I've noticed that deep bwaaah sound from Inception in several movies and trailers.

Apparently others have too--hear a montage of similar sounds (collected by Gregory Porter). I found some info on Wired about Inception's other (crash) sounds, but nothing about the bwaah sound, specifically.

  1. It seems similar to Star Trek The Motion Picture's Blaster Beam instrument. Anyone know how was the Inception sound was made?
  2. Also I think "that Inception sound" works but would "musical stab" be the right term for such a sound/effect?

Edit: I've seen it spelled or referred to as:

  • I've always wondered this to..sounds like a sinister fog horn :)
    – Travis
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 8:57
  • 1
    I think your question is about 'why is it in a lot of films', instead of 'how did they make it'. I also have wondered that. Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 20:12
  • That too, but that's probably a harder question for StackExchange's format. :-) Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 6:52
  • Sounds like a mix of drum + trumpet
    – Huangism
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


In the featurette The Sound of Inception sound designer Richard King talks shortly about recording sounds from an oscillator that are played through subwoofers.

That's when you can hear that bwaah sound, as you call it.



Mix Magazine has an article in which Richard King explains a bit more about using subwoofers and oscillators to create certain sounds for the movie.

  • Wooohhaa very pictorated answer(pictorial+decorated) ;)
    – joey rohan
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 15:47
  • +1 and accepted, the pictures help. :-) I'll add variations to bwaaah to the question to help anyone else wondering the same. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 19:18

There is an article based on an interview with Vulture where Hans Zimmer claims to have done it with brass players playing into a piano standing in a church as a kind of experiment.

However, this kinda pissed off Mike Zarin who details how the development of the sound was a team effort involving many people in this article that shows the evolution of the sound over the various trailers and score pieces, including trailers that Hans Zimmer wasn't involved in.

It doesn't seem like Richard King was involved at any point though and I also can't hear that exact BWAAAH sound in the Featurette Oliver_C posted.

  • 1
    Thanks for the additional information. I added more spellings (BRAAM, BRAMMS, and BRAAMS) referencing the IndieWire articles. I guess there are two parts to the question--how was the sound made and how was it designed (so +1 for the conception of the Inception sound). Mike Zarin explains the idea and collaboration for the sound, but do you think it was still an oscillator + subwoofer? Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 14:24
  • @AlvinReyes As far as I understood it, the final version of the sound was the brass vs. piano one.
    – Christian
    Commented May 16, 2015 at 12:07

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