An Aural History of the Inception Horn

As countless viewers have noted, there is a familiar sound ringing through the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer: the Inception horn.  That “Braaaaaaam” has become more famous than the movie that birthed it; it is the Super-Loud Movie Noise of Our Time. But technically, the Inception horn is not just one horn — it is the work of five instruments who came together to play one note at top volume in the name of history. Vulture asked French horn, Bassoon, Trombone, Tuba, and Timpani to tell the story in their own words.

French horn: I have been around a long time. Like, since the Renaissance. So, I am tough to impress.

Bassoon: Don’t ask French horn about the Renaissance. Ugh.

Trombone: I’m an easygoing guy, you know? Bands, orchestras, classical, jazz, marching bands, whatever, I am down for anything that is fun. So when [Inception composer] Hans Zimmer assembled us, it was no big deal.

French horn: I’m not actually from France.

Bassoon: Up to that point, we had been playing a lot of real dirge-y stuff. Batman, Frost/Nixon — pays the bills, but that’s no one’s favorite.

Tuba: I enjoyed Frost/Nixon.

Bassoon: Anyway, there we all were, and at first it’s like, what is this shit?

French horn: It was just “doot doot doooooot,” who even cares? And we all have to play at the same time? I don’t like sharing.

Bassoon: If I wanted to share, I’d be a flute, you know?

Tuba: People usually get out of my way.

Trombone: There aren’t a lot of trombone solos out there, other than in gameshow work. I am used to bringing everyone together. This was a real treat for me.

Timpani: Yeah, the horns seemed a little worked up about having to play all at once, but Trombone stepped up and got them to agree.

French horn: I will admit, Trombone is a good-looking guy.

Trombone: French horn? Oh, I don’t know, we always wind up sitting near each other, but I wouldn’t make too much of it.

French horn: I’m not saying I did, but I’m saying I would.

Bassoon: Trombone sort of rallied the troops, but even then I was still sort of skeptical. I was like, I left Peter and the Wolf for this?

Timpani: On the day of the performance, everything was going wrong. It was really humid, everyone was grumpy, there was no Nescafé, it was not that long after Michael Jackson died, everyone was just in a funk.

French horn: Hans Zimmer rolls up with his four Grammys and his Oscar and is all “Just trust me, horns.” We didn’t want to.

Tuba: But then we all started playing.

Trombone: And it was like, blam! Magic!

Bassoon: I knew immediately that we were on to something.

Trombone: It was incredible.

French horn: It was like the first time I saw the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which I saw shortly after its completion, because the Reniassance.

Trombone: And then it just exploded. We’re all in the trailer, people are yelling “Braaaaam!” in the streets, everyone is pressing that button all the time.

French horn: I mean I can’t go out to dinner without someone approaching the table and asking me to do the noise. “Are you French horn? Are you from France? How was the Renaissance? Tell me about Inception! Do the sound! Do the sound!”

Bassoon: This was sort of around the time that Vuvuzelas were picking up. I gotta say, that scared me for a minute, until I realized that no cheapo piece of shit plastic junk can make an Inception sound. There’s no vuvuzela button. [Ed note: There is, actually.]

Trombone: Pretty soon the horn is in every trailer, and we’re all fighting over royalties. Everyone’s like “I saw that Prometheus trailer. Where’s my check?” Where is my check, by the way?

French horn: I do not wish to discuss the legal battle surrounding Inception horn at this time.

Bassoon: On advice of counsel, I can’t talk about that. But I will say, that was a tough time. I saw the trailer for Planet of the Apes, and it was like, the feeling of being robbed. Just having someone reach right up and take things from me.

Tuba: The new Star Trek trailer made me cry. How are they allowed to just take what is ours?

Bassoon: Then came the whole “it’s just that other song slowed down.”

French horn: Some people thought it was just a slowed track. It’s not. It’s us. We’re playing. I mean, come on.

Trombone: I went through a real dark phase where I was just Googling it constantly, reading people say “it’s just a slowed-down track, how cool!” It stung, man. It really stung.

Timpani: That didn’t really bother me. I just have my sound, you know? When I play, does thunder get jealous? No. You gotta be you.

French horn: That is easy for Timpani to say, he is a primitive instrument. Cavemen had drums. Rock musicians have drums.

Trombone: But look, at the end of the day, we made history. You can’t take that away from us. Every time someone says “Braaaaaaam” — that’s us. We were there.

Tuba: You know what, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I hear people make that noise on the street sometimes, and it’s a reminder that I’m part of something really important.

French horn: Is Trombone single? Did he mention anything one way or the other with that?

An Aural History of the Inception Horn