Alan Chapman has a lot to say about music, but can he say it in 60 seconds? That’s the Chapman Challenge. We ask a question and Alan has a minute to answer it.

Today’s question is in honor of Halloween. And the question is what is the spookiest instrument?

Hit play below to listen to this week’s Chapman Challenge.


I think a very good candidate would be an electronic instrument invented in the 1920s by a Russian named Leon Theremin, who named the instrument after himself. This is what a theremin sounds like:

That’s not spooky but listen to this: Bernard Herrmann using two theremins to create an unearthly sound in the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Now, if by “spooky” you mean “scary,” I’ll go to Bernard Herrmann again. He showed us that you can make violins sound scary if you know what to with them, as he does in a famous scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Happy Halloween!