What makes the Stranger Things music so scary?

20 March 2019, 15:21 | Updated: 20 March 2019, 15:46

By Elizabeth Davis

The Stranger Things theme tune is a musical distillation of all things ‘80s. Here’s how the composers created their nostalgia-drenched music

Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon make up the electronic band Survive and they’re also the duo behind the synth-heavy sound of Stranger Things.

The Duffer Brothers approached the pair after hearing their music used in the film The Guest.

What are the instruments in the Stranger Things theme song?

It’s a great question. As an experimental electronic duo, Michael and Kyle built the music for Stranger Things using a series of vintage synthesizers.

In particular, they used the Prophet-5 (a synth that was made in the late ‘70s through to the early ‘80s), the Roland SH-2 – this provided the bassline of the theme song – and the ARP 2600 which gave the soundtrack what the duo have described as ‘tuba’ sounding hits.

The Stranger Things soundtrack played on piano is beautifully haunting >

But there’s one instrument used in the soundtrack that will be more familiar to classical music fans – a piano.

They told Vanity Fair in an interview about the music: “The jump scare is actually a combination of a broken piano we recorded on a field recorder the first time we visited the set.”

Read more: the theme for Doctor Who was one of the first pieces of electronic music >

The theme for the Upside Down

For the theme that’s associated with the ‘Upside Down’ and the monster the pair used an analogue step sequencer meaning that they could use micro-tones in their music.

Micro-tones aren't widely used in Western classical music, so using them here emphasises the monster’s other-worldly origins.

What will the soundtrack for Season 3 sound like?

If the trailer's anything to go by we can expect the same high-adrenaline, nostalgia-soaked synth music we've come to know and love.