Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Blat

The Blat is upon us!

I herald the rise of the Blat, a musical figure common in trailers for recent event movies. The Blat is a sonic monolith, a blaring slab of menace, like a foghorn or the braying of an apocalyptic mule. It repeats at dramatically timed intervals, the pauses between which emphasize its vast, singular potency. It often coincides with the staccato slam of a war drum. Sometimes it accompanies a techno beat or the martial rat-a-tat of further war drums, though just as often it bursts forth from silence in monophonic splendor, stealing back into stillness just as abruptly.

My first awareness of the Blat occurred with the trailer for Prometheus. Here it appears simultaneously with a screechy maybe guitar/ maybe vocal line which, if I'm not mistaken, originates with the first Alien film from 1978. Again, assuming I recall correctly, the Blat itself occurs only once in Prometheus itself-- right at the end (apologies for the spoiler), and without the screechy aspect. I believe this circumstance stands unique in all the films mentioned here. I don't think any of the other films themselves contain the Blat in their scores proper, since trailers are usually scored separately and often contain completely different music and sound design elements.

Behold the Blat in the Prometheus trailer, starting about 23 seconds in:

Possibly the most explicit Blat to date occurs in the trailer for World War Z, where it kicks in at about :49:

It infiltrates the Zero Dark Thirty trailer around 1:37.

The Blat sinks your Battleship almost immediately.

It forms a more perfect unison to promote Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

A couple of Blats assemble briefly for the Avengers trailer at about :29.

To boldly blat where... whatever. At least until 26 seconds have elapsed, at which point it sounds like all the other trailers. Star Trek: Into Darkness

And not surprisingly, it heralds the catastrophies of Pacific Rim.

Are you aware of any further Blats? I'm sure there must be plenty more.

UPDATE: I'm told that the Blat is also known as the "Inception sound". I'll have to look into that more, if only to reassure myself that none of my thoughts are in fact original insights!

Mike Hallenbeck home page