Why Christopher Nolan is obsessed with Shepard tones.
Subscribe to our channel!
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a nerve-wracking movie. Three separate storylines tell the tale of the famed World War II evacuation in a intense two hours of film. A lot of that feeling has to do with how the film’s score uses Shepard tones — layered sound waves that simulate a constant ascent in tone — to create a sensation of building tension. They’re a personal favorite trick of Nolan’s: he’s based sound effects and entire soundtracks with other composers on the auditory illusion. In Dunkirk, composer Hans Zimmer crafted his soundtrack around the effect — and it’s an auditory masterpiece.
Read Nolan’s interview with Business Insider on the music of Dunkirk:
Shepard tone imagery from EnjoyPA on freesound.org:
Shepard tone sound effect from Alexander on orangefreesounds.com:
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.
Check out our full video catalog:
Follow Vox on Twitter:
Or on Facebook: o