Tag Archives: sounds

“BRAAAM!”: The Sound that Invaded the Hollywood Soundtrack

Illustration by Kjell Reigstad.

Adrian Daub | Longreads | December 2016 | 15 minutes (3,902 words)

 

You walk into a local multiplex a few minutes after the lights have dimmed. You find your seat to the first trailer, some confection involving superheroes or zombies. As the light flickers over you, strings churn from the speakers, interrupted at certain intervals by a massive blast of indistinguishable brass, like an alphorn next to an amplifier.

Does this sound familiar? At some point movies started braying at us like ships lost in a fog, and we have come to accept that as perfectly normal. Variations on this sound sequence — a simple string motif interrupted by sudden bursts of non-melodic noise — are everywhere in film soundtracks and trailers. It is the noise that goes with people in spandex standing in a Delacroix-style tableau, or so Hollywood has decided. It is the sound we know is coming when a trailer intercuts CGI objects slamming into each other with portentous fades-to-black.

The internet and the sound’s creator refer to it as BRAAAM. (If you think you’ve successfully avoided it, here’s a sample). It may sound synthetic, but it’s usually produced with brass instruments and a prepared piano. Although it has its roots in a scoring style composer Hans Zimmer employed for much of the early ’00s, the BRAAAM heard in seemingly every trailer was first recorded for Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film Inception, and has been adapted, copied, and even outright sampled ever since. Is BRAAAM something that happened to us, or is it something we, as moviegoers, desired?

Read more…

How to Spell the Rebel Yell

Elena Passarello | The Normal School | 2010 | 14 minutes (3,470 words)

The Normal SchoolOur latest Longreads Member Pick is a deep dive into the sounds of history, from Elena Passarello and The Normal School. The essay also is featured in Passarello’s book, Let Me Clear My Throat.
Buy the book

Download .mobi (Kindle) Download .epub (iBooks)

 

“Yee-aay-ee!” “Wah-Who-Eeee!” -Margaret Mitchell

 

“Wah-Who-Eeee!” -Chester Goolrick

 

“Rrrrrr-yahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip!”

-H. Allen Smith

 

“More! More! More!” -Billy Idol

Read more…