Scary 2014!

A composition contest for Halloween
Rules, Instructions and Awards

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

UPDATE 11/17/14:  The Hall of Fame has a new home:   Sixty Seconds Hall of Fame

UPDATE 11/1/14: Scary 2014 - Results
UPDATE 10/27/14:  
Listen and Vote 

In response to comments from several members, we have compiled a list of pros and cons for online competitions. Online Composition Competitions - Pros and Cons

We invite you to read this document and share your experiences. We'd like to hear from you! 

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, but no sound effects this year
  • Does not have to be playable by "real" performers
  • Can use special effects for any orchestral instrument, 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: 

  • Declare your intention to enter by midnight EDT, Wednesday, October 1, 2014 (10/1/14)
  • To declare your intention to enter, just post a message on this page - do NOT include the name of your piece or your secret Halloween name
  • Save the audio version of your completed piece as an .mp3 - How to create .mp3 files from Finale or Sibelius
  • Create a score of your completed piece as a .pdf
  • Must be a member of VirtualArtists - membership is free and easy - Sign Up
  • Notify us through a posting on this thread when you are ready to upload and we'll send you instructions for uploading to your own personal, free VirtualArtists MyVault account.

Instructions for uploading:

  • Deadline for uploading your completed piece is Midnight EDT, Friday October 24th  (10/24/14)
  • You must upload both an .mp3 file and a .pdf file.  Please make sure your files have the appropriate extension.  We will not convert files in the wrong format.
  • Your piece will have a better chance of winning with a name like "Catacombs" then a name like "Op. 42".  
  • Please name both your files with the name of your piece as it will appear in the public voting list.   Example:  Catacombs.pdf  and Catacombs.mp3


  • Top winners will be decided by online voting on VirtualArtists
  • Online voting period is 10/25/14 - 10/31/14
  • All top winners will be premiered at our Halloween Concert and Party  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
  • All composers will upload and share their scores to verify originality and to teach us all some composition tricks!
  • Listen to past winners - Sixty Seconds Hall of Fame

UPDATE 10/27/14:  Listen and Vote

Composers declaring an intention to enter:

Update 10/10/14:  Composers marked with ** have completed their entries.

1.   ** Gav Brown, Parkville, MD, USA
2.   ** Ken Nickels, Downers Grove, IL, USA
3.   ** DuNiKu, Beijing, China
4.   Tim Corpus, Chicago, IL, USA
5.   Luke Flynn, Indianapolis, IN, USA
6.   ** Andrew Freeman, Surrey, UK
7.   ** Norbert Hoffmann, Seefeld in Tirol, Austria
8.   ** Greg Bartholomew, Seattle, WA, USA
9.   Jillian Flexner, Astoria, NY, USA
10. Devin T Fanslow, Muncie, IN, USA
11. Evan Ingalls, Bellingham, WA, USA
12. Noah Balamucki, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
13. Christopher Schlechte-Bond, London, UK
14. Evelyn Castiglioni, College Station, TX, USA
15. ** Stefaan Himpe, Belgium
16. ** Georgia L Lockwood, Kirkland, WA, USA
17. ** Michael Ashjian, Rayfoun, Keserwan, Lebanon
18. ** Andres Lopez, Chile
19. Scardino, Buffalo, NY, USA
20. nailah, New York, NY, USA
21. ** Tracy Zhang, New York, NY, USA
22. ** Johan Halmén, Loviisa, Finland
23. ** Erik Olsson, Pitea, Sweden
24. ** Richard Montgomery, Harlow, UK
25. ** Eugenio Cotardo, Italy
26. ** Kevin Kopczynski, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
27. Brett Copeland, Tampa, FL, USA
28. ** Maciej Bałenkowski,
Wrocław, Poland
29. Greg Brus, Poland

30. ** David Berlin, Gibsonia, PA, USA
31. ** P. Cowell, London, UK
32. ** Atte Tenkanen, Turku, Finland
33. ** Anna Markowicz, Wrocław,Poland
34. ** Alessandro Sicardi,
Milan, Italy
35. Pooh Chan, Bangkok, Thailand
36. ** Otto August Halmén,
Vantaa, Finland
37. Sławomir Zamuszko, Warsaw, Poland
38. ** Burton Goldstein, Santa Monica, CA, USA
39. Fred Larsen, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
40. ** Johnathan Segovia, San Antonio, TX, USA
41. ** Kris Gilbert, Endicott, NY, USA
42. Jeffrey Craig Schaller, Chicago, IL, USA
43. ** Gustaf Blix, Piteå, Sweden
44. Daniel Falk, Manor, PA, USA
45. ** Joseph Coleman, High Point, NC, USA
46. ** William Clyne, USA 
47. ** Norberto Oldrini,
48. ** Alistair Stark, Edinburgh, UK
49. ** Mitch Allen, Rocklin, CA, USA
50. ** Krista Pojman,
Topeka, KS, USA

UPDATE 10/27/14:  Listen and Vote

In response to comments from several members, we have compiled a list of pros and cons for online competitions. Online Composition Competitions - Pros and Cons

We invite you to read this document and share your experiences. We'd like to hear from you!


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Comment by Harmonia on November 2, 2014 at 9:58pm

The final three winners have been selected!   If you're impatient, go to the last three slides ...  Final Results

Congratulations everyone, and thanks for a very fun competition!

Comment by Johan Halmén on November 2, 2014 at 11:04am

I hope you're allowed to fix the cut. To me,  "Must be exactly 60 seconds long" really is about the composition, not the sound file. I hope the censors agree.

Comment by Kris Gilbert on November 2, 2014 at 10:32am

Yes, I had a quasi-ugly cut in mine.  The reverb of the gong and drums lasted beyond 60 seconds, so I opted to quick fade it.  If that's what makes it or breaks it, oh well.

The roar you hear throughout mine (Beezelbub's) is a Lion's Roar Drum/String Drum. 

Comment by ChinaBlues on November 2, 2014 at 5:38am

hi Johan: All those acoustic instruments you describe sound quite interesting.  You also mention "The Swedish name for pump organ is harmonium" - in future would be great to hear your new composition + acoustic recording with these instruments, and of course, along with pictures.  Thanks for sharing :)

Comment by Johan Halmén on November 2, 2014 at 2:27am

Now when I think of it, I really should have made another composition and an acoustic recording, using the instruments in my father-in-law's house. Violins, 2 (!) hurdy-gurdys, wooden horns, auto harps, an old grand piano, two pump organs...

The Swedish name for pump organ is harmonium. My father-in-law used to have three of them, but he gave one to me. I call her Frau Schiedmayer, according to the manufacturer. So if it's a "she", the instrument should perhaps be called Harmonia :)

Comment by Johan Halmén on November 2, 2014 at 2:15am

Some of the audio files had an ugly cut at the end. As it because of the 60 s rule? In my composition I only checked that the last beat on a snare drum rim was exactly at 60 s. But I let the audio file be longer than that, because of the reverbe.

I hope the 7 finalists can, if needed, check the ending of their audio files and re-render the music, if there are cuts before the reverberation ends.

In the comments, someone mentioned the use of sound effects. In my case, all sounds were produced with conventional instruments in MuseScore, in their conventional tone range and, as far as I can tell, written to be playable. Except for a creaking door sound effect, which I recorded playing a real, well tuned violin. I did that while I visited my father-in-law. Among lots of other instruments, he has built a hurdy-gurdy, which would have been wonderful in my piece, but at that time my composition was almost done.

Comment by Michael Ashjian on November 1, 2014 at 6:46pm

My hearty Congratulations, to the 7 highest ranked composers, in the Scary 2014 Composition Competition: Great works indeed...Keep on composing !!!

Comment by Stefaan Himpe on November 1, 2014 at 6:13pm

Congrats to the seven highest ranked composers!

Sorry to be nitpicking again: I double-checked the calculations and got different numbers. I left out the "all my fav pieces are in another group" votes, and I get the following statistics:

(the 7 highest ranked correctly correspond to what's listed in the result slides)

* Total no of votes = 21055

Ranking Title Votes PCT
1 Don't Look Back 3153 14.98%
2 Under Hypnosis 2492 11.84%
3 Mysterious Disappearance 2429 11.54%
4 Beelzebub's Lair 1507 7.16%
5 Monstrum 1213 5.76%
6 Boo!!! 908 4.31%
7 Zombie's Tango 798 3.79%
8 The Nightmare 637 3.03%
9 The Scream 632 3.00%
10 Latigazos de San Nicolas 550 2.61%
11 The Attic 519 2.46%
12 Wrong Costume! 503 2.39%
13 The Uncanny Valley 465 2.21%
14 Walk Through Witch Wood 429 2.04%
15 Welcome 428 2.03%
16 Two To Be Hanged Upon the Tyburn Tree 415 1.97%
17 Worms Shall Eat Thee Up 364 1.73%
18 Something Wicked This Way Comes 355 1.69%
19 Riding Hood Fears Forest 303 1.44%
20 Last Flight of the Vampires 285 1.35%
21 One Silver Minute 273 1.30%
22 Poltergeist 259 1.23%
23 Prologue to Rebirth 253 1.20%
24 Blood Moon 246 1.17%
25 Satanic Rituals 231 1.10%
26 A Ghastly, Ghostly Waltz 230 1.09%
27 Night at the Toy Store 218 1.04%
28 Netherworld 199 0.95%
29 Helloween Feb 1944 190 0.90%
30 Face in the Mirror 177 0.84%
31 Dracula Walk 165 0.78%
32 Danse Macabre 135 0.64%
33 Dance of My Lover's Ghost 94 0.45%
Comment by Johan Halmén on November 1, 2014 at 5:42pm

Thanks. I never intended to make the music come alive. Undead, maybe... ;)

Comment by Harmonia on November 1, 2014 at 5:23pm

Hi Johan -

First, the comments will be included for everyone to see in the slide show that is currently in progress.  Competitions - Scary 2014 - Results   Check this slide show periodically - it is being updated frequently.

Secondly, I loved your "Attic" movie.  The pictures really made the music come alive!  I think you should leave it on YouTube unless someone objects.  It's great!

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