Saturday, November 9, 2013

BRAAAM 101


Three years after Mind Heist appeared in a trailer for the movie Inception, people still seem to be thoroughly confused with respect to "who created the BRAAAM".  A slew of forums and various online publications regularly seem to discuss and debate this issue.  So let's take a moment and clear this up.

BRAAAMs have been around long before Mind Heist and Inception, and they will be around long after.  What is a BRAAAM?  It's when a note (usually a low note) is performed by a large number of instruments very intensely.  Technically, you could call it a fortissimo in unison.  Non-technically, it's popularly referred to as a BRAAAM.

What differentiates one BRAAAM from another BRAAAM has to do with the nature of its construction and the context in which it occurs.  The BRAAAMs in Mind Heist and the other incarnations that have occurred in symphonic / film / trailer / electronic music are each comprised of various ensembles.  Some of the elements that make up the ensemble may be commonly used (e.g. brass), while other elements may be more unique (e.g. unicorn howling).  It's how these elements get blended together that gives each BRAAAM an identity.  Kind of like snowflakes.

But the most important distinguishing factor is context.  If Mind Heist were comprised of just the BRAAAM by itself, it would have been musical sound design rather than music.  But alas, Mind Heist is a song that has BRAAAMs, rather than a song of  BRAAAMs.  And if the song itself was not compelling, the BRAAAMs would not have mattered.  This is to say, the song's composition and production (melody, harmony, rhythm, orchestration, mixing, mastering) is what makes it compelling - the BRAAAMs were simply one feature, albeit a prominent one.  Kind of like when someone meets a wonderful woman, but only talks about her boobs.  Sure, Mind Heist has big boobs, but she's also got an amazing personality.  Hey, eyes up here.

Interestingly, the "breasts of Mind Heist" (I smell a remix) were made more prominent within the Inception trailer, partly as a result of trailer producers / editors / mixers that skillfully paired the visual and audio components, and partly due to the general 2 minute length of the theatrical trailer format.  While much library music conforms to that length, most songs exceed it.  This means that most of the songs that get used in trailers (including Mind Heist) get edited down by necessity, and thus, the Mind Heist used in Inception's trailer is actually an abridged version of a larger work (see Mind Heist: Evolution).

Now as for another commonly held misunderstanding regarding Mind Heist … I've never met, spoken to, corresponded, snorkeled, canoed, parachuted, finger-painted, or otherwise collaborated with the composer or director of the film Inception.

So what have we learned today?  That a BRAAAM is a musical device, used since time immemorial.  This musical device was utilized within Mind Heist and the Inception trailers / film, and although largely popularized as a result, was not invented therein.  There is no "creator" of BRAAAM.  There are only users of BRAAAM.  And some even say we are all made of BRAAAM and one with BRAAAM.  Deep.

Class dismissed!

bum, bum, bum, bum, ba da bum, bum, bum….BRAAAM