Stage & Screen

Film & TV: Tension & Suspense (with a teacher)

This activity is for classroom use. Your teacher will have further material to use alongside the clips and information below.


You are being chased by an unknown animal in a forest. It is beginning to get dark and there is a thick fog building around you. You reach a graveyard in the forest and stop to gather your breath. Suddenly you hear the snapping of a twig in front of you and a mysterious shape looms in the darkness…


Video 1


Imagine you are a film composer who has been asked to write some music to this scene. You are about to meet the director of the film, who wants to hear your ideas as to how you could create tension and suspense! What musical ideas would you include?



Take a look at the musical ideas below and then listen to the music clips. Can you work out which ideas belong to which music clip?

One of the music clips uses two ideas.

Image 1

Audio 1


Audio 2


Audio 3


Audio 4


Audio 5



In small groups you are now going to compose your own piece of music to the animation in Section 1. It must be full of tension and suspense…


You have to use two of the above musical ideas in your piece. Keep your musical ideas a secret and see whether the other groups can guess which ideas you used when you perform your piece of music to the class.




Chords: Two or more notes played together

Dynamics: The volume (degrees of loud and quiet) in a piece of music

Pedal: A sustained note, over which other melodies are played

Pitch: Whether a note is high or low

Stabs: A short repeated rhythmic or melodic idea

Rhythm: A combination of notes that are of different lengths or durations


All media credits – titles, composers, artists, sources etc. – may be found in the Teacher Sheet, accessed from the Info box at the top of this page.