John Carpenter's Music...
as Musical Data


This project undertook the analysing and encoding of a selection of John Carpenter's film scores using a mixture of different software applications and programming languages.

As a musician I have always had a fascination for the work that goes into writing, composing and performing a music score that encapsulates the atmosphere of a film.

John Carpenter is not only famous for writing and directing many successful movies from the horror / fantasy genres, he is also highly acclaimed for composing and performing music scores for many of his movies.

What John Carpenter achieved with some of his scores shows a perfect balance of simple, minimalistic, atmospheric, and memorable music, which highly complemented his movie’s dramatics, atmospherics, and tensions.

The idea was to analyse three main theme songs from three of John Carpenter’s movies and compare them with shorter pieces of music from each movie. The analysis includes looking for similarities in musical notation such as recurring notes and melodies, keys and key changes, etc.

The dataset includes a mixture of self- transcribed musical notation, self-generated midi files, audio and visual analyses derived from different software applications such as MuseScore, Excel, Sonic Visualiser and Music21. There is also encoded metadata included for each piece. The dataset is publicly available on GitHub here

To visualise the musical data there are charts and histograms of the musical notes generated by midi and spread sheets of selected musical data.

The musical notation for each of the six music pieces is published in html Web pages. Please note that this is not in any way supposed to be the accurate musical notation for the music that was analysed. It is more to present how it is possible to publish music notation into html pages.



There are several sources available online which have collected different forms of data related John Carpenter's music.

Some sources are primarily concerned with metadata about John Carpenter's recorded and released output. These are generally focused on basic information such as artist, title, year released, and album, but some have included BPM and even genre.

There is desriptive information available on John Carpenter's music written in blogs such as Liberty Park Music, which describe in detail the music's composition, harmony, rhythm, breaks in patterns, melody and the music's role in the movies.

There are videos on YouTube which give a step-by-step tutorial on how a musician can reproduce the synthesizer, electric piano, and drum machine sounds of some of John Carpenter's music, with a description of some of the types of musical patterns is included.

Some musical notation and sheet music from the movie 'Halloween' is available online, which has been notated by users of the MuseScore software. One user in particular has notated separate parts of the piece - the piano and the synth parts. The user also gives descriptive information such as arranger.

No other resources containing visual musical data analsyes were found online.


Here's a taster into the piano music of Halloween (1979). The music was extracted from playing the original music through Ableton Live. To transcribe the music, it was turned into a MIDI file then ran through MusicScore, which gives you this basic (but not horrible) piano sound.


This exercise is compare the music and tempo of the original theme for Escape from New York (1984) with music encoded by software. It is very similar, but the musical output created with the MIDI file is not 100% accurate, and therefore there's a chance that extra or less musical notes have been added in error.

Listen to Escape from New York (1981) Main Theme from the video above and compare with the piano version created with MuseScore below

Developed by Allan G. McCafferty