I began producing music and sound FX in the early-mid 1970's using Moog Modular synthesizers, and the ARP-2500 & 2600 synthesizers, for one of the top recording studios in Memphis Tennessee (Pepper-Tanner & William B. Tanner Studios). One of my first projects was the music track and sound FX for the very first "Weed Eater" TV spot, as well as an entire series of S.O.B.'s (sounds of broadcasting) used in the broadcasting world. As an 'independent contractor' fro the studio, I was called in anytime there was to be any Moog synthesizer programming to be done for any recording sessions, either for client, or 'in house' sessions.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, I composed and recorded music and sound FX for planetarium and laser-light shows. Additionally, I did a lot of work in two museums and a theme park owned and operated by the City of Memphis (The Memphis Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, Mud Island theme park and The Mississippi River Museum), where besides the normal audio/visual technician duties required, we also set-up 'haunted museum' attractions during the Halloween seasons. In the case of The Mississippi River Museum, each gallery of the museum, was converted over to the 'haunted versions', including full-scale walk-through versions of an 1870's Packet Boat (multiple levels including the main deck and dock, surrounded by water), and a full-scale 1860's Ironclad Union Gunboat and river bluff, complete during a canon battle. These museum gallery audio/visual systems incorporated state-of-the-art audio, event synchronized, and visual lighting control systems, as well as specialized devices and effects used specifically for the Halloween attractions.
After working for a number of years as a Synthesizer-Consultant for numerous recording studios in Memphis, working as a Staff Engineer for Memphis Sound Productions on Beale St. USA, working for a major audio/visual rental house and video production facility, and working in FM radio broadcasting and on the production crew for the local NBC affiliate, I moved to the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, and after working as a graphic artist and designer for over 12 years, I decided to awaken the roots from my past, and build myself yet another home studio. This time, equipment costs and the advance in technology was on my side, as not only had digital MIDI instruments finally come to maturity, but analog Modular Synthesizers now had become technologically stable, and the costs were no longer rivaling that of a 3-bedroom house.
These days, most anyone can use a computer program, or even an 'app', to make "bleep-bloop" sounds, and/or techno-thump music... or digital synthesizers/samplers which amount to "push-a-button... make-a-sound"... because really, the 'sounds' have already been made. But with analog modular synthesizers, every sound is actually created from scratch... from the ground, up. Every sound IS an original. And the real trick, is having the knowledge and years of hands-on work and experience- in the industry, to know exactly what sound(s) and/or music compositions are needed, why, and how to construct and compose them. Mood IS everything. And so often, "Less IS more".
Sure, a 'haunted attraction' can buy any number of 'spook house' music CDs for $17.00, and just 'be done with it'. But does the contents of those tracks just get you by?... or do they actually help to 'make' the entire attraction a major success? just like all of the visual effects, sets, and props, the audio soundtracks are just as important, if not more so. The audio is what 'sets the mood', maintains it, and actually programs each individual's sense of apprehension and primal fear factor. Low-frequency sound waves can actually cause a subliminal heightened state of apprehension, and even anxiety, in the patron's subconscious, causing them to be 'on edge' in anticipation for the next 'shocker'.
These audio effects can be (and should be) tailored to not only each attraction's theme, but to each area of each attraction. The goal is to not just get the patrons apprehensive, but to change the 'feel' of the apprehension, like a flavor or smell... to create a different mood or 'feel' in each area, and each event. "Canned" music and FX tracks just can't do that. And, it's kind of hokey to hear the exact same music and sound FX in different, unrelated attractions. Come on... how long before that same 'ol' chainsaw-bit is being used for sleep therapy? And using that same ol' tired them music from "Halloween", or the like. You can bet that, if it's been used in a film or seen on TV, someone (or a lot of 'someones') have ripped-off the sound tracks.
Creating a 'good' Haunted Attraction takes money... time... creativity... and resources. Creating the 'eye-candy' is just the first half of the recipe. The sound and special FX are just as important, if not more so... yet too many people figure that a $17 CD is going to be the 'crowning achievement' for all of the hard work that's been put into their attraction. And what's almost as sad- is someone know of some 'kid', who plays around with their computer program or app, and cranks-out the 'whatever is hip this week' techno-poop, is "just what the doctor ordered" for their attraction.
A much better approach is to have someone who's been in the professional production business for almost 40 years, to evaluate not only what's in your show (the locale, it's acoustics, and surrounding environment; and what the desired objective and effects are), and composing a custom-designed acoustic package for each area of the attraction... inside and out. This includes an overall theme, with audio tracks for the website and phone. Another great plus... "add-ons" or extra last minute pieces and custom requests can be easily done, dealing with just one person... "the artist, who is also the audio and recording engineer".