How to write Trailer MusicHello Composers, Mike here! =)
Ah, so you want to make Trailer Music? Music that is hard-hitting, punchy, and in your face. Music that beams with power, energy and tension that makes you want to know what comes next. Epic music!

Let’s listen to a couple of live examples of music compositions in this style! =)

Mikael Baggström – The Hammer of the Gods

My vision for this track was based on my favorite mythical weapon of all time, Mjölnir, the mighty hammer of Thor. I focused a lot of the percussion on big metal hits, anvils etc. as well as hard hitting impacts with a metallic tail in the sound.

The track is written in C minor, but uses a lot of major chords for the heroic, grand vibe. Lots of attention was given to the main accents with layering to the max for that super focused and powerful rhythm.

David Olofson – Interstellar War Trailer

David’s description: If Interstellar Station is the queue for a scene in a movie named “Interstellar War,” this is the full length trailer score for that movie. Ambient, space, danger, tension…

The core of the percussion is good ol’ NI Action Strikes, spiced up with some whooshes and impacts from Heavyocity Gravity, a riser from NI Rise&Hit, and some cymbals from NI Symphony Percussion. There is a fair bit of processing on most parts; in particular dynamic EQ, transient shaping, and saturation on the Action Strikes percussion.

David Michael Tardy – Death before Dishonor

David’s description: My intention for the track, is just as the title a states. the mentality of a soldier, who would rather die honorably in battle than with dishonor. Its pretty much the typical stuff you hear in epic trailer music these days ie. braams, synth pulses, heavy impacts, alarms, breakouts, risers, downers, strings, brass, choirs, percussion.

Mike Whi – Aiviai

Mike’s description: To start I layered out a sketch of booms and hits. I used empty midi and audio blocks to fill spaces and label where I planned to use certain sounds.

For example, I had a track for pulsing synth and I drew empty blocks where I wanted the parts to come in. I also used the arranger track in my Daw, to section out 3 acts.

I gave each act two parts, the second part building a little upon the last. I had to mess with sampling a lot to figure out how to turn a single bass note sample in to a four chord bass line. I just had to load it into a sampler and then automated the midi to mach the chord track (in Studio One). Then later I searched for the sounds I wanted.

This track was more of a challenge than I thought it would be. There is so much fine tuning that can, and still should be done. I started out by envisioning a future where half of humanity is fighting against being made obsolete by machines. I imagined a revolution starting with a youth who befriends a machine.

Mike’s Guidelines for Trailer Music

  1. Percussion and Rhythm is King
  2. Go all in on Big Hits
  3. Boost the Main Accents
  4. Layer like a Champion
  5. Use Lots of Tension Builders and Risers
  6. Write in Acts, with clear section dividers (drops)
  7. Make sure your Final Chorus is over the top!

Now take Action!

I always recommend you to take action, to learn from doing, experimenting, and creating. So go ahead and compose a new track in the style of “Trailer Music”. =)