angelic sound effects cover image

How To Use Angelic Sound Effects To Evoke the Supernatural

By Ezra Sandzer-Bell

Angelic sound effects are fairly common in film and games, but oddly enough, they’re rarely heard during scenes involving actual angels. Ethereal harps and vocals are more commonly heard in ordinary humans situations. When characters feel refreshed or illuminated by a power greater than themselves, these are the sounds that run.

For this article, we’ll be sharing a collection of angelic sounds from famous films, tv shows, and games. They’re closer to sound design and film scoring than foley. You’ll notice that some of the examples are quiet, or low in the mix. They don’t need to draw attention to themselves. We’re not dealing with knocking sounds, gunshots and explosions.

Below you can listen to a handpicked selection of royalty free angel sound effects from the Audio Design Desk collection. These wav files are available for download at no cost. If you like what you hear but need a bigger collection, sign up for a free copy of ADD and get access the full library.

angelic sound effects album cover

Angelic Sound Effects

Supernatural, Sound Design

Released 05/20/2024 · 20 Tracks ·

#Track NameGenreKeywordsDuration
1Ethereal Music 2Sound Design,SupernaturalMusic...
2Ethereal Music 1Sound Design,SupernaturalMusic...
3Ethereal Transition 2Sound Design,SupernaturalTransitions...
4Ethereal Transition 1Sound Design,SupernaturalTransitions...
5Ethereal Transition 3Sound Design,SupernaturalTransitions...
6Ethereal Transition 4Sound Design,SupernaturalTransitions...
7Ethereal Transition 5Sound Design,SupernaturalTransitions...
8Choral Drone 3Sound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
9Ethereal High Drone 3Sound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
10Low Ethereal DroneSound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
11Ethereal High Drone 1Sound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
12Choral Drone 1Sound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
13Ethereal High Drone 2Sound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
14Choral Drone 2Sound Design,SupernaturalDrones...
15Ethereal Swell 2Sound Design,SupernaturalSwells...
16Ethereal Swell 3Sound Design,SupernaturalSwells...
17Ethereal Swell 1Sound Design,SupernaturalSwells...
18Choir Chords 2Sound Design,SupernaturalChords...
19Choir Chords 3Sound Design,SupernaturalChords...
20Choir Chords 1Sound Design,SupernaturalChords...

1. Lord of the Rings, Gladiator: Cinematic angels singing

Almost every adventure and fantasy film has a climactic scene where angelic sound effects can be heard. Yet those sound effects rarely belong to the voice of actual angel characters from the movie. Instead, they enter as a layer of the soundtrack or as part of the sonic ambience during a cinematic transition.

This scene below from The Hobbit depicts the arrival of Bilbo at a Rivendell. It’s an iconic moment in the film where the character experiences a sense of breathtaking awe at the landscape’s natural beauty. Notice how the single angelic tone and the augmented arpeggio in the orchestra create a sense of mystery together:

A more nuanced melody can be heard in Gladiator (2000). Drenched in reverb, the vocals portray a kind of transcendental state. Nature sounds like birds and a long, drawn out whoosh sound rustle the leaves as Maximus leaves his body for a moment. He makes a final statement before dropping dead. The angelic vocal track over the film’s score hints at the afterlife.

Similar monophonic vocal melodies can be heard during the Battle of Helm in Lord of the Rings. As massive armies rush toward each other, the choral sound of angels singing offers a place of refuge for the audience. The music alone conveys a spiritual refuge from the violence on screen.

2. The Simpsons, Monty Python: Angelic choirs for satire

We’re all familiar with the opening credits to the Simpsons. As the clouds in heaven part, the angelic choir sings a heavenly major chord. The show’s title appears and the camera swoops down to Springfield where everyone’s crazy antics are out on display.

Composer Danny Elfman’s use of the “ahh” choir sound effect was pure satire. The angelic voice only makes sense up in the clouds. Other classic films have used the same technique in jest, like this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when God speaks to King Arthur:

Here once again we see the parting clouds and “Hallelujah” style major chord. Functionally, the Monty Python scene treats this as a music sound effect whereas the Simpsons used the chord with a vocal melody to create the show’s theme.

3. The Simpsons, Zelda: Angelic harp sound effects

So far we’ve only focused on angelic vocals, but harps are another common instrument used in heavenly music. Sound effects involving a harp are distinct from soundtracks and compositions that include a harp in them.

The most common use of angelic harps are for a feeling of being transported. In the scene below, Marge Simpson is literally brought to the pearly gates of Heaven. There are no angels in sight, so this is a non-diegetic layer of sound design.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that several film and video game soundtracks have used harp to create a mystical reverie. The most famous example of our generation is probably the Fairy Fountain theme from The Legend of Zelda, that has been reused through almost every installment of the series.

The intro to Zelda’s Fairy Fountain theme is internationally popular and has achieved meme status on social media, finding its way into countless videos on TikTok and Instagram.

4. SpongeBob, Daemon’s Souls: Angelic wind chimes

If harps represent the divine will of the angels, wind chimes represent something even subtler. Maybe it’s related to the age old connection between wind and spirit. When the spirit moves, the angels speak through these delicate, dangling pieces.

Wind chimes are used in film to represent a mystical force or transition, much like the strumming of a harp. In fact, you will often hear the two played simultaneously. Takes this example from Spongebob Squarepants (1999) where they mark the passage into a new world:

Similar sound fx have been used to signal healing effects. Take this example from the sci fi video game Demon’s Souls (2020). Each spell is called a miracle and synth chime sfx are used to indicate the presence of angelic magic.

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Ethereal and choral elements are great source material for magic spells, and magic spells also make fantastic fantasy transition sound effects! Here’s a detailed guide on how to create these elements, layer them for complexity, and apply various audio effects to enhance them.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Selecting Source Material

  • Ethereal and Choral Sounds:
    • Use recordings of ethereal vocals, choirs, or synthesized choral pads. Look for sounds that have a mystical and airy quality.
  • Additional Elements:
    • Gather recordings of whooshes, chimes, scrapes, and synth effects. These will serve as the layers to build complexity and interest.

2. Layering for Complexity

  • Combining Elements:
    • Import your ethereal and choral sounds into your DAW.
    • Layer whooshes to add motion and transition effects. Chimes can provide sparkle and enchantment, while scrapes add texture and tension.
    • Use synths to fill in the harmonic content and add depth. Choose patches with evolving timbres and lush textures.
  • Balancing Layers:
    • Balance the volume levels of each layer to ensure they complement each other without one dominating the mix.
    • Pan elements across the stereo field to create a wide and immersive soundstage.

3. Granular Stretching and Delay

  • Granular Stretching:
    • Plugin Recommendations: Granulator II (Ableton Live), iZotope Iris, or Output Portal.
    • Load the choral and ethereal elements into a granular plugin.
    • Adjust the grain size and density to elongate the sounds. This can create evolving textures and extend the duration of the elements.
  • Delay:
    • Plugin Recommendations: Soundtoys EchoBoy, MeldaProduction MSpectralDelay.
    • Apply a delay effect to create repeating echoes. Adjust the feedback and delay time to synchronize with the rhythm and pacing of the spellcasting.
    • Use modulation on the delay to add movement and variation.

4. Applying Reverb

  • Reverb:
    • Plugin Recommendations: Valhalla Shimmer, Polyverse Music Comet, or Lexicon 224.
    • Apply a large, ambient reverb to create a sense of space and depth. Choose reverb settings that enhance the mystical quality of the sounds.
    • Adjust the wet/dry mix to ensure the reverb doesn’t wash out the clarity of the original sounds while still providing a lingering, ethereal effect.

5. Adding Movement with Tremolo

  • Tremolo:
    • Plugin Recommendations: Soundtoys Tremolator, Logic Pro’s Tremolo, or Ableton Auto Pan.
    • Apply a tremolo effect to introduce movement. Adjust the rate and depth to create rhythmic pulsations or gentle modulations. In most tremolo plugins if you set phase parameter to 0°, it will function as a simple volume controller, if phase is set to 180° is will function as a pan controller and move the sound side-to-side.
    • Sync the tremolo rate to the tempo of the piece for a cohesive and dynamic effect.

6. Final Enhancements and Automation

  • Automation:
    • Automate volume, panning, and effect parameters to create dynamic changes throughout the spellcasting sequence.
    • Use automation to emphasize key moments, such as the start and end of the spell or transition.
  • EQ and Compression:
    • Apply EQ to each layer to carve out space in the frequency spectrum, ensuring clarity and separation.
    • Use compression to control dynamics and glue the layers together for a cohesive sound.

By following these steps, you can create rich and immersive magic spell sound effects that are perfect for fantasy transitions. The combination of ethereal and choral elements, layered with whooshes, chimes, scrapes, and synths, along with granular stretching, delay, reverb, and tremolo, results in a complex and captivating audio experience.

Access over 70k royalty-free sounds with Audio Design Desk 2.0

As you understand by now, these sounds all share a common uplifting quality, even when used satirically. Download more free music from Audio Design Desk using the embedded player at the top of this article, or by signing up at our website. Browse our tutorials and pull sounds from audio templates with over 70,000+ sounds and music.