The Wilhelm Scream may be the most famous sound in history. I've never used it in a project, but I DO have a sound that I try to work into everything. It's my personal Wilhelm Scream. It's a mono recording called 'Suburban Neighborhood' that has birds, dog barks, and light traffic and wind ambience. Nothing special, but it's fun to work in somehow (often layered with other sounds) into nearly every project I work on.

And I know other sound designers use some sound or sounds often, mostly as an inside joke. So, my question is ... what's your Wilhelm Scream?

C'mon, 'fess up ...


4 Answers 4


The eerie whine of a BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit, subway system in the San Francisco Bay Area). Good god, that gets processed ten ways 'til Sunday and I can put it in almost anything.

  • I've been on that train! I know exactly what sound you're talking about.
    – Utopia
    May 14, 2010 at 22:57
  • Those trains sound quite epic, I've recorded a set of them myself. Fantastic! Jul 24, 2011 at 9:08

"Breakwater Cannon" is my Wilhelm, I guess. It's a recording I captured of my dad's black powder cannon shooting off a round. Of course, a cannon shot is not appropriate for every movie, but anytime there are guns or explosions I always try to work it in.

  • You can also use it as a cool Boomer or shock effect :)
    – Utopia
    May 14, 2010 at 16:44

I used to do lots of battle scenes for games, and there was a sound clip of my co-sound-designer yelling "my leg! my leg!" that we found funny, so we'd put it into every battle sequence we built. the "my leg my leg" guy has shown up in quite a few productions, though he hasn't been heard from in several years.

I think there are probably other sounds that I really like that come back to again and again, certain screams and such.

I have used the Wilhelm, the Goofy Holler and the red-tailed hawk in theater sound designs when the director has had the mindset to make a pop culture joke. I had one director tell me before she even hired me that the Goofy Holler must be in the design someplace!

  • What's the Goofy Holler?
    – Utopia
    May 14, 2010 at 17:18
  • It's a stock sound that gets used in a bunch of Disney films. Originally recorded for a short in 1941 called "the art of skiing," it's kind of a "yaaaaaaa-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooey!" sound. Just like Wilhelm, you can find a bunch of compilations of Goofy Hollers on YouTube. May 14, 2010 at 17:31
  • youtube.com/watch?v=S_7AzUnAujw May 14, 2010 at 17:34
  • Aw, man, it's following me around now! I just got offered a theatre sound design gig and there's a call for the Goofy Holler right in the script! Aug 17, 2010 at 19:02

I have a mouth pop sound I did with my finger that I've used on every show (not every episode) in the last 2 years.

It's a really rather useful sound that can be both comical and practical. I just have a thing for it now.

There's loads of stuff I've recorded or created that I'd love to use in more than the project they were done for but the need has never sadly arisen.

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