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THX Just Shared the Original Sheet Music for its 'Deep Note' for the First Time

Look at this lad.
Look at this lad.
Image: THX, Ltd.

The Deep Note, the distinctive synthesized crescendo that is THX’s audio trademark, is one of the most iconic sounds in all of film. For the effects firm’s 35th anniversary, they’ve now shared the sheet music behind the sound.

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The hand-written notes, created by Dr. James A. Moorer, add to a story we already knew: that Moorer created the iconic Deep Note while working at Lucasfilm’s Computer Division in 1982. The sound would debut at the premiere of Return of the Jedi in LA in 1983, and the sound became a major trademark of THX. It was then remastered and re-recorded in 2015, creating the version that plays today, which is also written by Dr. Moorer.

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My education is not in music, so I won’t pretend I can add some deep commentary, except to say that I can’t think about the note without thinking about The Simpsons’s parody of it. Or this Tiny Toons parody of it.

What a note, though. Right? Absolute unit of a note.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

Constant Colors

Looks like a G unison (sorta, really just a bunch of noise within that octave that amounts to something that would sound a bit like a D depending on what the 30 random tones are) which resolves to what looks like a D major chord but it’s probably easier to think about it as stacked octaves of D and A with an F# on top. Though it’s most characteristically a D since D fills the upper and lower ends of the majority of the chord and the Ds in the bass are doubled.

That’s probably why he called two chords The Deep Note. They’re chords, but their most prominent characteristic is their D-ness. It’s The (D)eep Note.