Pianist plays the ‘Psycho’ theme on a piano with actual knives – and it’s utterly terrifying

15 September 2021, 15:53 | Updated: 15 September 2021, 17:01

Pianist plays the ‘Psycho’ theme on a piano with actual knives
Pianist plays the ‘Psycho’ theme on a piano with actual knives. Picture: Joachim Horsley/YouTube

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Classic horror ‘Psycho’ turns 61 today, so here’s a hair-raising culinary take on Bernard Herrmann’s main theme.

This chilling spectacle of pianism and percussion combines Bernard Herrmann’s classic horror score with gleaming kitchen knives, and we are feeling suitably terrified.

Composer, arranger and pianist Joachim Horsley uses every inch of his instrument to achieve a reincarnation of the Psycho theme that isn’t far from a Shostakovich sound world (watch below).

The 1960 psychological horror flick came out on this day, 15 September, in the year 1960.

It seems unthinkable now, but at first Alfred Hitchcock didn’t want the film’s famous shower scene to have any music at all.

Read more: Hidden violinists startle house viewers with ‘Psycho’ music in shower

Pianist performs terrifying version of 'Psycho' theme with knives

After some trepidation, Herrmann persuaded the director otherwise and went on to write one of the most famous motifs in film history.

Herrmann’s biographer, Steven Smith, told NPR: “It’s interesting to watch that sequence without the music, because it’s still a very disturbing sequence, but you’re watching it as an outsider. You’re watching a terrible thing happen, but you’re watching it from the viewpoint of someone outside of it.

“With Herrmann’s cue, you are Janet Leigh. You are feeling the absolute terror and panic and loss of control that she is feeling in trying to fend off this sudden attacker.

“And that was the thing that Herrmann did again and again, especially in Hitchcock’s films, was that he forced the viewer to feel what the characters on screen were feeling. He considered film music, in his phrase, the ‘communicating link’ between the filmmaker and the viewer.”

The score is as powerful today as it was 61 years ago. Bravo to this musician for his sharp new take – although we expect your own poor piano will thank you for not trying this at home…