6 Easy Steps to Creating an Action-Trailer Soundtrack

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Creating an action-trailer soundtrack may seem a little daunting, but with our quick 6 step tutorial, you’ll be well-versed and ready to make your own! Need more scoring tips? Make sure to read our massive feature on writing Music for Picture

action-trailer soundtrack

1. Most trailers have to get across the story in a couple of minutes. This usually starts by setting up the plot very quickly over a more atmospheric musical interlude that might use a few elements of the more exciting part that inevitably comes in later. Here, we’re using Blade Runner 2049 as an example, which starts with atmospheric pads.

action-trailer soundtrack

2. Any action elements early on are dealt with with big percussive slams which again will be reintroduced at quite a pace when the trailer reaches its exciting peak. In this case, there’s an early interlude before the trailer starts its dramatic build. Usually we get the logos of the production companies at this point, as we slowly begin our dynamic journey.

action-trailer soundtrack

3. This is an out-and-out electronic trailer and the ‘on trend’ electronic musical motif is most definitely the arpeggiator (thanks to Stranger Things). We’ve replaced the one in the trailer with our own software version, complete with chord changes over eight bars, and programmed the actual notes for flexibility in the edit.

action-trailer soundtrack

4. This is very much the second act of the trailer, setting up more of the plot and there is a lot more dialogue which must shine through – your music shouldn’t clash. As such, we’re keeping the arpeggiator going and only altering its sound with the frequency and resonance dial on the original Oddity synth.

action-trailer soundtrack

5.  In any action trailer, you can guarantee that the third act will have all of the excitement. In this case, as soon as Harrison Ford says: “They know you’re here” and the music drops away, you know it’s time for the real sonic action to start to match the onscreen spectacle. Explosions, quick-fire cutting and pulse-pounding music are dead certs in this section of the trailer.

action-trailer soundtrack

6. Every action trailer uses big blasts of snare-like machine-gun percussion to match the quick edits on screen. We’ve matched three different snares together for a rhythmic pulse that takes a lot from the original score. It builds and builds towards the trailer conclusion of a sudden drop away of audio with the release date shown on screen. Tickets will now be excitedly booked!

Looking to create a suspenseful trailer? Check out our tutorial


About Author

Andy Jones

Andy Jones has an MA in Music Technology and has been writing about it for 25 years. He has launched and edited several magazines on the subject and was editor of MusicTech for the last four years. Naturally, he has far too many synthesisers...

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