This may be a little out of the ordinary, but bear with me.

Fans of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy were treated with something special on Sunday at the MTV music awards. The first sneak peak of the film, being adapted from the book by Lionsgate, disappointed some, and elated others. But the most interesting thing I noticed occurred in the last 10 seconds of the clip, when all of the “credits” were being shown on screen. Watch the trailer and tell me if you can spot (or, rather, hear it)

If you guessed the four note whistle at the end, then you are right. Before I tell you why it is so intriguing let me give you a little background.

It is believed that the four tones correspond to something that became somewhat important in the books. Katniss finds an unlikely ally in The Hunger Games, who provides her with this tune. Her ally, who works in an agricultural district, use to whistle it from the tops of trees to let everyone know when the work day was over, it would eventually be passed along by all the workers, so everyone knew that they could be done for the day. During the book, Katniss and her ally put in work a plan (that, I might add, is not a plan to win friends and influence people). If the plan goes through safely, they are supposed to whistle this tune, which will then be whistled by all of the birds (which are genetically modified and have a knack for this). Soon it will fill the forest, and Katniss will know that her ally is alright.

But why is this so intriguing to me? Start of by listening again and thinking about what you hear? How can it be best described? Haunting? Probably so.

What makes it sound like this? The answer is the first two notes. They make up a minor third, the bottom two notes of a minor chord, frequently found in movies with haunted houses (along with a few additions). When that chord (which is technically a Gm2 chord in the 3rd position)  is arpeggiated (broken up) in that way, it definitely is haunting.

But why am I concerned with this? Because this is NOT what I was expecting. Think about it. Assuming this is indeed the four note whistle from the book, then this should not be so hautning.  Finishing work is a happy occasion, learning that your friend is alive is a happy occasions. So why the haunting chord?

I believe it is a forshadow of what is to come. But what exactly is that?

I believe The Hunger Games film will be dark. Not in a bad way necessarily, but definitely dark. The darkness is the same that Katniss feels inside of her throughout the whole book. It’s the darkness of a totalistic government that has no regard for human life. I can see the style of the movie being very similar to that of an M. Night Shyamalan film, particularly The Village. Not the suspense angle at all, but the style will be much the same.

This may not be much to go one, but heck, it’s adds a lot more to what the trailer gave us.

Do you have any thoughts? Did you like the trailer, or were you disappointed? What do you think of what I said about the whistle? Let me know in a comment below!
3/25/12 Update: Just saw the film. Eh. Guess I was a little bit wrong about what the whistle was, not so much about what it stood for. Full review later (maybe).

Categories: Other


  • Jason

    I thought the pair whistled it if they are in trouble, so they know to come to eachother’s aid? Which is why when Katniss heard it after blowing up the food supply, she came running towards Rue. 

    • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

      I don’t believe so. I don’t think that you would have time to whistle if you were in trouble. Whistling is almost impossible when out of breath.
      I will have to check.

      • Charlotte

        The whistle was used to make sure the other was safe. That is why Peeta and Katniss used the whistle when they were hunting.

        • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

          You are correct in that. But the original use was still to let everyone know the work day is over (in Rue’s district, I checked on that, page 209 of The Hunger Games). The choice of notes still seems bizarre to me.

  • April

    I think its a lot of guessing that this is rue’s whistle…. Of course the movie is going to be dark…. It’s a dark story! I think we need to see more however before we go jumping to conclusions.

    • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

      Perhaps not. But it seems rather likely. The internet community seems to have taken it as fact at this point.

  • emms

    I thought it was a good tune. When Rue sings it, maybe it might sound different from her! Who knows? We just need to wait till March 23rd! :)

    • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

      Excited!

  • RobLuna

    I hope the movie is more haunting than lovey dovey… I mean kids are killing each other in order to live the rest of their lives out. Nothing happy go lucky about it. Please, don’t let this movie be like a “Twilight” love story movie.

    • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

      Same. However the haunting nature of this particular piece confused me a  little bit.

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  • Trianna

    I think this has to be Rue’s four note tune. But I think it is sung by a mockingjay. Katniss describes the mockingjays to be sometimes eerie. And Rue sings the four note tune, not whistle. But we’ll see when the movie comes out C:

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  • Kidlitfan

    I think that the whistle sounds a LOT like the title phrase in “A Time for Us,” the song from the the Franco Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet.

    The hauntingness may come because the way it descends works well for the way it overlaps and becomes another song.

  • Justin

    I think the haunting sound is because I don’t think  it relates to specific things. You said, that finishing work is a happy occasion, ans yes it is. for us. Think for them in district 11 agriculture is their life they must love doing it and think what they have to return too, being slaves of the capital. Then, knowing your ally is alive and well is happy. Again, for us. but is anyone really that alive and well in the games? Alive and well would be living in district 1 or the capital and not be in the games. Also, the hunger games is a little haunting, right?

  • Elmo

    i thought it was for rues death

    • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

      Kind of. But Rue made it up for the specific purpose of informing people that the day’s work was over. She passed it on to Katniss.

  • Danelle R

    I like the way you broke down the notes in relation to one another.  But did you also notice that the notes are from a famous song from the 60′s, A Time For Us?  Music by Nino Rota, song made famous by Andy Williams.  I don’t know if it was intentional or unintentional.  But then again, “star-crossed lovers,” and a time for all the people in the fictional world to have peace and love.  Yep, this trilogy is going to be all about revolution.  Link to A Time For Us from Romeo and Juliet (1968).  
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FHpmn-KYec&feature=related

    • http://soundcalledmusic.com Patrick Wells

      No I did not. I am definitely NOT a 60s kid…

    • MC

      Exactly what I thought about A Time For Us, so much that I looked up Mockingjay- A Time for Us and found these comments – glad I am not the only one to think that!

  • Joshua M

    It is the first 4 notes of the Westminster chimes that sound on the hour, with the major turned minor.

    This makes perfect sense with the whole “end of day” thing, and the minor transformation is a stroke of brilliance as oppressed, musical people tend to favor minor keys. In solfedge it’s La, Do, Ti, Mi. (La being the “home note” for minor keys) Westminster is Do, Mi, Re, So (Do being the “home note” for major keys)
    Yes, I learned music in shaped notes. (Go Amish-Mennonites!!)

    • jwest

      EXACTLY what I thought upon hearing it.

  • Sydboocy

    it doesnt sound haunting when rue sings it for the record (i saw it :-p)

  • Eric Lin

    when rue sings it, she sings the last noce (the c) one octave higher than when katniss sings it.
    and i agree with you, i expected something more “major”, or happy!

  • Brad Burgess

    Interestingly, this four note tune is very similar to the first four notes of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor, a very grim sounding theme that pervades his piece. Also, they are the four notes of a doorbell chime (as in in the intro of Paul McCartney’s “Someone’s Knocking At the Door,” except that the second note is a major instead of a minor tone. That one half step make the doorbell chime cheery whereas the mockingjay call is haunting.

  • Rex2clone

    I think the tune sounds happy