Everyone likes watching trailers. It gets us excited for the upcoming release, but we also love finding gems in the trailer music world. For many years now, we’ve come to expect the same composition style, drum-patterns, and ostinato sections that pretty much standardize what you hear in every trailer. If however, you pay attention to how the trailer is put together you can learn a lot about mood and build, as well as identify what instruments were used, and when they were used. Doing regular case-studies of trailers and soundtracks can really help your composition process.

Look at these nine trailers, identify a few key points:

  • What do you like about the track?
  • What do you dislike and why?
  • What instruments were used and when were they used?
  • What style of percussion was used and how was it used?
  • Was there breathing room or moments of anticipation?
  • What emotion did you experience while watching?
  • What emotion did you experience after watching?
  • What do all nine of these trailer tracks have in common?

Batman

Release Date: March 4, 2022
Trailer Music: Duct tape and epic sounds invite us into the madness as Nirvana takes over to catch the disturbing challenges of this reboot for Batman.
Synopsis: THE BATMAN is long in the making with stops and starts that trace back to 2014. Finally, with a new Batman (not Ben Affleck as originally planned) and post-COVID, we’ll get to see some new detection skills in the classic criminal backdrop of Gotham and a contemporary reprisal of the Riddler as enemy number one.

STOWAWAY

Release Date: April 22, 2021
Trailer Music: The drumbeat gets stronger as the plot lines increase with a few powerful loops at the end to build suspence and the idea of lostness in outer space.
Synopsis: This Netflex offering doesn’t appear to take too many risks in the story-telling. The crisis is a loss of life-giving services – oxygen and such – and the choice about who survives comes next. All the while the crew is trying to land the story on Mars. Perhaps there are a few surprises in the tension, but I imagine the stowaway saves the day.

WITHOUT REMORSE

Release Date: April 30, 2021
Trailer Music: This sounds like a Tom Clancy film, which is a compliment. You get right into the action and the challenges of espionage with the submarine type beeps and hums to the build-up of the beat.
Synopsis: Tom Clancy still owns this genre, though he’s been dead for years. This story is taken from the novel he released in 1993, though I imagine the time and setting (heck, maybe even the main plot) have received an update. No matter, it’ll be a good ride even if it’s without the Ryans. If you’re a fan of Clancy, you’ll share the hope that we learn about John Clark like in the novel.

AMUNDSEN THE GREATEST EXPEDITION

Release Date: April 2, 2021
Listen Up: The music feels expansive like a classic discovery and death-defying adventure.
Synopsis: This true story of the first expedition to the North Pole made by Roald Amundsen and 15 other men in 1926. That alone sounds like a fascinating film, but Roald’s life is layered by being on the first expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1903-1906, reaching Antarctica on a separate voyage in 1911, and also mysteriously disappearing without a trace in 1928. All in all, Roald’s life has a ton of stories to work into a movie.

DUNE

Release Date: October 1, 2021
Trailer Music: Think big epic in another world with all the mystery and excitement of war and the making of heroes.
Synopsis: Remember reading Dune or seeing the original film in 1987? If it were one over the other, it would be the book and not the movie? Why? The 1984 version which took years and years and tries and tries to put together became a total flop. It’s essentially the same movie with better effects. Heck, there’s even a side-by-side comparison. Let’s hope this film does a whole lot better. We know the music will be better, with Zimmer at the baton, versus Toto and Brian Eno on the original (as if it were a rock opera).

FAST AND FURIOUS 9

Release Date: June 25, 2021
Trailer Music: If the soundscape sounds updated but familiar, you’ll be right. Taylor is behind the other films in the franchise and his resume is loaded down with so many other great action films.
Synopsis: The story reveals some new story twists and mysterious scenes that don’t seem to chronologically make sense, but we’re in a different world of speed and impossibilities that are so well pulled off with movie magic that you might be OK to sit back and enjoy number 9 in this series (while you wonder why you didn’t come up with the combination of speed, crime, cars, and everything alpha-male in between).

THE TUNNEL

Release Date: April 9, 2021
Trailer Music: It starts with several long hums and a big crash followed by an epic musical effort that asks us to feel the tension.
Synopsis: There are a ton of tunnels in Norway. I guess I never knew that, but you don’t want to be in this particular one. It’s filled with smoke and other dangers. If you needed more sympathy for those who find themselves in the film’s predicament, these are people on their way home for Christmas! You feel the hero story in the music, as the plot follows one firefighter who takes on the situation, especially after he finds out his daughter is in the tunnel.

VANQUISH

Release Date: April 16, 2021
Trailer Music: It sounds like a classic suspense story with the beat paired with a melodic repetitive lyric below it.
Synopsis: Morgan Freeman is a retired cop and not a good guy. He takes the daughter is a Russian as his hostage, then there are drugs, guns, and motorcycles become part of this thickly thin plot. The premise of the tale is about the mom trying to get her daughter back, but a bunch of violence has to happen on screen before that takes place.

MORTAL KOMBAT

Release Date: April 16, 2021
Trailer Music: You feel discovery and anguish, fight and drive and a lot of angst as the sounds roars past you, even with a touch of Mission-Impossible-like at the end.
Synopsis: In 1992, Midway Games released Mortal Kombat. As you know, many media projects followed. This new film has Cole Young finding his true lineage as some big-whig protector of earth and acceptance into the fold of such privileges because he has a dragon birthmark. The bad guys don’t want Cole around, so a fight ensues… but it’s not just any battle. It’s the battle for the universe, so pretty high-stakes stuff.