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Rumblings from the Studio

A Brief History of BRAAAM

February 1, 2018 / John @ Epic Stock Media
It wasn’t until we started talking about making a BRAAAM sound library that I realized I wasn’t exactly certain of what a BRAAAM is and where it came from. Not wanting to appear completely out of touch with my younger (and clearly more hip) business colleagues, I quickly decided to check
Wikipedia. Not surprisingly, no luck. How have we managed for so long without having a definition I wonder?

In an attempt to demonstrate my superior knowledge to my young colleagues, right before our next product meeting I did some research on the history of BRAAAM so I would be fully informed. Turns out it’s a bit complicated and like most things in Hollywood, there’s a story to be had.

Here’s what I turned up:

  • Intuitively, most of us will know what BRAAAM is. I could attempt to vocalize the sound of a BRAAAM for you presently but that would be an awkward moment for us I’m sure. Like all onomatopoeias, BRAAAM is a word whose sound is imitative of the sound or noise itself. So BRAAAM is nothing more than the word that describes the sound, and that sound is BRAAAM.
  • I’ve confirmed that BRAAAM is not an acronym and it does not stand for: Brash Recordings of Always Angry Automotive Mechanics, as I suspected it might. Glad we got that cleared up.
  • I found that that the word these days is most often written in all caps and includes three A’s (not two). From what I can tell, at least we have consensus on the proper spelling of the word too.
  • First internet use perhaps… I did find “BRAAAM” in use to describe the sound of a car engine rev as far back as 1999. What I have failed to find is who is the first person to speak and or write the term in the industry. When and how was this term coined in the industry? This remains a mystery.
  • There are all sorts of references online describing the first time a BRAAAM sound was used in a film score or movie trailer. It’s a point that is not universally accepted. The best evidence for the creative impetus of BRAAAM comes from an article and interview with composer sound designer Mike Zarin. From that article, we find that composers/sound designers Mike Zarin, Zack Hemsey and their team who made the movie trailer for Inception are regarded as the actual parents of BRAAAM as we know it.
  • Most accounts suggest the first example of BRAAAM can be found in the first Transformers movie trailer (2007) which predates Inception by a few years. As trailer scores evolved, basically BRAAAM was popularized and codified as “a thing” with the Inception trailer. From that point BRAAAM became a known and understood tool and formula in the film composers and sound designers box of tricks. That said, the most well accepted birthday of BRAAAM is the trailer for the movie Inception. I hate to say this then… it’s entirely possible that the inception of BRAAAM is Inception. 🙂
  • Since the Inception movie trailer is is the quintessential example for demonstrating the use and auditory definition of BRAAAM, if you want to fully understand BRAAAM, you should take a listen.

  • While Hans Zimmer is on record as not particularly being a fan of BRAAAM, most creatives and consumers still think it’s cool. Clearly today’s makers of sound and music believe BRAAAM to be an exciting, appropriate and useful device in creative audio projects of all types and genres.
  • Finally, BRAAAM is trendy. As a sound effect and musical device, it’s being used more than ever in trailers, films, apps, ads and even home videos.

Beyond its origins and inception (ouch!), BRAAAM has become a style, formula, trend and perhaps even an expectation in movie trailer sound, film scoring and sound design. Recently, when describing a scene to one of our sound designers, I found myself saying, “go ahead and BRAAAM it.” They seem to understand. “In a world, where’ it’s time for lunch” BRAAAM, I gotta go. BRAAAM… Thank you for reading. BRAAAM.

PS Check out Epic Stock Media’s new release: BRAAAM Strike – Sound Effects Library

Here’s a decent list of interesting BRAAAM things. Enjoy!

Rumblings from the Studio at Epic Stock Media
Rumblings from the Studio is a blog about royalty free sound and digital media products. We talk about sound effects, plugins, samples, SFX, video and the technology around creating and using these in media productions. We write about creating royalty free products that change the way you hear and see audio in games, films, TV, performances etc. Take a look around and thanks for reading.

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John @ Epic Stock Media

aka Greybeard - Co-founder, Utility Infielder - really he just does stuff that needs to be done... He also likes long walks on the beach and is a big fan of low frequencies.

A Brief History of BRAAAM

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