Other Songs of the Haunted Mansion:
Modern Music Possessed By 999 Happy Haunts
Have you ever heard a song you could swear was somehow enkindled by the Disneyland's Haunted Mansion? Besides via a supernatural hunch, how can one scientifically qualify a "Grim Grinning Ghosts"-inspired song? Unless it's an outright cover version, melody alone isn't quite enough, for any musician will alter the tune at least sufficiently to avoid a lawsuit while still paying homage to a beloved inspiration. Nor is a dirge-like pace a sure sign, as the Haunted Mansion ride-through features both slow and fast renditions. Yet there are several elements that, when taken as a whole, may point to a conscious or perhaps even unconscious tribute to Buddy Baker's famous theme:
- chords lasting two beats of a 4/4 measure
- instrumentation proper to a spooky mansion seance or "swinging wake" (organ, harpsichord, tuba, tubular bells, spirit trumpet, tambourine, harp)
- an unnaturally minor key (the word "unnatural" is required here because of course in musical notation a "natural" note is not flatted. Does that, eerily, by definition, make all minor keys "unnatural"? Lest we forget, in the uncanny notation of the vibrational realm, there's such a thing as "C sharp flat," which a mortal might mistake for a garden variety "C" but which, mysteriously, isn't -- every context creates another side of the veil).
- a progression from A minor to B major
- X number of notes corresponding to the original Buddy Baker melody ("X" in honor of X. Atencio, obviously).
Let's consider two examples, one funereal and the other New Orleans-style.
The Swedish band Ghost records theatrical, campy-horror rock. Their song "Monstrance Clock" (2013) has their typically gothic, satanic themes (unsubtly, black candles and pentagrams feature in the lyrics), but, as Thurl might say, "Listen!" The first eight beats of Buddy Baker's melody are reproduced identically, with some flourishes added to the second bar. (At 17 seconds into "Monstrance Clock," a Haunted Mansion bass line is unmistakable; an electric guitar plays two-beat notes like an organ. Here's a Youtube link to the audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkoIEbjbsM). In our illustration, we've jotted in blood-curdling blue ink Ghost's spirit-doubling of Baker's original score.
Given the gloomy lyrics and the note-for-note mirroring (even in the same key as Baker's original), we're confident that Ghost's song is a deliberate homage to the Haunted Mansion and is meant to evoke that sinister atmosphere from moment one.
Speaking of invocations, the German band BerlinskiBeat seeks to summon the Roaring Twenties back to life, and in their song "Nacht in Berlin" (2012), we hear an upbeat "swinging wake" of the jazz age, complete with harpsichords and spirit trumpets. (Note especially the brass bass line in the final chorus, beginning at the 2:25 mark. The vocals through the song are very much in the tempo and spirit of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" as well. Here's the official video, just for the audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNNqOQy0fV8). Each note of their melody line aligns to Buddy Baker's chord progressions -- not always exactly the dominant melody line from the Haunted Mansion, but always within Baker's realm. (It's as if BerlinskiBeat has taken a spirit from the Haunted Mansion and created, in turn, their own Pepper's Ghost projection of it -- their spirit dances along with the original in perfect time but is perceived from a different angle and hence comes across as a separate manifestation.) Even an untrained listener's ear will pick up on the harmonic interweaving and detect echoes of the Haunted Mansion in a seemingly unrelated melody. Put another way, Baker created a mathematical formula in his composition, and BerlinskiBeat's music is a corollary of it. In our illustration, we've jotted in bayou blue BerlinksiBeat's levitation of Baker's second bar. Like a sheet ghost, the contours of the sonic shape remain basically the same. To reiterate, the raised notes augment the pre-existing Baker chords.
Whether or not BerlinskiBeat has created a deliberate homage is an occult question. We might lean toward there being an unconscious inspiration in this case -- the composers were aware of Buddy Baker's melody, though perhaps distantly, and the original theme very literally haunted their own.
What Haunted Mansion-inspired songs have interpenetrated your world?