Halloween and The Exorcist – Two Memorable Horror Movies with Equally Memorable Piano Themes

About a year ago I was at an art gallery. The studio had a piano, so I sat down at the bench and started playing a few songs I know.   When I was finished, a man asked me, “Was that The Exorcist you were playing?”   It was not.  It was the theme to Halloween.  His mistake might partly be my fault.   I’m not the best piano player. I only know certain parts of certain songs, and when I play my timing is sometimes off.   Perhaps he couldn’t recognize the tune the way I was playing it. But in general, people mix these themes up with each other.  Both are the main musical themes of horror movies and both pieces have a repetitive yet appropriately haunting piano/keyboard intro played in the higher octaves.
Halloween Theme Song


The Exorcist Theme Song

I’ve always loved these themes and learned to play the basic essence of these songs on the piano. Once upon a time, if people wanted to learn a piano part or their favorite song, they would have to find it on sheet music (assuming they knew how to read music) or just figure it out for themselves.  Now a days, chances are, if the desired piece is very popular, there is a piano tutorial on youtube.  I learned from videos such as these:

Halloween Theme Piano Tutorial

The Exorcist Theme Piano Tutorial

Here are some fun facts concerning these musical themes. John Carpenter, director of Halloween, composed the theme himself.  According to his written piece on his website (theofficialjohncarpenter.com)  – “the rhythm was inspired by an exercise my father taught me on the bongos in 1961, the beating out of 5-4 time.”   Carpenter composed the piece on the fly.  Having little studio time, he was forced to figure things out quickly.  Since he was the least expensive musician available, he used his talents and in my opinion came up with a simple yet brilliant piece.   True he did have a production crew to get the recording just right and the addition of strings and other orchestra instruments added the final touches.  Still, when removing all the layers of production, when just sitting at the piano without any accompaniment and playing the notes in the way Mr. Carpenters intended, you will find it is a fun piece to play.

The theme to The Exorcist is a different story. Its name is Tubular Bells and Prog-Rock artist Michael Oldfield recorded it in 1973 on the album of the same name.   The same year, The Exorcist premiered and used the first few minutes of the nearly 59 minute piece for its horror theme.

The song goes far beyond what is heard in the movie.  It is arranged in two pieces – Tubular Bells Part 1 and Tubular Bells Part 2.  It is a lengthy composition that takes listeners through many mood and structural changes, like any piece of good progressive rock will do. Beginning with mesmerizing keyboard riffs, continuing with joyful piano pieces of triumph, going on to the hard and heavy guitar, and easing the mood now and then with soft acoustics, Tubular Bells is a well crafted composition that takes the listener on quite the musical journey.   The album boasts of using more than 20 musical instruments, overlaid with each other to craft its two pieces. Mike Oldfield played all of them.

The musical themes to these two movies have thrilled me for many years. I hope they continue to delight music lovers and horror fans for many years to come.  They are classics – they should never fade away.


How ya doing all? I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you already know me.   You might be a family member or a colleague of mine.  Maybe you are an old friend from high school or college.   Maybe you know/knew me from “the neighborhood”.   If you know me, then I say “HI!!!!   Nice to hear from you again!”

But perhaps you don’t know me from Adam. Perchance you stumbled across a published story of mine (so far I  have one) on Amazon and you just had to discover more about this author named Daniel W Cheely, so you somehow found your way here.  One can only wish!  If this is the case (rare that it may be), I say “Hi!  Nice to meet you!”

Assuming I’m writing mostly to people I already know, the key to this piece is a strange string of words found within the last paragraph – “author named Daniel W Cheely”.   Does that sound crazy?  If it does, don’t feel guilty, for we share the same sentiments.   Where is this “author” thing coming from?   You might think, “You have tossed words around on Facebook and at times arranged them in a creatively humorous way, but do your really fancy yourself as a writer?  The answer is yeah, I guess I do.  To support such a claim, I have my one published story.  It’s a small thing, a miniature shrub hiding within the “jungles of the Amazon” (you know, that book website) among the behemoth trees of books by authors with well-established roots in the literary forest.   So is it premature of me to be declaring myself an author as if this has been an ongoing , pre-established career path?

The truth is, I have been writing for many years. I have written poems, essays, and short stories.  Before I logged into Facebook for the first time in March 2009, I had written half of a full feature novel.   I have never shared this with you. But I am doing so now.

Before I owned a computer, I scribbled poems and essays in notebooks. Somewhere they exist, but hopefully they dwell inside a box somewhere in my house and not in a landfill.   This was in the 90’s.

In 2007, I began my first novel. It was about a mysterious lighthouse that emitted light from a source that existed within the netherworld.  The phantom light haunted this poor old woman who lived within its path on the seaside off the coast of Washington.   This same light beckoned a much younger woman who resided in Chicago. It called to her from across the country via telepathic means.  She went on a journey to be near this light. She would meet the old woman that was terribly frightened by the light.  The young and the old woman would have to work together to discover the mystery of the lighthouse.  Eventually, I finished the book and even went on to write the sequel.  But I found that the first book needed an overhaul.  A lot of editing was needed and elements of the story needed some rework as well.  I will finish it (and the sequel) one day – that is a promise!

I have also begun a novel about time-travel be way of inhaling the smoke of a cigarette of a special brand (Time Zones!)   It’s a humorous piece of work, as you can imagine based on the description.  This work has been shelved, but I will resume work on it soon.  I’m also working on a novel called “The House Sitter.”   It’s a thriller/horror about an author who writes short stories and draws his inspiration from the house he watches over.

Then there were my blogs. At blogspot.com, I had an interesting anecdotal piece titled “Mickey Mouse Disco Won’t Get You Laid”.   I’ll have to search for that blog one day.  Now, here I am at wordpress.  I had actually started this wordpress blog over a year ago, but I abandoned it as well and left it for dead.  Now I am resurrecting it.  I have redesigned it and it will serve as my author page.  Author = me.   Still sounds weird, but there you go! Please go to the “Published Works” section of this blog and access the link to my published story:  Voices: The Coffin is Calling You, James.     If you ever wondered what it would be life to attend a wake and hear the deceased speak to you, then this book is for you!   More short stories will be coming – they will all be about “voices.”

So…that’s it! I just wanted to reintroduce myself to you all!   If you have never met me, then I will say, “Hi! I’m Daniel W Cheely….an author!”    Thanks for reading.   Peace out!

Daniel W Cheely.