It is highly unlikely that anyone will ever find a scene that is a better example for the importance of film scores in general than the so-called shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho.
The shrill string players underline the speed and unpredictability of the attacker, as well as the sharpness of his knife and the panic of the surprised victim who knows she is going to die. To accomplish all this with a few violins is the work of a genius. This world-famous short sequence is merely a part of a truly outstanding composition. The string players display their violent side to its full extent in the afore mentioned shower scene, but actually insinuate that violence early on with a minimalistic staccato motif, which swiftly transforms into an elegiac and fateful musical theme. It then floats on in ostinato on the verge of dissonance – constantly interrupted and complemented by the violins. This music sends shivers down our spine, and we can‘t really explain why.