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Glass-Shattering Sound
Sound is a vibration, which can be transmitted to a physical object, such as glass. If the pitch of the sound matches the natural vibration frequency of the object, and if the volume of the sound is loud enough, then the resulting vibration can cause the object to break. In the case of glass (usually wine crystals), the notes that cause resonance vibration are rather high-pitched.

As a result, shattering glass has become a fictional shorthand for indicating that a sound (often someone singing) is particularly loud or high-pitched. Or to indicate that they're a terrible singer (an acoustic analogue to Mirror-Cracking Ugly). (While it's possible to crack glass with the human voice, it's not as easy as just screaming; rather, you have to match the note that the glass makes when struck and create destructive resonance by holding the note long enough. So unless you have perfect pitch and excellent lung power—and don't mind something made of glass exploding in your faceDo Not Try This at Home.)

Usually coupled with Make Me Wanna Shout and sometimes with Dramatic Shattering. Related to Gale-Force Sound, which affects things other than glass. Frequently happens at the performances of a Dreadful Musician or an operatic Brawn Hilda.


Examples:

Advertising
  • One of Memorex's "Is it real or Memorex?" TV commercials, where Ella Fitzgerald breaks a wine glass by singing a high note... and then replaying the recording of Ella singing also causes glass to shatter.
  • One Bud Light commercial has two dudes going to an opera with bottles of the beer. Cue one Brawn Hilda soprano aria...all of the bottles pop. Another dude turns around and shows the other two that they should have brought cans.
  • One commercial for Diet Mountain Dew ends with a lady topping her two eagle-tattoo sporting co-workers by letting out a piercing eagle-esque scream and shattering all the glass walls. Then she lets out a smaller eep to destroy the glass vase sitting on the table.
  • In the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman episode, "Murder Music," has a scheme of kidnapping a rock band, forcing them to perform special music and then have a special ship with giant speakers that emits that music superloud that can shatter whole buildings and drive people insane.

Comic Books

Fan Fic

Film
  • Parodied in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The fat lady tries to sing high enough to break a glass; when she fails, she just shatters it against her frame:
    Fat Lady: It's amazing! And just with my voice!
  • In Victor/Victoria, Julie Andrews' character does this with some frequency. By dint of Rule of Funny, it's also capable of stunning people and popping champagne corks.
  • In Splash, Madison saying her real name in her native language causes all the TV screens on a department store to shatter.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Roger's glass-breaking "steam whistle" after drinking strong liquor.
  • In Shrek the Third Prince Charming shatters the audience members' wine glasses, opera glasses and even pearl necklaces with his girly high-pitched singing during his play.
  • Last Action Hero has this in Movie Land when the Lieutenant screaming for Jack Slater causing his windows to break.
  • Sean Cassidy, aka Banshee in X-Men: First Class. Charles points out all the science to Sean.
  • Tintin: The villain hires Bianca Castafiore in order to shatter the bulletproof glass holding a model ship he was planning on stealing.
  • Invoked and parodied in The Absent-Minded Professor: The opening scene features Professor Brainard attempting to demonstrate this with a trumpet and a glass placed on the table. His playing fails to crack the glass but manages to shatter every other glass object in the room, including beakers full of chemicals that fill the room with smoke as the opening credits roll.
  • They Call Me Bruce (1982). A kung fu master tries to instruct Bruce how to make a Kiai shout. When Bruce tries it, a nearby glass cabinet shatters.
    Master: Was that you?!
    Bruce: No, Memorex!

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody has a scene where Ms. Martin tries to give London singing lessons. They start with the simple "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do", but once London reaches the last Do, the note shatters a glass on the table in front of them.
  • iCarly: There's a video where a girl sings a note so high it shatters one of her mom's really good glasses.
  • MythBusters tested this one (explicitly referencing the Memorex commercial with Ella Fitzgerald above) and managed to replicate it. Jamie wasn't able to hold the right note long enough to break the wine crystal (he made the mistake of singing an octave too low), but Adam was, and the metal singer they brought in to give vocal lessons was able to break it without even using any amplification. The show did highlight how difficult the latter feat was, however; even the metal singer (Jaime Vendera) required 20 attempts to break even one glass sans amplification.
  • In The Goodies episode "The Stolen Musicians", Cilla Black's voice can not only shatter glass, it can bring down an entire building.
  • One time on Get Smart Da Chief went undercover as a singing waiter and used his ability to shatter glass with a high D to break a mook bad guy's glasses, distracting them enough to shoot the bad guy.
    • Another time, a Brawn Hilda opera singer is recruited to hit a high note to shatter an unbreakable glass cell holding a captive scientist - when her note breaks all the glass in the vicinity except the booth, she squares her shoulders and just walks right through it.
  • In one of the episodes of the Batman series, Batman and Robin get trapped in a glass dome. They break free by making a glass-shattering voice of F sharp above high C.
  • The Amanda Show has this when Amanda demonstrates the audience if she can break a wine glass with her voice. All the glass around the studio breaks, but not the wine glass until she just purposely breaks it herself.
  • An episode of Bonanza revolved around a man with a glass-shattering voice. The Cartwrights had to protect him after he broke every glass in Virginia City and the enraged beer drinkers came looking for revenge.
  • Is presented by Jonathan Creek as a solution to part of the mystery in The Judas Tree
  • CSI NY did this in "Not What It Looks Like". A bunch of women dressed as Holly Golightly used a frequency on an iPod to shatter glass counters in a jewelry store so they could make off with the jewels.
  • Played with by real-life opera star Renee Fleming on an episode of "The Late Show with David Letterman" where she delivered "The Top Ten Opera Lyrics," giving a demonstration that "As a pro, my voice can shatter stuff." She cheats and smashes the glass on the floor instead, saying, "Close enough!"

Music
  • In the Diablo Swing Orchestra's song "Balrog Boogie", there's a sound effect of breaking glass as singer Annlouice Loegdlund hits the high notes in the second verse.

Pinball
  • In Monster Bash, when the Bride of Frankenstein practices her singing, she causes the display to shatter. However, it's unclear if this is due to her appearance or her voice, as neither one is extreme enough to invoke either trope.

Puppet Shows
  • There was a Spitting Image sketch in which Margaret Thatcher's voice was so high it could shatter the glass in people's spectacles, until she was coached to speak more deeply. (The sketch ended with her sounding like Adolf Hitler.)
  • In one episode of The Muppet Show, special guest Ethel Merman shows Miss Piggy and Kermit what note you need to hit to shatter a glass.
    Kermit: Did you also double as an air-raid siren during The War?
    • A series of newspaper comics had Piggy trying to do it herself. Her first attempt cracked the table.
  • Exaggerated in an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch, where Mariah Carey's ultrasonic voice shattered the arena's lights, made nearby dogs suffer and caused Jim Carrey's head to explode.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons starting from AD&D2 have 'Shatter' spell that breaks fragile objects through sound.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • xkcd strip 812 averts this trope. The glass is intact, but the water turned into blood. Apparently Physics was upset they were looking for the Higgs Boson and decided to fuck with them.

Western Animation
  • In one episode of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, Katie and Sadie's singing is so bad that it cracks Lemon Meringue's mirror, which wasn't even in the same house.
  • In one episode of DuckTales, someone brings in a bird whose calls shatter all glass within a very large radius of itself. This becomes a problem for Scrooge when the glass cases he keeps his non-money valuables in shatter too.
  • On The Simpsons when Bart's class visited the Springfield PD, Bart lined up about 20 megaphones, turned them all on, and said "Testing" into the first one. This shattered glass for miles around.
    • Parodied in another episode where Lisa hitting a high note seems to cause a glass to shatter, only to reveal Homer has shot the glass with a BB gun.
  • In one episode of Futurama, Zapp Brannigan's terrible karaoke shatters the "In case of emergency, break glass" glass in front of the button for the escape pods, which was about to be broken anyway by the fleeing "audience."
  • In an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, an opera singer named Alicia Botti sees a mouse in one of the coaches and her scream shatters windows around the dockyard.
  • In the VeggieTales episode "Princess and the Pop Star," Princess' high notes cause one of the band member's glasses to shatter on multiple occasions.
  • In one Making Fiends episode, Vendetta's kazoo-playing shatters a mirror.
  • One Monster High webisode has Operetta breaking Ghoulia's glasses as well as the glass on the school's windows with a sneeze. Cleo's screaming has also broken windows multiple times.
  • In the The Fairly Oddparents episode "Chip Off the Old Chip", a Running Gag involves Timmy's terrible voice winds up breaking some glass, while Chip Skylark's voice makes the glass magically unbreak. When Timmy and Chip wind up switching voices, Timmy now has the ability to fix the glass Chip broke with Timmy's awful voice.
  • In The Smurfs, Harmony's playing the triangle at a pitch that makes Brainy's glasses crack in "Smurphony In 'C'", and Denisa's scream that makes the vials in Gargamel's hovel shatter in "Denisa's Greedy Doll".
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Nuthin' Special" has Buttercup trying to find out what her special power is, only to be matched and one-upped by Blossom and Bubbles. One of them is their "sonic scream," which shatters every glass window in the downtown area. The crowd gathered around seemed to be more interested in this sibling contest than in the collateral damage to the city.
  • The Gravity Falls episode "Double Dipper" has a parody of this, when Pacifica sings a high note and shatters a plastic cup.
  • Kim Possible uses this to break a glass (or maybe ice) dome Drakken trapped her with.

Gale-Force SoundSound FX TropesHair Trigger Sound Effect
A Glass in the HandBreaking And Destruction TropesGrievous Bottley Harm
Careful With That AxeMusic TropesHarsh Vocals
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!JustForFun/Tropes Examined by the Myth BustersJammed Seatbelts

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