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Psycho Thriller

The master at work

Janet Leigh once admitted that, since her infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, she hasn't taken a shower. When you've been traumatized like that, there are really only two possible responses -- either develop a love of baths or drastically reassess your personal hygiene priorities.

But as much as we remember the brutal images of that scene, the accompanying musical score has left the more indelible mark on pop culture. The high-pitched staccato notes that signaled the end for Marion Crane rank up there with the theme from Jaws as the most ominous movie music of all time.

Or maybe not. At least with Jaws, you have a few minutes from the beginning of the slow, thrumming cadence until it reaches a mad rush and you are pulled under the reddening waves. But when you hear the shrill, piercing notes of Psycho, you know the jig is up. There is a sicko in a wig standing right behind you, and the butcher knife is already descending.

As the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock knew that music plays a key role in evoking an emotional response from a moviegoer. Using some of Hollywood's greatest composers, he gave each of his movies an unforgettably dark, tension-filled atmosphere.

The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra presents some of the most memorable Hitchcock-movie soundtracks this week in "Hitchcock: Master of Mystery." The orchestra performs scores from North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder, Spellbound, and of course Psycho. The performance of some of the most memorable scary music in movie history accompanies film footage of some of the finest Hitchcockian moments at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Monday. Make sure to shower before you leave for the show.

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