gustavo santaolalla


Carpenter himself has been touring in support of his new album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998. In addition to directing, John Carpenter wrote and performed the music for most of his movies. He started with low budget horror films (Halloween 1978) where it was essential for him to create the music. The budget didn’t allow for a professional composer.

It can be argued that Halloween movie would not be the cult favorite that it is — without John Carpenter’s distinctive music. Carpenter’s resurgence as a touring musician is also in line with our culture’s longing for (the 80’s) a much simpler and optimistic time. Whether it’s the enchantment of this year’s IT remake or Netflix’s Stranger Things. The generic 80’s Synth sound has made a comeback and John Carpenter is the Godfather.

If you’d like to upgrade your Halloween night listening, check out Trent Reznor’s industrial take on John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween theme.


As evidenced by this blog, I’m a huge fan of multi-instrumentalist composer, Gustavo Santaolalla. His music is synonymous with the world. He seems to capture at once the sound of Latin America, as well as distant cultures from other continents.

For this interpretation of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme — I wanted to to reimagine it as a “world” sounding piece. To accomplish this, I looked no further than the unceasing fingerstyle of Gustavo Santaolalla.

Gear Used

My guitar is a Cordoba C7. I use this guitar specifically for low, alternate tunings. I keep it strung with Savarez Yellow Card strings.

Click here for an updated list of my gear.

How to play John Carpenter’s Halloween (Santaolalla style)

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I would characterize this song as best for intermediate to advanced guitar players. While the guitar tab is only two pages long, and very easy to read, the relentless fingerstyle technique will take some samina that a beginner guitarist may not have yet.

For a couple of the chord shapes on page one, you’ll notice in the guitar tab, that I play an open string at the end of the passage. I do this to allow me time to get to the next chord shape without missing a beat. I didn’t even realize I was doing until I listened back to the recording. 

The guitar tab is played straight through twice. You’ll take care to |: repeat :| each indicated section twice. I love playing this, please enjoy!

The guitar tab is available below:

Halloween is played in a low, alternate tuning. From Low to high: B E B F# F# B

John Carpenter’s Halloween Theme for classical guitar (Santaolalla style)


Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, film composer - Broken Noons, creator of modern content for guitar.