Why Have Unique Sound Design in Trailer Music?

Trailer music is very much a hybrid style of music. Knowing how to program realistic and emotive orchestral parts is just as important as having new, modern sounds that make everything sound larger than life.

In some cases, it can be even more important than knowing how to program realistic orchestral parts, especially if you are focusing more on sound design cues than hybrid orchestral trailer music.

So, how do we as composers get super high quality sounds that are also new, modern and not overused?

There are a few ways to ensure you have great sounds at your disposal.

#1 - Create your own sounds from scratch
#2 - Invest into third-party sample packs/libraries which specialize in trailer sound design

Let’s go through them all in a bit more detail…

#1 - CREATING YOUR OWN SOUNDS

This approach requires you to either record your own raw sounds (hitting objects, drum hits, slamming a big door, tapping a wine glass with a knife to create an audible note, playing an old wooden recorder) and processing them into larger than life sounds to use in your trailer music works: braams, drones, sub/low booms, downers, risers, reverse FX, signature sounds, massive trailer hits and more.

This process is really fun, especially once you start processing your own sounds that you have recorded.

However, this can be a little bit tricky when you are first starting out.

If you’re like me when you first started writing trailer music (for me it was hybrid trailer music), the last thing you want to focus on is trying to figure out how to create high quality sounds from scratch before you can even compose & produce music to a professional standard.

It’s only after I got comfortable writing trailer music and producing it that I started to delve into the world of sound design.

And that’s something to remember: sound design is its own world entirely. It is vast and epic.

Now, once you start exploring it, creating your own sounds from scratch is actually really fun. It’s really satisfying when you take a sound that you recorded on your iPhone or other handheld recorder and turned it into a huge trailer hit.

It can be another way of being creative, rather than just composing. You can make a day trip out of it, recording your own sounds outdoors and spending the afternoon processing a few of them in your DAW.

Even now, after learning about sound design for over a year, I’m still not quite at the level where I would exclusively just use my own sounds in my trailer music. Also, I find that I am much better at harmonic sound design at this stage (braams, drones, signature sounds, etc.) rather than percussive sounds like trailer hits and sub booms.

I’m constantly developing this skill, and so I still use other sample libraries/packs alongside my own sounds. That also includes harmonic sounds, especially when I’m on a tight deadline – sometimes there isn’t enough time to create unique sounds from scratch.

That’s when many composers turn to:

#2 - THIRD-PARTY SOUNDS

When you don’t know much about sound design or there are tight deadlines to meet, or you simply want to focus on composing the music more than the actual sound design aspect of trailer music, this is when investing into third-party sample libraries/packs.

Using collections of unique sounds that are created by sample library developers is usually a big time saver, which is what a lot of us composers look for.

There are some trailer sound design samples from several years ago that are so common that composers, publishers and trailer editors know exactly when they are being used in trailer tracks.

This is isn’t always good, because editors are constantly looking for new sounds that have not been overused. They want something that is unique, captivating and high quality.

So it is important to regularly look at your sound design collection and think about whether or not it might be an idea to look into investing in other sound design packs.

Now, just because some sounds have been around for a few years, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them. I still love using sounds from sample libraries that have been around for a few years. What you can do is layer in newer sounds to make things sound more fresh and modern.

Sometimes we will go back to sounds that we have loved for years, sometimes we will layer them with new sounds, and sometimes we will just use completely new sounds. It really depends on the project at hand, what it requires and what you think will work best.

More often that not though, trailer music editors will look for tracks that are using different sounds which they haven’t heard countless times before.

Afterall, the purpose of film trailers is to hook the audience and make them want to see the film in cinemas.

To do that effectively, trailers need to be new, fresh and different – this applies to how the trailers are edited, what action moments are shown, any comedic moments, how the sounds bring them into that film’s world and what kind of emotional response the music creates.

That is why unique sound design is extremely important in trailer music.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE:

The best way to move forward from here is to look at the sounds you already have, and think about whether or not you might need some new sounds in the future.

There are always new and exciting sounds being made for composers to use in their works.

Thank you for reading, and hopefully you found some value in this post!

BLOG POST BY:
TOM HAWK

Music Composer, Sound Designer & Content Creator

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