It's S C A R Y time again! Halloween Composition Contest - Scary Sixty Seconds


A composition contest for Halloween
Rules, Instructions and Awards

It's time for our Annual Scary Sixty Seconds contest!  

Rules for writing your Scary piece:

  • Must be exactly 60 seconds long
  • Must be written using Finale or Sibelius, or any other notational or DAW software
  • Can use any instruments or sound effects
  • Does not have to be playable by "real" performers
  • Can use special effects, any register or range, fancy things like six octave glissandos or growling sounds.  The only limit is your imagination!!
  • One entry per person, please

Instructions for entering your Scary piece:

  • Save the audio version of your completed piece as an .mp3 - How to create .mp3 files from Finale or Sibelius
  • Must be a member of VirtualArtists - membership is free and easy - Sign Up
  • Upload your .mp3 through the VirtualArtists DropBox.  Don't use your real name, and make sure your file name begins with SCARY_.   Example SCARY_Monsters.mp3, by Creepy Q. Crawley.   
  • As the entries come in, an administrator will post them into this forum for folks to hear.  No one will know the identities of the composers until the night the winners are chosen!
  • Save your Finale or Sibelius file - top winners will also upload the winning scores.
  • Deadline for uploading your .mp3 file is Midnight, Friday October 25th  (10/25/13)


  • Top winners will be decided by online voting on VirtualArtists -  Check back here for voting after 10/25/13.
  • All top winners will be premiered at our Halloween Concert and Party - Saturday, November 2, 2013 in Chapel Hill, NC.   Check VirtualArtists Events for details!
  • The list of winners will be finalized by audience vote at the concert
  • FIRST PRIZE :   $100.00  - piece is added to the Sixty Second Hall of Fame
  • SECOND PRIZE:  $50.00  - piece is added to the Sixty Second Hall of Fame
  • THIRD PRIZE - piece is added to the Sixty Second Hall of Fame
  • Winners will upload their scores to verify originality and to teach us all some composition tricks!
  • Listen to past winners - Sixty Seconds Hall of Fame

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REMINDER:  Voting closes TODAY SATURDAY NOVEMBER 2  at 2 pm.   You can come to our concert tonight and vote one more time:   Harmonia Halloween Concert & Party

We're all dressing up as witches and goblins and such ... come in costume or come in plain clothes!   Hope to see you soon!!

Voting is now officially CLOSED.   Thanks to all the ghouls and ghosts who voted, and to you humans as well!   Winners will be announced tonight after the live audience votes. 

The concert was fabulous and fun!   Wish you all could have joined us!   Now, the moment you've been waiting for:

THE WINNER IS:   The Mad Witch with a total of 61 votes -- secret composer is Greg Brus, from Poland

SECOND PLACE IS:  Final Playdate with a total of 31 votes -- secret composer is Noah Balamucki, from North Carolina

THIRD PLACE IS: Trapped with a total of 17 votes - secret composer is Kevin Kopczynski, from North Carolina

4th: Down the Cellar Stairs - 15 votes - secret composer is Robert Hunter, from Stinson Beach, California

5th: Conversations in an Asylum - 6 votes - secret composer is Samantha Strowd, from North Carolina

6th:  Two-way tie between

        The Haunted Harpsichord - 5 votes - secret composer is Julie Harris, from North Carolina
        AND        Graveyard - 5 votes - secret composer is Grace Gollmar, from North Carolina

7th: In the House of the Hollower - 2 votes - secret composer is Keith Garside, from Maryland

Someone at the concert pointed out an interesting item  ... Greg Brus is from Poland,  "Kopczynski" and "Balamuczki" were both originally Polish names.  Hmmmm.   Verrrry interesting!

Many people said that ALL the pieces were wonderful and I agree.  Thanks to all you fabulous composers!  

Now that we know all the winners and the names of the secret composers, it's time to share our scores with each other!   I've asked composers to post the scores for their scary pieces and also tell us a little about their process of creation.   Please feel free to ask any of these composers how they worked their magic!

Please post your scores and tell us a little about your tools, your creative process, anything you'd like to share.

To post your scores, save them as .pdf files and click on the Upload Files link below the reply box.  Your files will then be attached to your comments.

Robert Hunter confesses to being a bit of a "luddite" and asked me to post his score.   Here are his comments about the score creation.  I find these comments very helpful in reading the score:

"A couple of notes on the score. First, I hope the score is somewhat understandable as I'm in the infant stages of being able to write legible music. Second, you'll note that my staves are quite out of the traditional order, for the main reason that it's easier for me to write using this order. Third, you'll likely be puzzled by the notation for the cymbals. One thing I've not yet learned to do is write using percussion staves, so I take the easy way out. The East West Orchestra has a set of about 50 cymbals - to access each requires one using a different note across the grand staff. I've added notes to the cymbal notation to indicate which cymbals are being used. Finally, I use two staves for the timpani, one for simple hits and one for rolls. While someone who knows how to write music would put these on one staff, because I'm accessing two different instruments in the East West Orchestra, it's a lot easier for me to just use two staves. I hope this helps."  -- Robert Hunter on "Down the Cellar Stairs"


hi Robert : I have just been listening to DownTheCellarStairs - really good work :)  I am also just learning about writing music, and after review of your score, will post more questions...

Thanks for listening and for your compliment!

Final Playdate is a musical murder story. It revolves around a jump-rope rhyme, sung by four children at a playdate. There are four verses, and each time, one less child is singing (and then there were none). In the second verse a low raspy voice starts singing the rhyme in unison with the children, and a second rough, raspy voice begins singing alternate words in unison with the children (for example, when the children say “We’ll carve a pumpkin on the floor” the rough voice sings “carve a smile ever more”).

Final Playdate isn’t a piece I’m especially proud of from a musical standpoint—it doesn’t really go anywhere with its theme and its theme isn’t even original—anyone who’s heard the music from “A Nightmare On Elm Street” will know that.  

The score itself is impossibly notated—Playdate is an electronic piece with Finale Notation chosen as the synthesizer.

The realization of Playdate was meticulous. I wrote out the verses on paper, then settled on a tempo of 120. At 120 each measure is 2 seconds long, so I knew the piece would be 30 measures long exactly. I calculated how many measures would be needed for the verses, introduction and interludes between the verses. This way I knew exactly what would be going on in each measure and every second of my piece before I started writing it. I then sang the verses in Garage Band and began writing my interludes in Finale. 

 - Noah Balamucki on "Final Playdate"


My Scary composition has been uploaded into My Vault.  gl


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