The BBC’s Dracula used real blood – and coffins – in its soundtrack

If music be the food of vampires… play on

Claes Bang as Dracula (BBC)

When watching the new BBC/Netflix adaptation of Dracula this New Year’s Day, be sure to pay attention to what’s playing in the background – because hidden within the soundtrack, there are some seriously creepy noises dripping away.

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At a recent screening for the new horror series’ first episode, it was revealed that composers David Arnold and Michael Price included all sorts of thematically appropriate materials into the musical score…

“The music needs to stink of Dracula in a way, it needs to be infecting everything. And so we sort of created a bunch of quite awful sounds that were musical,” Arnold explained.

“One of which was actual real blood in a glass, running your finger in a ring around the top of the rim. Which [Dracula actor Claes Bang] actually does.”

The blood, happily, was from the butcher rather than the neck of some unlucky victim – and Arnold and Price didn’t stop there when it came to creating their Dracula “sound world”.

“We created percussion themes with coffins,” Arnold said.

“The best thing was, I got the sound department to send me all their recordings of screaming babies, and I made an organ out of screaming babies. There’s some software where you can mess around with the pitch of things, but keep the sound and the tone.”

“They let me do it!” he added after gasps from the crowd.

Jonathan (John Heffernan) and Dracula (Claes Bang) (BBC)
Jonathan (John Heffernan) and Dracula (Claes Bang) (BBC)

“This is like black magic!” joked series co-creator Mark Gatiss.

“We just sort of talked about getting a kind of weird quality. Because it is weird, and a weird combination of things. So you want to sort of reflect that.”

In the finished soundtrack, it’s unclear how much viewers at home will actually be able to recognise Arnold and Price’s creepier sound effects amid the more traditional instruments – but when it comes to the world of Dracula, it feels very appropriate that the true horror is there, just bubbling below the surface.

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Dracula comes to BBC One on Wednesday 1st January at 9.00pm