The Shepard tone - Summer Isle Films

Blog

Blog

The Shepard tone

The Shepard tone

 

If you haven’t seen Dunkirk yet, find the loudest cinema screening you can. The sound design is exceptional, coupled with the intense score by Hans Zimmer.

Check out this in depth look at how Zimmer uses an auditory illusion caused by Shepard tones.

Named after cognitive scientist Roger Shepard, the sound consists of several tones separated by an octave layered on top of each other. As the lowest bass tone starts to fade in, the higher treble tone fades out. When the bass completely fades in and the treble completely fades out, the sequence loops back again. Because you can always hear at least two tones rising in pitch at the same time, your brain gets tricked into thinking that the sound is constantly ascending in pitch.

 
   
 
Back to top