From film scores to video game soundtracks, if there’s one sound effect that can keep us on the edge of our seats, it’s the Shepard Tone, an audio illusion that creates the impression of a never-ending rise or fall in pitch.
Hans Zimmer is known to use this effect quite tastefully in his film scores to create tension and a sense of foreboding – particularly in Christopher Nolan’s new film, Dunkirk. The infinite ascension of pitch makes the audience anxiously wait for a resolution that never comes.
The video below provides a very straightforward example of what the Shepard Tone sounds like.
Often times, the most subtle of sound effects can have the strongest impact on the audience, and The Shepard Tone is one great example of this. If you have seen the new Dunkirk film, you know just how effective Zimmer’s use of the Shepard Tone is to the powerful film score.
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