’Devil’s Interval’ Makes ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Theme Unforgettably Spooky

Neil Lerner Headshot

Davidson College Professor and Music Department Chair Neil Lerner was quoted in the Los Angeles Times this past weekend.

Lerner was asked why the theme song to the long-running—and recently rebooted—TV show “Unsolved Mysteries” was so spooky. (New episodes of “Unsolved Mysteries” premiered on Netflix last week. The reboot changes a few things—no host, for example—but the theme song remains the same.)

Lerner, who teaches a “Music and Sound In Horror Film” class, attributes the power of the “Mysteries” theme to the dissonant tritone, known as the “devil’s interval.”

Horror movie fans will also note that the theme echoes another famously eerie piece of music: The theme to 70s horror classic, “Halloween.”

“The music in ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ has the [same] repetition” as the sinister theme from “Halloween,” he says. “That droning and repeating [in the ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ theme] is part of what makes it ominous. It seems impervious to moving anywhere, and when it does move, it moves into really unexpected places, which is what the ‘Halloween’ theme does.”


  • July 9, 2020