Follow TV Tropes


Heartbeat Soundtrack

Go To

"Can you feel my heartbeat?"
2PM, "Heartbeat"

Thub-thub... thub-thub... thub-thub...

The human heartbeat is an evocative sound, one with literally life-and-death significance, so it comes as no surprise that songwriters and composers frequently co-opt the sound to inject a little gravitas into a song or a scene.

The beep-beep of an electrocardiogram, or a drumbeat intentionally meant to mimic a heartbeat, also count for our purposes.


When a heartbeat is used in a soundtrack, it's common to partially or completely mute every other sound. The heartbeat then serves either as an indicator that a character is near death, or as an audible indicator of shocked silence.

The beat can increase greatly in speed if the characters are in a nervous state. When it becomes very fast and loud, it usually means someone is about to die or suffer a nervous breakdown.

May overlap with Songs in the Key of Panic in games that use it to symbolize low health. When used properly, it can amount to Paranoia Fuel.

Occasionally overlaps with Artistic License – Biology, as it's virtually always a human heart's sound that plays, even if the heart in question belongs to a non-human creature that would have a much faster (small animals) or slower (giant ones) pace. This is likely a result of Most Writers Are Human.



    open/close all folders 

  • In Dragon Ball Z the first seconds of Frieza's theme of death "A Chilling Elegy" gives a slow heartbeat with a bell of death sound.
  • In the first season of Sailor Moon, an ominous heartbeat is heard in the core of the Dark Kingdom (Negaverse in the DiC English dub), with Queen Metallia looming over it.
  • In the Pokémon episode "A Chansey Operation", an unusual heartbeat sound can be heard when Dr. Proctor listens to Pikachu's heartbeat with his stethoscope.
  • There is a heartbeat sound from within Susano-oh's chamber in Blue Seed.
  • In Mahoromatic, a "mechanical heartbeat" is heard when Mahoro feels her chest.
  • In the last two episodes of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, a heartbeat sound can be heard; one being in the elevator to the core of the Dark Gundam (Devil Gundam in Japan), and another in the core itself.
  • In the Halo Legends short Homecoming, when Daisy is running back home, Halo: Combat Evolved's "Under Cover of Night" plays. The unexpected heartbeat-like drums when Daisy suddenly sees her clone is quite appropriate.
  • Right before Zeref kills Zancrow in Fairy Tail.
  • Weaponized by the hero Earphone Jack (real name Jiro) in My Hero Academia. She can put the jacks on her earlobes into an amplifier she wears on her shins to amplify her heartbeat to levels loud enough to paralyze opponents.
  • One-Punch Man: The King Engine creates rhythmic sounds that follow the S-class hero King around, accelerating when he's about to get into a fight and intimidating his opponents into surrendering or whenever King starts to get annoyed at someone mouthing off at him (with the same result), represented by a DOOM-DOOM-DOOM sound effect in the manga and a regular drumbeat in the anime. As King is a reluctant Fake Ultimate Hero with zero fighting skill, the "King Engine" is just the sound of his heart beating faster in a stressful situation, loud enough for other people to hear it.
  • Cells at Work!: Episode 12 features regular accelerating drumbeats due to a massive hemorrhage causing blood to be pumped faster.
  • Episode 12 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has the sound of Kaguya's heartbeat drowning out the sound of the fireworks show the Student Council is watching as she stares at Shirogane in complete awe of everything he did to get her there (thus the title of the segment, "I Can't Hear the Fireworks").

  • Comedian Pablo Francisco employs this to humorous effect in a routine mocking movie trailers.

    Films — Animation 
  • Princess Mononoke has a loud, dull pulse invade the soundtrack when Ashitaka struggles to subdue The Corruption in his arm in the forest after glimpsing the Forest Spirit.
  • Dinosaur begins with the sound of Aladar's heart beating from inside his egg.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Terminator soundtrack had, according to the DVD release, a "robotic heartbeat".
  • The soundtrack to The Monkees' film Head features a loud heartbeat sound in a spooky scene leading up to the “Happy Birthday” sequence.
  • Used in La Jetée at a few points during the experiments.
  • A subtle heartbeat sound can be heard throughout the film Alien whenever the xenomorph is about to appear. Pay particular attention when the crew is eating Chinese food.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, "21st Century Cure" has a constant pulsing sound all the way through. Other songs in Repo! have that motif, including that one scene in "Depraved Heart Murder in Sanitarium Square".
  • John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) uses background music, most notably in the beginning, that is nothing more than an instrumental heartbeat.
  • Sucker Punch features a heart beat during the "Sweet Dreams" introduction.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the scene of Lupin's werewolf transformation features heavy usage of heartbeat-like sound effects.
  • The Shining, during the infamous "Room 237" scene.
  • 28 Days Later, with "In The House, In a Heartbeat"
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Davy Jones's theme in the films is played to the rhythm of a heartbeat.
    • The heartbeat rhythm also shows up in the song "Tia Dalma" on the soundtrack, which is a clue to that character's identity...
  • In Cloud Atlas, the audience finally hears Hae-Joo's heartbeat as Sonmi~451 does as it slows to a stop.
  • The sound of heartbeat accompanies the shots from the killer's point of view in The Prey. When he runs, the beat becomes faster.
  • Sinner's Prayer by Sully Erna, which is the opening theme from the Extended Director's Cut of The Expendables.
  • Accidentally employed in The Perfect Storm. During the funeral scene, a faint thumping sound can be heard while Linda Greenclaw delivers the eulogy. That sound is actually actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's heartbeat, which was picked up by the super-sensitive microphone used to record up her dialogue. When director Wolfgang Peterson reviewed the footage he loved the effect and kept it in the final audio mix for the scene (rather than re-shoot or over-dub Mastrantonio's dialogue).
  • Often accompanying the Murderer P.O.V. in The Burning.
  • In Blackenstein, the soundtrack features a heartbeat as the monster approaches. The heartbeat gets faster as it prepares to attack. At the end of the film as Eddie is ripped apart by dogs the hearts slows down, eventually suopping as he dies.

  • Edgar Allan Poe "The Tell-Tale Heart"...although of course it's only in the mad mind of the narrator.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The opening credits sequence for Are You Afraid of the Dark? features a heartbeat alongside the eerie music.
  • In The Mickey Mouse Club skit called Paperboys in Countdown to Maple Street as the paperboy tries to leave the front yard in slow motion while the sprinklers were active.
  • Seen in the trope image, The Sesame Street song, The Heart of the Frog does so with Kermit the Frog and his doctor (played by Dave Goelz). The doctor remarks that the sound Kermit's heart is music to his ears and breaks into the song:
    Oh, Baby, Baby, Listen to the heart of the frog. Yeah! Baby, Baby, Listen to the heart of the frog.
  • The finale of 24 Season 2 replaces the usual ticking clock at the end of the episode with President Palmer's heartbeat as he is the target of an assassination attempt.
  • The Master's theme in Doctor Who is made up of a repeating "boom-boom-boom-boom" sound, most often in drums. It's the heartbeat of a Time Lord's twin-hearts, and the "sound of drums" in his head.
    • Donna can hear a heartbeat in "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", a presage of the Clone Doctor that is going to be born.
    • The heartbeat sound made by Dalek technology, mildly averted as attention is never drawn to the sound.
    • In "The Last Day", a minisode featuring Gallifreyan soldiers, this is heard, but it's noticeably a standard one-heart heartbeat. So they aren't Time Lords, then.
    • The trailer for Zagreus has a creepy heartbeat in the background while the Ironic Nursery Rhyme is recited.
  • This happens in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop whenever Chi Soo goes into kiss Eun Bi. She asks her friend (Dong Joo), after the first time, if it's common to hear your heartbeat and bells when somebody is about to kiss you.
  • Happens in Kyle XY, when Jesse flashbacks to when she met her next door neighbor in a hotel. She hears a heartbeat as it slows and dies, which happens to be her mom's heartbeat, as her neighbor brutally killed her.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? uses it extensively from around the middle of the game (£32,000 under the old system) onwards to crank up the suspense. In most incarnations, the final question's music is literally nothing but a Heartbeat Soundtrack.
  • "Teardrop" from Mezzanine by Massive Attack was remixed, to play up the heartbeat sound of the drum beat, when it was made the theme to House. There's also an alternate theme when it's shown on Channel Five, apparently because they couldn't afford the music rights, which also has a heartbeat motif.
  • A pulsing heartbeat sound can be heard in the background during encounters with the Prophets in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • The opening theme to Torchwood: Miracle Day has an electrocardiogram beep over it.
  • Lampshaded in the Boy Meets World horror movie-themed episode:
    Thub-thub... thub-thub...
    Angela: Alright, you're the horror film expert, what's that?
    Shawn: That's the sound of our beating hearts. It signifies our heightened fear, and the fact that something horrible is about to walk in that door, right NOW!
    *door opens, revealing Eric and Jack standing there*
  • In the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural, after the ghost squeezes Dean's heart.
  • In an episode of Everybody Hates Chris, Chris goes on a rant and accidentally mouths off his mother. A heartbeat is then heard, with the camera cutting back and forth between Rochelle's expression of anger and Chris' expression of horror with each beat; with the last beat, the scene cuts to Chris lying in a hospital bed, all bruised up with Rochelle's shoe lodged in his ass.
  • In the Eat Bulaga! segment Jackpot En Poy, the sound of a heart beating plays before people decide whether to throw rock, paper, or scissors.
  • In the Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode "Love in Bloom", one of the symptoms of the witch disease "Candy Heart Syndrome" is that the affected witch's heart turns into a giant candy heart that beats loud enough that anyone in the same room can hear it, or "louder than the bass on a Deadhead's boombox!" as Salem puts it. And that's before it starts beating outside her chest, though no less noisy.
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono did this twice. On Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions "Baby's Heartbeat" is a heartbeat monitor recording of their unborn child mixed with John Lennon's own heart palpitations, their baby would soon die in a miscarriage. During "John and Yoko" from Wedding Album John and Yoko say each other's names to a recording of their heart beats: for almost half an hour!
  • Prince did this on "Sex in the Summer," from disc 2 of his triple album Emancipation. The heartbeat was taken from an ultrasound of the unborn child he'd conceived with his then-wife, Mayte Garcia. The tragedy of this is that the child died at six days old, due to a rare skull disease.
  • Orbital's "The Girl with the Sun in Her Head" (from the album In Sides) opens with a heartbeat, distorted into a low rumble.
  • Starflyer 59's "First Heart Attack" ends with a drumbeat imitating a heartbeat; playing over it is a recording of a doctor operating.
  • Metallica's "That Was Just Your Life" from the album Death Magnetic starts with this, then gets heavier.
  • The start and end and various points between of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. When played along to The Wizard of Oz, the heartbeat at the end of the last track syncs up with Dorothy and the Scarecrow listening to the lack of The Tin Man's heartbeat.
  • Huey Lewis and the News has "Heart of Rock 'n' Roll" which ends with a drumbeat that turns into a human heartbeat. And it starts with one too.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Like a Surgeon" uses a heartbeat monitor.
  • The Creature Feature song "Buried Alive" uses a heartbeat during the final repetition of the chorus. Used to expectedly creepy effect when it stops mid-pulse.
  • "Meaning of Life" by Disturbed starts with a rhythmic double bass drum closely in line with a heartbeat that slowly loudens into a think, distorted power chord.
  • Teardrop by Massive Attack from "Mezzanine" has a drumbeat in it reminiscent both of a heartbeat and a ticking clock. It is used as the theme tune to House.
  • The beginning in Jethro Tull's 1973 Concept Album, A Passion Play.
  • "Ron's Piece" a.k.a. "Last Rendez-vous" by Jean-Michel Jarre (1986) has a sampled heartbeat in lieu of a drum machine for the entire more than five minutes. His 1993 album Chronologie starts and ends with presumably synthesized heartbeats which also appear after part 1; they were also used during the countdowns before his concerts from 1993 to 1995.
  • The end of Avenged Sevenfold's "Unbound (The Wild Ride)", continuing into the next track, "Brompton Cocktail".
  • South Korean boy band 2PM's hit single, "Heartbeat".
  • Utada Hikaru's "Hikari" and "Simple and Clean", the Japanese and English versions of the Kingdom Hearts I theme.
  • The Protomen:
    • They have a heartbeat in Act II, which changes to a drumline representing a heartbeat. In "The Fall", it flatlines.
    • "This City Made Us" echoes it in some parts, but with multiple instruments in unison - not all of them percussion, possibly representing a robotic heartbeat.
  • "Ode to Divorce" by Regina Spektor opens with the sound of a heartbeat.
  • "Cry for You" by Korn has a faint heartbeat sound in the background when the singer says "feel it beating".
  • Hilary Duff's song, "Beat of My Heart".
  • Creed's "With Arms Wide Open" begins with a faint heartbeat sound.
  • British pop band Scouting for Girls has a song titled "Heartbeat" which uses an actual heartbeat at the beginning and end of the song. It also uses a heartbeat rhythm throughout the song.
  • David Usher uses this to great effect in "Black Black Heart".
  • Zeromancer's "Dr. Online" has heartbeat-like tones in the background and uses electrocardiogram beeps which flatline at the same point the music stops.
  • Deftones's song, "Pink Maggot" at 6:20 has an atmospheric heartbeat that keeps going on until the end (even being the only sound heard at the very end)
  • Rick Springfield's song "My Depression", ends with three heartbeats before stopping. This is made even more atmospheric by the last line in the final verse with the character questioning if he is "ready for the second half" and a scream before the close of the song, suggesting the heartbeat is the character's final moments of life.
  • The aptly named "Cardiac Arrest" by Madness features a heartbeat at the beginning of the song. It flatlines at the end.
  • "The Endless Enigma (Part One)", the opening track from Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Trilogy album, begins with a heartbeat sound effect in the left channel, and a synth doodle in the right.
  • Florence + the Machine's song, "Cosmic Love", uses a heartbeat sound in one verse, coming in at the "And I heard your heart beating" line.
  • The most famous example of this from classical music is a 15-bar stretch of the third movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, where the movement's theme is reduced to its rhythm played quietly on a kettledrum against an even more faintly sustained chord.
  • Kamelot's "The Human Stain" uses this pulsing sound throughout the song, rather fittingly as mortality is one of its themes, also Love You To Death.
  • Nearly the entire length of Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" has a recording of her heartbeat as its main beat.
  • Emilie Autumn's Opheliac, Subtle but there.
  • Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat" used the pulsing heartbeat sound at various points, particularly at the beginning and the end.
  • The Nine Inch Nails song "Closer" from The Downward Spiral uses this as well as a tapping sound to serve as the main beat. The video also starts out with an actual human heart tied to a chair, drumming out the rhythm.
  • "Broken Arrow" from Buffalo Springfield is an angsty minor-key number typical of Neil Young with a couple of false stops, that finally crossfades into a jaunty, jazzy instrumental, which crossfades into a heartbeat into the fadeout.
  • "Heroin" by Velvet Underground from The Velvet Underground & Nico has a heartbeat-like percussion throughout the song, speeding up until the crescendo, then slowing down to a snail's pace afterwards. It all serves to evoke the feeling of one shooting up on smack.
  • "Beyond Belief" by Epica, a song about death and what might or might not come after, uses a fading heartbeat as a Last Note Nightmare.
  • U.S. DJ Armand Van Helden did a remix of Jimmy Somerville's 'Heartbeat' that basically combines this trope with House Music. The remix made the idea of taking a feel good love song about hearing a lover's heartbeat and made it into something disgustingly literal.
  • New Order's "Guilt is a Useless Emotion" has a low heartbeat thudding throughout. It's most audible at the beginning and the end.
  • Appears in the chorus of "Artificial Heart" by Jonathan Coulton.
  • "Headstrong" by Trapt:
    I said your motive's inside...
    Decisions to hide...
Also, the ending of the song has more heartbeats.
  • Britney Spears uses it in Heart at the end as a finale. This song is written to her heart.
  • Delta Goodrem features this to create artistic tension in "Extraordinary Day". A song about her dealing with her mortality to say the least.
  • The intro of the trance track "Return from Flatline" by Nexus uses this along with an EKG beeping and flatlining, hence the name.
  • During the "sound effect" section of AC/DC's "Jailbreak" the first sound mentioned is "Heartbeats... They were racing". A bass heartbeat then continues under the remainder of the section.
  • Kraftwerk used this for "Elektro Kardiogramm", as part of their Tour De France album. The song's music video for Minimum-Maximum and subsequent live concerts, fittingly, show the song's beat and sound as if reading from an EKG.
  • Swedish band Kent uses it to great effect on "Cowboys."
  • Nelly Furtado opens "Try" with the sonogram of her daughter Mavis.
  • The beginning and end of "This Is Gospel" by Panic! at the Disco.
  • The beginning of "Third Eye" by Tool.
  • "Six feet Under" by Funker Vogt.
  • The album Sucker by Charli XCX begins with the sound of a heartbeat which then transitions into the sound of a heart monitor flatlining. That says a lot about the tone of the album.
  • Muse uses a sample of a fetal heartbeat through an ultrasound on the track "Follow Me" on their album The 2nd Law.
  • J.S. Bach's Cantata 105, Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht, is known for its soprano aria, where the strings evoke a heart beating rapidly from anxiety and fear (the singer's "character" (in this case, is that of a sinner whose "anxious conscience is torn apart by its own torment"), and its ending chorale, where the strings also evoke a fast-beating heart, but one which calms down in the end (the first two lines of the chorale are "Now, I know, You shall quiet in me my conscience which gnaws at me".)
  • Hubert Kah's aptly-titled Sound of My Heart album has a heartbeat in the intro of the first track, "Welcome, Machine Gun".
  • Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" opens with this.
  • The brief quiet interlude in Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring that falls under the long heading "The Kiss of the Earth (The Oldest and Wisest One)" consists primarily of a heartbeat rhythm played on timpani doubled by a contrabassoon and a muted solo bass.
  • Cole Swindell's duet with Dierks Bentley, "Flatliner", uses the heart monitor variant.
  • Iggy Pop "Lust For Life", also with heart monitor, flatlines at the end.
  • The Rain Within's "Android Hearts".

    Theme Parks 
  • In the original attic of Disneyland's The Haunted Mansion, the only sound effects were screams of various ghosts and the loud beating of the bride's heart. Made for a great Mood Whiplash between the madcap ballroom song and the catchy "Grim Grinning Ghosts" number.

  • In lieu of any theme music, Gorgar has a heartbeat that speeds up as the game progresses.
  • In Scared Stiff, a similar sound plays after making a shot in the "Stiff-O-Meter" wizard mode.
  • A variation appears in Gottlieb's James Bond 007, a time-based pinball game. A rhythmic background beat plays throughout the game, speeding up as the player runs out of time.
  • Rescue 911 has the "Life Force" Wizard Mode, available after rescuing fifty lives. The entire game goes silent except for a single heartbeat that gets faster and faster as the player runs out of time to finish the mode.
  • An operator setting in Stellar Wars allows the game to play a "Sweep" sound that beats faster as the player gets closer to spelling STELLAR WARS.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, opening the Dead Man's Chest causes one to play, in time with the beating of the heart inside the chest.
  • Fathom continuously plays a low, rhythmic pulse that speeds up during the game.
  • Krull has a rhythmic thrumming sound that builds in speed as the game progresses.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tazz's WWE entrance theme started with a heartbeat... then went into an electrocardiogram... which then flatlined.

  • Richard Wagner often used Dramatic Timpani this way in his music dramas: e.g., in Die Walküre, at the opening of Act I, Scene III and the opening of Act II, Scene IV; and in Goetterdaemmerung, in Waltraute's monologue and Siegfried's funeral march.
  • City of Angels has heartbeat-like incidental music cues framing Oolie's phone call in the Show Within a Show, just before Stone's final confrontation with Alaura.
  • Samiel's Leitmotif in Der Freischütz combines a dull timpani pulse with sustained dissonance.
  • The Emperor Jones by Eugene O'Neill does the accelerating-with-nervousness version with the Jungle Drums of the angry natives out to kill Jones. The stage directions specify that the drums start "at a rate exactly corresponding to normal pulse beat—72 to the minute" and grow gradually louder and quicker with each scene. The operatic adaptation by Louis Gruenberg painstakingly notates this.
  • In Albert Herring, much of the manhunt for Albert is scored to a very fast and slightly irregular side drum beat that continues prestissimo under recitatives and spoken dialogue to maintain tension.
  • "Stay Alive (Reprise)" from Hamilton which has Philip's heartbeat throughout till the end of the song when Philip dies and in The World Was Wide Enough there's a section of the song after Burr shouts WAIT! followed by a gunshot, the bass thumping in TWWWE resembles Hamilton's heartbeat till the bell tolls indicating his death. The rest of the heartbeat resembles Burr's till the end of the song.

    Video Games 
  • In Hitman (2016), a faint heartbeat can be heard when you are in close proximity to a target.
  • In Chrono Trigger, the inside of Lavos' shell replaces background music with Lavos' heartbeat and breathing, which get louder and faster as the party approaches the core.
  • Mother 3 utilizes this to the player's advantage: When an enemy is put to sleep, a heartbeat track in sync with the current battle music plays very prominently, making it easier to pull off combo attacks. This can be especially helpful for tracks where the beat isn't quite obvious, or ones that have an unusual time signature. The only exceptions to this are the fights against the Masked Man, who apparently lacks a heartbeat (and their song is in twenty-nine sixteenths time). Also used as an indicator that things are getting serious when the Ultimate Chimera is around; the music doesn't change, but you hear Lucas' heartbeat speed up as the beast closes in on him and his party.
  • Meteos — the planet Globin. Well, it is shaped like a red blood cell...
  • Eversion:
    • World X-7 has no soundtrack but a heartbeat.
    • And World X-8 has, among other creepy noises, an accelerating heartbeat.
  • In Dungeons Of Daggorath, the heartbeat represents your health/stamina. As you use your weapon, run or take damage, the heartbeat goes faster and faster, until the screen fades to black. If you are fighting a monster at the time, you die. As you go deeper into the dungeon, your heartbeat increases more slowly.
  • In Risk of Rain the main theme has a heartbeat segment somewhere, although you likely won't hear it without a headset.
  • In Samurai Shodown 1, The first part of Amakusa's stage theme is a really creepy sounding heartbeat. Creatively, arranged soundtracks replaced this with slow, steady taiko drums.
  • Dance Dance Revolution has a song called "Healing Vision" that, near the end of the song, has a heartbeat segment. The song at this point slows from 196 BPM to 49 (and yes, you step on the panels in time with the heartbeats). "Healing Vision -Angelic Mix-" has heartbeat segments at the very beginning and at the very end, and ECG beeping for the rest, with a flatline at the pause and last section of the song.
  • Call of Duty 4: In the last moments of Pvt. Jackson's life after the nuke goes off, all you can hear is the gusting wind and his own heartbeat.
  • GoldenEye: The Facility theme at one point features a sudden drop in volume, leaving nothing but a faint heartbeat, before gradually returning to normal.
  • From Touhou, the track "Fires of Hokkai" (from Undefined Fantastic Object) starts with a heavy drumbeat similar to this, leading up to the final boss.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas play a heartbeat sound in the background when your character's health is extremely low. The "Level Up" four-beat military drum tune sounds like a heartbeat as well.
  • The first two entries in the Mass Effect series plays a heavy heartbeat sound when the player character is low on health, the third game to a lesser extent. Also in the first two games, the background soundtrack playing during the culmination of a potential romance employs an instrumental version of this to increase the drama of the interaction.
  • Oracle of Tao has it in a few significant times. Several of them are romantic scenes, however, there are two major instances where it is used in a non-romantic setting:
    • The first is when the main character, Ambrosia has an existence crisis, and start to fade away. She remembers her friends, and this sound happens right as as she winks back into being.
    • The second is a steadily slowing heartbeat when Ambrosia dies of old age.
  • The track Spooky Scape from Saya no Uta has a heartbeat in the background. It plays throughout most of the song, but it's difficult to notice except towards the end.
  • The Ecco the Dolphin series' generally haunting soundtrack does this from time to time, for example in the themes for Sea of Darkness and (appropriately) Heart of The Foe.
  • The ambient opening movie to Katawa Shoujo features both a heartbeat and the sound of a monitor. As Hisao has heart arrhythmia, it also shows up at various points in the game when he's having problems, usually starting very faint in the background and layered in with the oftentimes happy music, but it generally gets louder and faster.
  • The A Nightmare on Elm Street PC game had this and only this for its soundtrack.
  • This occurs in Kuon whenever an enemy is approaching. The quicker the heartbeat, the closer the danger.
  • A song used in Tomb Raider 2 and 3 (and 1 in the PC version) is mainly composed of a heartbeat along with some other Hell Is That Noise sounds.
  • Asteroids handled it pretty masterfully — the heartbeat's speed increases as you take out asteroids.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VII, the theme of Sephiroth "Those Chosen by the Planet" makes use of a pulsating heartbeat, along with synth vocals. It's also there in his other two themes, "The Birth of a God" and "One-Winged Angel". Although it's drowned out by the other instruments.
    • "The Landing" in Final Fantasy VIII starts by playing a slow heartbeat. In this case it likely signifies the calm before the battle.
    • You can hear a heartbeat pounding as time slows down in Final Fantasy X with Tidus's overdrive Blitz Ace.
  • From Cave Story, "Pulse."
  • The aptly titled Heartbeats from online game Colour My Heart uses this.
  • Earthworm Jim 1 has a heartbeat in the music for its 'Intestinal Distress' level (for the Sega Genesis version).
  • Used extensively in Manhunt.
  • The main theme of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Nerevar Rising. This actually has an in-game justification of sorts: the MacGuffin of the main quest is an actual gigantic heart, belonging to the dead god Lorkhan.
  • Secret of Mana has In the dead of Night which plays during the intro.
  • Trials of Mana's Ghost Ship theme prominently features a heartbeat. The game also has Political Pressure, which is featured in areas like Fiery Gorge, Cave of Darkness, and the Chartmoon Tower.
  • Whenever you get near Champion's Road on the World Crown map of Super Mario 3D World, you will know how challenging the level may be when you hear the heartbeats.
  • Darius Force has this for the final boss theme of Galst Vic
  • The briefing for the final mission of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies has the faint sounds of a heartbeat and machinery in place of the usual soundtrack.
  • Both versions of the hotel in Silent Hill 2, and the Meat Moss-covered alternate hospital patient wing in Silent Hill 3, as heard in the OST track "Heads No. 2." The series as a whole uses heartbeat-like controller vibrations when the hero's health is low.
  • Used as a low-health warning of sorts in Rift, along with desaturated graphics and muffled standard game sounds.
  • The boss theme for Tubba Blubba's Heart in Paper Mario has the sound of a heart beating play just before the song loops.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • Some puzzle segments (often timed) that have to be solved without leaving the area use a minimal soundtrack with a bass played in a heartbeat pattern.
    • The first Metroid Prime has one in Tallon Overworld's second theme.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes uses this in basically all the music on Dark Aether. Heartbeats also appear in the Title Screen and Agon Wastes music.
  • Portal 2 uses two distinct heartbeats with a BGM Override for dramatic effect in the final portal shot of the game.
  • The SNES port of Populous had a heartbeat superimposed on the game's ambient music track. The heartbeat played at about 120 beats per minute as long as the computer player wasn't winning by a large margin over the human player. If it was, the heart rate would increase as the computer came closer and closer to victory and decrease if the human player made a comeback. The heart rate capped at a ridiculous 480 BPM, just before the computer wiped the human player off the map, and stopped completely when the human player lost their last follower.
  • In Pokémon Snap, a heartbeat sound is heard when Mew is separated from its camera-obscuring bubble in the Rainbow Cloud, the final stage of the game.
  • Hey You, Pikachu!. Toward the end of the song "Goodbye Forever Pikachu," soft beats resembling Pikachu's heartbeats play, to heartbreaking effect. This theme is reused in Hey You, Pikachu!'s Spiritual Successor, Pokémon Channel, as the track "Stargazing."
  • In the adult anime PC game Brave Soul, a pulsing heartbeat sound is played during Marin's sex scene.
  • In Custom Robo, a heartbeat sound is used for Rahu's chamber.
  • In Radiant Historia, an ominous heartbeat-like sound is heard just before the villains' secret weapon is used.
  • Rez features this at the very end of Stage 5, once you've cleared the Boss Rush and are on your way to Eden's chamber. Bonus points for tying into the image flashes you see as each phase of Eden is reawakened— which all feature some aspect of life, including a TMI-cam-like view of a capillary with pulsing blood.
  • In FEAR, a heartbeat is heard during the part where you're in an elevator with Alice and you must leave it to turn the power back on again.
  • Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stone had one of Tenma's first new dribble hissatsu called "Aggresive Beat" which involves him clutching his chest as he feels his heartbeat, then using it to get past his opponent.
  • In Madden NFL, you will hear heartbeat sounds when attempting a last-second potential game-winning field goal. Probably used to show how nerve-wracking such situations are for the kicker.
  • Heard in The Journeyman Project if your oxygen runs low in the Mars Maze. In all cases, an EKG flatline sound is heard when Gage dies or otherwise gets Game Over.
  • Some of Halo's soundtrack pieces, like Halo 2's "Destroyer's Invocation" and Halo 3's "Dread Intrusion".
  • Desire has a music track like this, appropriately enough named "Beat".
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
    • During the No-Gear Level Stealth-Based Mission in Eldin Volcano, a heartbeat plays over the soundtrack if you get too close to a Bokoblin. Useful if you can't see where he is and need to get to cover.
    • When you're at low health during a fight with a regular enemy, one of the percussion tracks switches to a heartbeat-like rhythm.
  • In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, the last few seconds of "Alexander's Suicide" are coupled up with Last Note Nightmare, as they are incurred by Alex's heartbeat slowing down to a stop via "Drink Me" potion.
  • The Intellivision game Night Stalker had a constant heartbeat sound in the background.
  • In Jak and Daxter, a heartbeat plays if you swim when there is a Lurker Shark in the water. It get faster the closer the shark gets.
  • In Superman for the Nintendo 64, a heartbeat sound starts playing when Superman's health gets low.
  • In Persona for the Playstation, the track "Awakening" (played when someone calls their Persona for the first time) has a brief period in the beginning with and obvious heartbeat sound. It continues through the remainder of the song in a more subdued form. Sadly, this song, like most of the others, wasn't retained in the Updated Re-release.
  • Abuse uses this as a Critical Annoyance.
  • Resident Evil:
  • In the Ar tonelico series, some of the songs, such as EXEC_SPHILIA/. and both versions of Rustling Throb have heartbeats as part of either the main melody or as background sounds. Even one of the soundtracks' bonus songs, Planet Gene, opens and closes off with the sound of heartbeat.
  • The soundtrack of Mondo Medicals consists entirely of heavy breathing and what appears to be a heartbeat.
  • The aptly-named "A Heartbeat Away" track from Myst III, which plays as you explore J'nanin.
  • Demon's Souls has the tower of Latria, which takes this trope Up to Eleven by having said heartbeat being the only sound you hear the entire time in the second zone. No wonder: the heart in question is approximately the size of a large house, swollen by demonic infestation, suspended in the middle of the place by heavy chains. Appropriately sickening.
  • Vanquish has the Critical Annoyance type.
  • In Max Payne, activating Bullet Time will start with a 'crack' kind of sound effect, then drown out the soundtrack, backing the action with dull, measured heartbeats while it is in effect.
  • The FMV shooter Blood Bath has a pulsing bass soundtrack that gets faster as you take damage.
  • The Rom Hack Banjo-Kazooie: Eraserhead Edition (requested by the Game Grumps as a joke, but then a bunch of people actually made it), has, per the request "No music, but a heartbeat. And, like, a couple arguing in the background".
  • Tomodachi Life uses a heartbeat in romantic senses where a Mii is about to confess their love or during proposals (it speeds up when the Mii is about to pop the question). A heartbeat along with a violin is used in a rare sense when a Mii is ready to propose to his or her sweetheart.
  • Far Cry has this during Shell-Shock Silence moments.
  • Subverted in Dark Souls II: it seems that The Gutter and Black Gulch have this as background music, but closer observations reveal that the beating noise is actually produced by those goddamn poison shooting statues.
  • ''Distorted Evolution'' from Parasite Eve 2 features the heartbeat rhythm.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour's shadow duelist ambush music, "Card as Blade," features drums akin to a sped-up heart rate—which the player will likely be feeling as well if it's a hard duelist.
  • One of the puzzles in Dark Fall: Lost Souls involves selecting several increasingly-arrhythmic Heartbeat Soundtrack sound clips in sequence, to re-create the impression of someone succumbing to heart failure.
  • Undertale:
    • Heard at the very end of a Kill 'Em All run, when the Fallen Child speaks to you directly.
    • Additionally, the song "Heartache" that plays when you fight Toriel has a distinct, heartbeat-like bass.
    • The song "But the Earth Refused to Die" features a heartbeat playing in the background. It's poignant for the scene considering that Undyne is fighting for her life after a blow that should have killed her instantly. Adding her monologue's words about being able to feel everyone's hearts beating as one really drives the theme home.
  • A loud, slow heartbeat is heard alongside the background music in the final level of Epic Mickey, but only in the main area. Appropriate, as the level takes place inside the Blot's body, and it's Mickey's stolen heart that's beating.
  • Plays a major role in Dead by Daylight, where it acts as the survivors' signal that the killer is near them. When the killer starts actively chasing you, the heartbeat melds into a tense musical track that slowly calms down once you break line of sight.
  • Klonoa has "Untamed Heart" which is accompanied by a faint heartbeat through the whole song.
  • Invoked in Descent II's briefing theme, which features a heartbeat-like synth that plays through the entire track if you listen carefully.
  • Tiny Invaders is a Womb Level game where you help the titular aliens infect various humans from their legs up to the brains over the course of fifteen levels per human. What plays in the background changes every five levels as your infection spreads: A steady heartbeat is prominently heard in the first five levels, but is replaced by techno noise and what sounds like a fast motor in the background for the next five. The final five levels (starting, appropriately enough, just after the level whose icon features the heart) have deep and slow ominous, string tones with a quiet, arrhythmic heartbeat-like noise in the background.
  • In Flashback, the Ultra Mind has a heartbeat that increases in speed the more you damage it.
  • A heartbeat sound plays in Little Nightmares whenever Six gets close to a monster, and it becomes faster and louder when she gets spotted and chased.
  • The song "Merure Merure" from LocoRoco has a heartbeat playing in the background during the beginning, which is fitting since the song plays while you're in the innards of the Big Bad.
  • Parodied in Grand Theft Auto V. Go watch Jimmy play the in-universe CoD spoof game Righteous Slaughter 7 in his bedroom when controlling Michael and you'll hear this gem of a line.
    Mission Control: I can hear your heartbeat, stop getting shot!
  • Ray Storm uses this in the pre-Final Boss cue, appropriately titled "Heart Land" on the soundtrack.
  • In Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2, this is one of the many sound effects the player can put in their levels.
  • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 during the Pokemon World Tournament Finals, a heartbeat can be heard at the start of the battle music.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine: A heartbeat plays whenever Bendy is close by, signalling the player to hide.

    Web Animation 
  • Done for a few times in SMG4's Mario Bloopers; these examples are listed below:
    • In part 3 of "Mushroom Wars", the first time Vader uses the power of the dark side on Mario, if you listen closely, you can hear a heartbeat sound.
    • In "Retarded64: Mario Simulator", when Mario contracts Goomba Diabeetus, a heartbeat is heard, although again if you listen closely.
    • This one can be heard even if you're not turning up the volume much. It is heard in "Retarded64: Freddy's spaghettiria" when the finale begins with Freddy and Mario having Swapped Roles.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck uses it a few times:
    • Almost always when Jack Noir flips the fuck out. note 
    • The opening of "Black", the theme from the one year anniversary update.
    • Part three of "Cascade" tapers out onto a heartbeat, then silence, before the fourth and final section begins; this transition corresponds with the Tumor going off in the flash.
  • In Alice and the Nightmare, it's presented via sound effects when Alice wakes up after a nightmare and tries to calm down.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Marsupilami / Raw Toonage episode "Jungle Fever", Marsupilami uses his tail as a stethoscope to listen to his poor sick gorilla friend, Maurice's heartbeat.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Baljeatles", Doofenshmirtz's evil plan involves broadcasting his heartbeat over the Tri-State Area. At the same time, Baljeet is performing a rock song, which suddenly has a cool beat—and which speeds up during the second verse as Agent P fights with Doofenshmirtz.
  • Occasionally, on Dave the Barbarian, Twinkle the Marvel Horse's more nihilistic lines are underscored by a heartbeat sound while the other background music goes mute.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy's Run For Your Ed, after Edd discovers the ship-in-a-bottle is the Kanker sisters', a heartbeat track plays over everything else, getting quicker as Edd slowly closes the door, locks it, turns around, and looks on in shock for a couple seconds before...
  • Occasionally, in Code Lyoko, a heartbeat track will play with the background music as it closes in on an activated tower.
  • In the first generation of My Little Pony, of all places, a heartbeat sound is heard during the first appearance of the series' first villain, Tirek, during his Blofeld moment that replaces the cat with the Rainbow of Darkness, which seems to be what is making the sound.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Who's For Dinner?", Rocko inadvertently reveals to Heffer that he's adopted while having dinner at the Wolfe residence. A heartbeat is then heard, which eventually turns out to be from the heart of the deer carcass the Wolfe family was eating (which is promptly slurped up by Peter).
  • The penultimate episode of Bojack Horseman ends with the sound of a flatline...only for the ECG to start beeping again over the credits.
    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Like a Surgeon's Heartbeat

Weird Al can hear your heartbeat for the very last time.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeartbeatSoundtrack

Media sources:

Main / HeartbeatSoundtrack