You know what I'm talking about- it's in literally Every Single Show now (movie, TV, game, whatever) & it's the new go-to audio cue for "something dangerous is happening". It's a spacey metallic scraping noise that sounds kind of like a giant, pitched-down electric razor or something, usually with a bit of a reverb tail on it, usually lasting for between 2-4 seconds.

I've been driving myself insane trying to find it, or at least find a reference to it online, but nobody seems to know what I'm talking about even though it's Everywhere these days. You can hear it most often in thrillers & horror-type movies, but like I said, it's like the new go-to audio cue for ratcheting up tension so you even hear it on children's cartoons now. PLEASE- does ANYBODY out there know what I'm talking about, & if so, do you know what it is or how to make it?

There are many different versions of it out there (brighter, darker, etc), but all essentially similar, so I'm assuming it's not an individual sample that's being re-used, but one that is created new each time using the same process/technique- but I could be wrong.

  • You seem to be generalising about something very specific - if its used so much, could you point to a few specific examples eg its in Movie X @ab.cd time and Movie Z @gh.ij?
    – user49
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 20:11

5 Answers 5


Bowed metal and Waterphones are very a-typical of the sound you are describing. Go and demo some of the many great Cinematic trailer SFX libraries from people Like Time Prebble (Hiss and Roar), Frank Bry (The Recordist), Boob Library and the like. You will find that man of them sell amazing libraries with cinematic stingers for reasonable prices. Some of those helped me figure out how to create my own. Almost as important is that they helped me look good to me clients! :-)


Bowed glass?

I recommend you keep watching TV and watching movies and note down when you hear it and telling us so we can hear it and give further advice.

My money is on bowed glass effects, though. That seems to be the cliche trailer sting (along with that anvil hit).


Scraping cymbals with another object, pitch up or down. Wash rinse repeat.


Dollhouse, Season 1, episode 7, 44:35... this sound has been eating at me ever since I made the connection. Infer from this what you will, but I believe certain sound combinations are used to trigger memories, senses, and emotions. Much in the same way color cominations and symbolism are used in entertainment, advertising, etc. Other seemingly overused sounds like the one that sounds like a cross between a buzz saw and a low scratchy violin note with lots of reverb, and that really slow bass drop used in slow motion parts of action sequences. Have you ever felt that drop with the speakers up.. it actually feels like its tugging at you. I guess there are desired effects to be had from all of these sounds and their timing, really .


This is very close to what I think you are asking about...


There are 10 other related SFX on SoundSnap if you search for "eerie scrape"

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