on the audience, when:
As [Lila] climbs [the stairs] she is startled by the
creaks and groans of the old wood of the steps. She steps more
the shower sequence and its aftermath, Hitchcock's notes to
composer Bernard Herman and the sound men Waldon O Watson and
William Russel dated January 8, 1960, are most emphatic.
Again the director seemed intent upon making the impact through
image, not music.
Through the killing, there should be the shower noise
and the blows of the knife. We should hear water gurgling down
the drain of the bathtub, especially when we go closer it… during
the murder, the sound of the shower should be continuous and
monotonous, only broken by the screams of Marion.
five consecutive films with composer Bernhard Hermann, Hitchcock
deeply respected the contributions of the brilliant, often abrasive
New York- born Juilliard graduate. Founder and conductor of a camber orchestra
at age twenty, Hermann, like Hitchcock, could be a bristly perfectionist,
contentious, and pedant. Although Hermann was clearly not the
sort who easily took direction, the composer was to follow closely
Hitchcock's dictates as to the music cues for the opening third
of Psycho- with a single, unforgettable exception.
had a wonderful relationship with Bernie" observed script
supervisor Marschal Schlom. "And the way to maintain
that was to give Hermann the latitude to do what he wanted.
Mr. Hitchcock only wanted people around him who knew what they
were doing." Hermann, who died in 1975, once told director
Brian De Palma, " I remember sitting in a screening
room after seeing the rough cut of Psycho. Hitch was nervously
pacing back and forth, saying it was awful and that he was going
to cut it down for his television show. He was crazy. He didn't
know what he had. `Wait a minute I said, " I have some
ideas. How about a score completely for strings? I used to be
a violin player you know…"Hitch was crazy then. You know,
he made Psycho with his own money and he was afraid it was going
to be a flop. He didn't even want any music in the shower scene.
Can you imagine that?"
fact, Hitchcock dictated that he wanted "no music at
all though the [motel] sequence" with Marion and Norman.
Hermann so mistrusted the uncharacteristic state into which
Hitchcock had worded himself that he ignored counter suggestion
made by his directorial colleague for Psycho's fidgety, post-bebop
jazz score. Screenwriter Stefano, a former musician, recalled
Herrmann’s telling him, " I'm going to use only
strings. ´I thought it was weird. No drums? No rhythm section?
At the good example- for this score. But I felt that Bernard
Hermann was the first person other than Hitchcock and I who
dug the movie, the first who said ´Ooops-we´ve got something
Psycho, Bernard Hermann was to concoct nothing less than a cello
and violin masterwork, "black and white" music that
throbbed sonorously as often as it gnawed at the nerve endings.
The score would prove to be a summation of all of Hermann's
previous scores for Hitchcock's films, conveying as it did the
sense of the abyss that is the human psyche, dread, longing,
regret in short, the wellsprings of the Hitchcock
universe. According to Stefano, Hitchcock was particularly amused
by Hermann's screaming violins" and "gave
him more credit than anyone else he ever spoke of".
So pleased was the parsimonious director by Hermann's score
that he did the unheard of: He nearly doubled the composer's
salary to $34.501.
Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Pr (Trade); 1999
The book is availed at Internet book
stores as Amazon