How do you make your trailer music stand out from the rest? By creating unique signature sounds that's how.
In this post, I am going to dive into signature sounds; what they are, how to create them, and why you should be spending more time making your own.
What are Signature Sounds in trailer music?
Put simply, these sounds act as a unique identifier for your track.
A signature sound is kind of like the musical fingerprint that makes your track different to everyone else's.
It catches the listener's attention and makes them pay attention to your music, shouting, "HEY, LISTEN TO MY AWESOME MUSIC!"
Signature sounds in Trailer music are slightly different to having a signature sound as an artist because they can be different from track to track.
You do not have to make them all sound the same. Which is awesome and means that you can work to make each sound completely unique to that track.
Why are signature sounds so important?
Now you know that signature sounds are unique sound prints for your music, you know that they work to make your music stand out.
The same is then true for the trailer. If your sound can make your music stand out then it will probably make the trailer stand out too.
The sound will grab people's attention.
What makes a signature sound?
The short answer is, literally anything.
It could be a glissando synth sliding down an octave, it could be a recording of a subway train, it could be a sound from a violin, it could even be an animal noise (all the tracks on this album used animal noises).
What do you do when you can make a signature sound from anything? That's way too much scope and choice.
The way to find your sound is to use limitations.
For example, in my tracks for the album Throat 6, the limitation was to only use animal noises for the signature sounds.
By giving yourself limitations and rules you will make the creative process flow a lot more smoothly and easily.
Does it have to be one sound?
This is one of the really interesting things about signature sounds, they do not have to be a single sound.
You can have a "signature sound" within an album; the way you produce the tracks means that the album has its own signature sound.
This can then even extend to having your own signature sound as an artist.
Take my series of albums called, Throat, for example. The way I wrote, recorded and produced them all has created a sound that is quite recognisable. So much so that other composers will message me asking, "hey, is that your track on the [insert film title] trailer?"
And 99 times out of 100 it is my track. I created a signature sound for those albums.
An that all started with one single cello signature sound that went down well with an editor. It went down so well that the publisher then asked me to write an album of tracks based on that single cello sound.
Link: When you can't find your signature sound
How to make a signature sound
Finding your own signature sound or even crafting your own signature sounds can be a really daunting thing.
I asked Espen, one of my Trailer Music School graduates and an all round legend, to record a video of him creating a signature sound for my site.
The reason I asked Espen is that the track that opened all the doors for him had an AMAZING signature sound. Since then he has gone on to land loads of placements.
Tips on creating unique signature sounds
- Record sounds around you.
There is a plethora of amazing noises that you can cature and mangle. Doing this will guarantee you have a sound no one else does.
- Don't worry about it being perfect.
Perfection is a trap. Have fun and aim for something that excites you.
- Play with all your FX plugins.
We have all these toys at our disposal and because they are part of our work we forget that we can have fun and just 'play around'
- Try to make the sound sound "human" or "real" even if it is a synth.
This means give the sound some movement either in pitch, modulation, or dynamics, or even all three.
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