Here at the Haunted Gallery, we love sitting back and relaxing with a good ghost story.
As a matter of fact, up the stairs and at the end of the hall, you will find a room designed especially for such a purpose. In this room, it is always a dark and stormy night. Rain slashes against the window pain, thunder rolls across the sky. Inside soft music from another time is playing on the radio while an old clock ticks slowly towards midnight... 11:31pm to be exact.
A small but growing selection of ghost stories awaits you on the bookshelf, or feel free to bring your own.
As always, a word of caution. Do not turn off the radio. After all, this is the Haunted Gallery and the spirits that dwell within the room can be rather unpleasant when you disrupt their music. Off you go!
Back in the late 80's, when I was around eight or nine years old, my mom took us to a department store. I don't remember the name of the store and I don't believe it even exists anymore. (Places like Wal-Mart and Target were still years off, at least in our town). It was in the month of October and as we walked into the store my eyes were immediately drawn towards the unusually dark corner of the store on my left. In that corner, all of the store's Halloween decorations were on display. Whoever set up the displays was a fan of Halloween because it was clearly evident in their work. It appeared as if every decoration for sale had a completely assembled representative lurking somewhere amongst the merchandise. Ghosts floated just above my head, strung from the ceiling above, strobe lights flashed and a fog wafted along the linoleum tile below. A cassette of Halloween sounds played from some unseen stereo hidden in the shelves.
Out of all the Halloween stimuli, my attention was directed to a cardboard display in the center of the area. Inside the box were all sorts of sinister looking plastic weapons. I had never seen Halloween props like this before. There were battle axes stained deep with crimson, the blades were nicked and jagged. There were swords, bigger than most children could even wield, with vampire skulls fused into the hilt. Pitchforks that looked like they had been manufactured in some hellish underworld toy factory.
Impressive as this was, what truly seared itself into my memory was the two-color mural emblazoned upon the cardboard armory. The sky was orange, a Halloween sunset was the impression I got. Below the sky where the silhouettes of an army of evil, grotesque creatures. Hundreds of them equipped with the weapons from the box. They were marching across what looked like a harvested cornfield. I just stood there looking at the box wondering how horrifying it would be to encounter this army of Halloween in the last minutes of dying sunlight. The image had a medieval feeling to it. Perhaps there was a Halloween that looked much like this long ago before the Halloween we've come to know.
Many of the image compositions I create today depict spooky sunsets. This is directly inspired from the feeling that has always been with me ever since I saw that display. One day, I will recreate that image for the Haunted Gallery...
In case you haven't noticed, it is always evening here at the Haunted Gallery and the posts have a habit of happening very late... in the evening...
Friends of the Gallery, another soundscape is in the works and in an attempt to become more clever and creative with each project, this one is different - this one will be a Halloween dare - More details to follow.
On a side note, I wanted to touch briefly again on the subject of downloading soundscapes. The soundscapes are not for sale because they are free. I make each soundscape using sounds from all over the internet, with little concern for where the sounds come from. Because of this, I could not possibly charge for them. The concept however, is mine and I have no problem sharing my compositions at no charge.
I am trying to find a way that allows me to upload my soundscapes so that fans can download them. I was using Opendrive but there are bandwidth limits which are exceeded very quickly. If anybody knows of a good (free) way to accomplish this please, send me a comment so I can continue sharing them with the community.
If you've never listened to Hauntcast radio before, head over and check them out. In this month's Hauntcast, friend of the Haunted Gallery and accomplished Halloween enthusiast ShellHawk gives listeners some wonderful insight into The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in "The Charmed Pot" segment. She was even so kind as to mention a certain soundscape of particular relevance... :)
Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the exhibition of the Haunted Gallery's newest Soundscape. The Midnight Ride of Ichabod Crane... The capstone piece in my 2011 Halloween Soundscape collection. If you are unfamiliar with the project, browsing older "Midnight Ride" posts will bring up up to speed. For those of you who have been anticipating this soundscape, the time has come.
The soundscape you are about to hear tells the frightful tale of Ichabod's ride through the Hollow exclusively through sound. The soundscape captures the journey in real-time. In an effort to remain as true to the original story as possible, I have taken most of my audio cues from the short story itself, deviating only if it was unavoidable. The remarkable aspect of this project is that it was created using sounds extracted from existing videos out on the internet. I spend many a long evening scavenging across the web to find sounds that blended well together to make this story.
Remaining as authentic as possible, this soundscape focuses on the subtle sounds of the tale. You are going to want to listen to this with headphones or a good stereo system (preferably in a very dark room). The devil is in the details and discerning ears will detect all of the nuances from the original text. Little hints are evident if you know where to listen. For example, If you listen to the laughter in at the Harvest party, you might deduce one cackle dominating above all the others. This can only belong to Ichabod's adversary Brom Bones... and it sounds familiar...
With that said, we now join Ichabod, perched near the warm security of the autumn hearth. Merry music fills the estate and bolsters the schoolteacher's courage for the ride home. Bundle up and cover your necks! It's a dark, chilly Halloween night and were headed deep into Sleepy Hollow!
This evening, near the stroke of midnight (EST), the Haunted Gallery will present the its main exhibit for the 2011 Halloween season... the frightful tale of the schoolmaster's journey home through Sleepy Hollow told in sound... The Midnight Ride of Ichabod Crane. The tale begins in a moment bravery mustered from the merry music of the Van Tassel annual harvest party. Below is an excerpt from the original story, the details of which you will hear this evening...
"It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, pursued his travel homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon.
The hour was dismal and far below him, the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the land.
In the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking of the watch dog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man.
Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off from some farmhouse away among the hills—but it was like a dreaming sound in his ear.
No signs of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bull-frog, from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably, and turning suddenly in his bed.
All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the evening now came crowding upon his recollection.
The night grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and dismal. He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid.
In the centre of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled, and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air.
As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle: he thought his whistle was answered—it was but a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches.
As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw something white, hanging in the midst of the tree—he paused and ceased whistling; but on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid bare.
Suddenly he heard a groan—his teeth chattered and his knees smote against the saddle: it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him.
About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley’s swamp. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grapevines, threw a cavernous gloom over it.
To pass this brook was the severest trial. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.
The sky grew darker and darker as one by one the stars winked out their lights and driving clouds obscured the moon from sight.
Once inside the murky glen, Ichabod’s anxiety increased one hundred-fold. For now, the forest seemed to close in behind him. Every small detail of Brom’s awful story returned to haunt is recollection..."