September 25 – “Ah-ow!”

Today’s factismal: The world’s most famous sound is unknown outside of the movie industry.

Ever since there have been things, there have been sounds. And ever since there have been “talkies”, those sounds have been incorporated into the movies that we watch. And the most famous, or at least the most used, sound in movies today is probably the “Wilhelm scream“.

Named for the character who first makes the scream as he is dragged underwater by an alligator in the not-so-classic 1951 film Distant Drums, the sound has been used by directors as varied as George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino. Over the past sixty years, it has appeared in more than 200 movies (including all of the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies), along with innumerable video games and even a few songs! The scream’s popularity has been linked to the way it captures the mood and lets the audience know that the situation isn’t as good as they might hope.

And the Wilhelm scream isn’t the only sound that does that. Every day, all around you there are sounds that make up the soundtrack of your personal movie. If you’d like to capture a few of them and contribute them to a soundtrack for the world, why not join the Sound Around You project? They are using sound samples from across the globe to help understand how our changing society has changed our sounds. To participate, scream at:

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