For added atmosphere, play the music from this trailer while reading on.
Trailers love to play up excitement and mystery, and as of The New '10s
, one favorite way to do this by tickling the ears with an unusual sound. One of these sounds is the Previews Pulse. It is often created by an instrument known as a blaster beam
which creates a single chord which ends up sounding technological and mysterious. Other methods are through mixing several instruments, usually bass, or altering the sound of a horn.
These "pulses" are used in trailers to create a feeling of sudden tension, similar to a Scare Chord
, but are rarely used in the movie itself, as it may be distracting. A trailer that uses them is often made up of rapidly cut snippets, with the chord announcing with each new scene.
Not to be confused with Heartbeat Soundtrack
, another common trailer trope.
- The score of Princess Mononoke begins with two reverb-heavy pulses from a massive taiko drum.
- The Unbuilt Ur-Example is likely the trailer for Alien. Here, it is a remixed and drawn out sonar ping, and is much more high pitched and unnerving.
- Bonus points for the Heartbeat Soundtrack mixed with this in the trailer. The combined effect of the sonic ping sounding like a surreal warning alarm, the varying heartbeat and additional sound layering is astonishingly effective at creating a sense of terror even today. When it released it must have been mind blowing.
- The second The Avengers trailer had some instances of this, coupled with Loki's Hannibal Lecture. So did its third trailer.
- So does Battle: Los Angeles.
- Battleship's trailer used these upon reveal of the aliens.
- The Russian trailer for The Counselor.
- Cowboys & Aliens's is fairly muted, but it culminates at 2:07.
- The Deep Note is the Ur-ominous sound before nearly every movie. You may know it better as the THX sound effect. Its ominousness comes from the fact that it sounds louder than it actually is, since it's made of a spectrum of frequencies that grow from small to large.
- District 9's second trailer featured pulses of many sizes. They're in-universe, to boot - they're the sounds the ship makes. One shatters every window in Johannesburg.
- The trailer for Europa Report has it (second half).
- The second trailer for Godzilla (2014) has them, during the scene where Godzilla is revealed from within an enormous smoke cloud. By contrast, the first trailer played the same scene without any pulses, instead playing Ligeti's Requiem during then.
- Many also in Immortals.
- Inception is one of the most famous examples, featuring a distinctive sound in the trailers that became memetic. Buttons for it exist.
- Pacific Rim has one in its first trailer, though it's much less loud and more high than most examples.
- The pulse does exist In-Universe as a way to warn any humans in the vicinity to seek shelter because an Jaeger is here to kick Kaiju ass. It's most likely a foghorn, and it's damn badass.
- Prometheus used these, coupled with a strange howl taken from the original trailer for Alien.
- Red Riding Hood goes for the horn.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Sound familiar? The chord does show up in the film once, as spear-wielding apes appear on a roof.
- A trailer for Saw 3D
- It's not just the shark that attacks in Shark Night 3D.
- The trailer for Snowpiercer.
- This trailer for The Thing (2011) has two different ones, a low one for suspense and a loud one for attack.
- Transformers, particularly the trailers for Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon.
- TRON Legacy plays one as Sam first enters the Grid and sees a Recognizer. Its trailer isn't free of them either.
- The trailer for Upstream Color has it.
- X-Men Film Series:
- 12 Years a Slave: Pops up around thirty seconds in.
- The trailer for Disconnect (2012) has it.
- World War Z has a distinctly electric variant in its first trailer.
- This TV spot for Steve Jobs uses the Macintosh start-up chime as its pulse.
- The title song of Kung Fury has a synth bass pulse repeating throughout. Likewise, "True Survivor" begins with a gong-style blaster beam note.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows uses the classic blaster beam pulses in the beginning of its trailer.
- The trailer for Mojave (2015) has this.
- The trailer to Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) has it.
- This trailer for Kong: Skull Island.
- Dingo Pictures movies sporadically throw in blaster beam-sounding chords at the most unexpected moments, such as Mii and Wabuu giggling in The Countryside Bears after Teddy falls from the tree, or Lucy glomping Wabuu in Pocahontas. No, these were not inserted by Phelous during his riffs, they're actually part of the soundtrack.
- The pulses signal the end of the peacefulness in Terra Nova.
- In a 10 O'Clock Live segment on the media's treatment of the Japan earthquake in 2011 showed Sky News doing this with a preview for its upcoming coverage, accidentally underlining their own tastelessness in dramatizing a real disaster in such a way when it was immediately followed by a trailer for Game of Thrones that used exactly the same style.
- Diablo Swing Orchestra's "Justice for Saint Mary" (the final track off Pandora's Piñata). At 5:45 into the song, just after the final chorus, there are two low-pitched trombone notes, signaling to the listener that the song is about to kick it up a notch.
- "Pound the Alarm" by Nicki Minaj uses a blaster beam as the eponymous "alarm" that signals the end of the chorus and starts the beat break.
- Inna's similar song "Be My Lover" uses the same or a similar blaster beam sound during its dance break.
- "Destroid 2: Wasteland", by Excision, Downlink and Space Laces, samples the Inception horn and possibly the Mass Effect Reaper horns.
- ''"Language" by Porter Robinson uses a klaxon and space blaster-style pulse in its bass drop.
- Michael Jackson's "Beat It" used a blaster beam for the intro chimes.
- VNV Nation's "Art of Conflict" is built around an increasingly harsh distorted horn pulse.
- "Rancor" by Radiarc uses the Inception pulse to excess.
- In Halo 2, a blaster beam hit is heard when the Covenant blow up the Malta and Athens space stations. There's also the bass pulse in "Impend" and "Heretic, Hero", and the Arbiter's Invisibility Cloak sound.
- In Halo 4, the orange pulses used to scan the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn create a noticeable rumble, possibly from the ship shaking from the scans.
- Spartan Ops: The recovered Forerunner artifact in Episode 5 gives ominous pulses as the crew approaches to study it.
- Endgame areas of Borderlands 2 use this liberally, especially in areas with volcanic activity or severe industrialization, as well as transitions into and out of combat.
- This trailer for [PROTOTYPE].
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Another chord from Hans Zimmer himself.
- Modern Warfare 2 also had one during the "No Russian" mission.
- Mass Effect 3's trailers had them. The "pulse" is actually in-universe: it's the sound the Reapers generate when charging their massive beam cannons. It also is apparently a pitched-down version of the Inception sound.
- Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta's Death Ray uses a sound similar to the later Inception pulse. Oddly, the laser weapons in Fallout 4 sound like this as well.
- The alarms in Dishonored have this type of sound.
- The "Evening the Odds" trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight.
- Appears in the Turanic Battle music in Homeworld, which plays the first time your fleet enters actual combat.
- The E3 announcement trailer for XCOM 2 also has it.
- The Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration trailer.
- Axiom Verge features pulses in its title theme, also used in the PS4/PSVita announce trailer, and the intro of "Apocalypse".
- Forza Motorsport 6's soundtrack has pulses obviously cribbed from Inception in "Starting Grid", "From Flag to Flag", and "Blow the Lid Off", though no pulses were used in the actual trailers.
- The Debut Trailer of Armored Core: Verdict Day along with the soundtrack "Year of the Verdict War" have pulses incorporated with the music beat.