Clouser has also scored numerous other films and TV shows, including writing the theme song for “American Horror Story” and the scores for films like “Dead Silence” and “The Collection.” Most of his projects to date have been horror-adjacent, but it’s the “Saw” movies that have their own unique sound. He said:
“There are some elements in the score for all of the ‘Saw’ movies that I subconsciously feel … have to be there. Whether it’s a particular sound, like the sound of a violin bow on this bow-metal instrument that I have, or whatever. So there are some sonic molecules that I always feel can only be used in a ‘Saw’ movie that I don’t use anywhere else, in any other type of scoring project.”
Clouser added that each character throughout the series has their own subtle theme worked into the score at large. He also noted that every film contains the now-famous “Hello Zepp” theme, the tune that has come to define the sound of all ten “Saw” movies to date.
But there is a philosophy to “Saw” composing that Clouser has adhered to as a matter of course. Just as the characters are being dragged into filthy, horrifying places of death and mutilation, so too does the chord progression drag downward. Clouser stated it thus:
“There are other more philosophical musical approaches that I always use in ‘Saw’ movies. For instance, one tendency I have is that all the chord progressions and where the root node is, where your left hand is on the keyboard, is always moving downwards and never upwards so that it sounds like the music is always transposing down, and dragging the characters and the audience down into some dismal pit.”