Sounds play a crucial role in setting the scene, creating tension and suspense – that’s why horror sound effects are a must have in every composer’s arsenal. Even if you don’t create music for games, films, and audio books, you may want to add some of these sounds to your tracks and carry over that same feeling of unsettlement. These are the 5 must have sound effects to enhance a sense of terror.
Jump Scare Horror Sound Effects
No jump scare would be as effective without its accompanying sounds! These are the building blocks of horror movies and game audio, designed to suddenly frighten the participant. Jump scares must be unsettling in nature and often use layers of sounds, coupled with a heavy bass or sub element. To really scare you across the frequency range! Horror composers will often use acoustic sound sources like violins, screeching metal, sharp and atonal one shots.
In the words of Super Hans from Peep Show, ‘The longer the note, the more dread’. Unlike jump scares, drones are not designed to instantly scare you, but rather build tension over time. Seemingly innocent settings like a child in a swing or someone walking in the park can appear menacing when coupled with the right drone. In fact, drones can often play the part in intensifying the jump scare, as they have primed the viewer or listener for the perfect moment of impact.
Noise and Glitch
Interference, malfunctioning electronics, and other glitch noises usually indicate we are in the presence of evil. These sounds are essential in ‘Found Footage’ horror films. Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and others rely on noises and glitches to create tension, feelings of uncertainty and despair.
Vocal horror sound effects are often used to create a ghostly presence or more intense sounds of zombies and monsters. The options here are endless, from faint, distant singing, creepy choirs to screeching, screaming and roaring. Although technically not a horror show, the soundtrack to ‘Squid Game’ is a great example of using vocals to build tension and unsettlement. Your vocal processing is key to enhance these sounds. Reverse reverbs, distortion, bit crushing, detuning and other effects can be used to complement your horror vocals.
No film or game would be complete without Foley sounds, and these are key in horror music production too. Creaking doors, wind howling, scurrying or slow footsteps all add to the soundscape and set the scene for the perfect horror. Foley sounds are often added in post-production, as it gives producers better control over the noises at the scene and an opportunity to enhance them. You will find that the most surprising elements make up Foley, however, when coupled with the right visuals, your brain will actually believe that the sound of a watermelon being stabbed is fitting with a real stabbing scene.
Looking to build up your library of horror sound effects?
Glitchedtones is offering a great range of Foley sounds, jump scares, drones, atmospheres and more to really set the scene for your next horror project. Shop them all here.