Film Music 101: Foley

In the world of film music, Foley refers to the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added in post-production to enhance the audio quality of a film. And by everyday sound effects, I mean things as simple as the “swishing” sound that clothing makes, the sound of shoes “tapping” on the floor, the sound of glass “breaking” and so on.

Foley artists may be required to record sound effects if the props and set of a film do not react in the same way as their real-life counterparts might (for example, a prop sword made of rubber is not going to sound like the real thing, so a Foley artist would have to dub in the sound of a metal sword).


A Foley Artist at work

A Foley artist might also be brought in to cover up unwanted sounds captured on a movie set, like the sound of an airplane or passing traffic. If the Foley artist has done their job correctly, the addition of these sound effects should be completely unnoticeable.

The history of what is known as “Foley” dates back to radio programs of the 1920s, when sound effects had to be created live and often on the spot.


The man second from the right is a “sound effects man” That black board he’s holding helped make the sound of a ringing telephone or simulate the sound of a door closing.

As recording technology became more advanced, the Foley effects evolved as well. How interesting! Now you know what they mean when the credits refer to “Foley.”

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20 thoughts on “Film Music 101: Foley

  1. Paragraph Film Reviews

    I’m OBSESSED with Foley Work – and really wish there was a definitive documentary or even TV show about it. The closest I’ve seen is Berbarian Sound Studio – which is terrible.

    The idea of using completely unrelated objects to mimic the sounds of something else is amazing. I also like how you can appreciate a good foley sountrack and mix at home with 5.1 systems. Hearing natural and background noises from all corners makes a film so much more immersive,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. filmmusiccentral Post author

      wow, I would’ve thought there was some kind of documentary done on Foley work-that’s something that should definitely be fixed (just like there’s still a severe lack of books on the lives of film composers)


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