Dracula: score is made from real blood and screaming babies

Composer David Arnold explains how the music for the BBC’s new Dracula series incorporates suitably macabre horror elements…

Sherlock composers David Arnold and Michael Price faced “a very particular problem” when creating the score for Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the inscrutable nature of the title character.

Speaking at the three-part series’ BFI Southbank launch, Arnold likened Dracula to the shark in Spielberg’s Jaws. “You don’t know anything about him, but he’s there representing something awful.” This adaptation, says Arnold, creates “a much more complex Dracula,” taking him out of the shadows and putting his personality and particular methodology to the fore.

“To have [Dracula] front and centre gave us a very particular problem,” explained Arnold, “because the theme for Jaws is very much not really about the shark, it’s about what happens to you when he gets you.” The music for Dracula, on the other hand, needed to be about the Count himself. “The music needs to stink of Dracula,” said Arnold, “it needs to be infecting everything.”

To achieve that sense of pervading disease, Arnold and Price set about creating “a bunch of quite awful sounds that were musical, one of which was actual real blood in a glass, with the finger round the top of the rim.

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“We created percussion things with coffins. The best thing was I got the sound department to send me all their recordings of the screaming babies and I made an organ out of screaming babies.”

Won’t be playing many Christmas carols with that last one, we’d have thought?

Dracula airs in the UK on BBC One at 9pm on January 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and then on Netflix.