Music for Courage
No more living in fearA group of people are going through a horrible time and they are about to let go of all hope and give in to panic or worse: They could be so deprived that they're losing their humanity. But then someone starts to sing or play an instrument, a song that rises above the sounds of suffering and fear. And everyone raises their heads to listen, momentarily forgetting their suffering, remembering that there's more to life than this, that all hope is not lost, and that they're not animals. This can save the people from falling past the Despair Event Horizon and sometimes even the Moral Event Horizon in cases where the populace has started to turn primal, which may even put the musician's life in danger while he or she performs. The musician is the hero of this trope and is very much admired by his or her unfortunate public. The song played will usually be the Crowning Music of Awesome, or appropriate in some other manner. The moment will usually be a prime contender for the musician's Crowning Moment of Awesome. It's not uncommon for it to be or be accompanied by a Tear Jerker. Compare the Theme Music Power-Up, where a song greatly increases the power level of a specific person or group, or Survival Mantra, which this is arguably a version of. This is pretty much what the Glamorous Wartime Singer exists for.
Its time to Raise a King
We made it happen!
We're the Chosen Ones!
Its time to Raise a King
We made it happen!
We're the Chosen Ones!
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Anime & Manga
- Amuri in Star Ocean makes this trope a key plot point. Amuri sings "Umidorika" to encourage herself in Episode 1, and then proceeds to demolish a whole squadron of killer robots. In Episode 2 Suzu sings it for the same reason with similar results, and in Episode 3 Perrier continues the trend.
- Lacus sings for the children she takes care of during the Break The World catastrophe early in Gundam SEED Destiny.
- At the end of the first season of Gunslinger Girl, Henrietta is depressed because her handler hasn't come to watch the meteor shower with them. Triela picks her up in her arms and leads the girls in a rousing chorus of "Ode to Joy" sung in German.
- This is a major plot point in Macross 7. When people have their Spiritia drained, they become apathetic and unresponsive. The fix: listening to music from Nekki Basara. Later on, the Big Bad intends to use this effect to literally farm Spiritia to prevent the end of the universe. To Basara, this is only a secondary effect to having people to LISTEN TO HIS SONG.
Sheryl: [paraphrased] "Ranka... if you're the singer who brings us happiness, then I will be the one who sings when we're in despair!"
- This very scene provides both the turning point, as well as the greatest Tear Jerker in Macross Frontier: the Vajra have infiltrated and overrun the civilian "islands" of the Frontier fleet, and the populace, wounded and scared and huddled in shelters, can only cry out for Ranka to assist them. But Ranka is in the midst of a horrible crisis, and the SMS squadron is pinned in the ducts as they try to get to their Valkyries. Among the despair and tragedy, Sheryl stands, even though nobody even recognizes her as the "Galactic Fairy" anymore, and she breaks into the song "Diamond Crevasse." The refugees slowly realize she's singing to them, and their panic subsides to be replaced by peaceful, if mournful, hope. It is from this moment on that Sheryl's music, which used to be high-energy, consumer-friendly rock, assumes a heartfelt indie style, bereft of the bombastic effects or budget of her previous productions. For their part, the people of Frontier embrace her deeper and tighter than ever before.
- In the first movie, Sheryl begins singing in the middle of a Vajra attack to give the people hope. It's broadcast to the entire fleet. Ranka joins for the final verse and things kick into high gear as Alto, Ozma, and Brerea fight to protect the girls.
- Honestly, the entire Macross meta-series exemplifies this trope to the nth degree- specific examples abound throughout.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, this trope is how Lucia and the 5 other princesses give 7th princess Sara a reason to sing with them so they can defeat Gakto/Gaito. done again in the Pure season towards Villan Mikeru by singing to give him hope.(with the song Kibou no Kaneoto - love goes on).
- One Piece has Brook inspire a village of satanists, who have been attacked by members of another tribe. Playing a Badass tune on his violin, they rally to fight off their invaders.
- In Senki Zesshō Symphogear, the heroine's best friends suggests singing the school's anthem both for getting across their support to the heroine and to rally the desperate school mates.
- Sound Of The Skies opens with an Amazing Freaking Grace performance by a stranger rallying a lost little girl, who grows up to become an unlikely heroine.
- This is a major plot point in 20th Century Boys, where the protagonist, Kenji, plays his song, which inspires many people of the now Crapsack World to rise up and rebel against the Big Bad, Friend.
- In Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden, a mix of this and Theme Music Power-Up turns out to be the schtick of Urumiya Hagas when he officially joins the Genbu Senshi. His vocal powers serves mainly as the power-up support to the six Celestial Warriors, along with some warm spiritual healing towards the people of Hokkan.
- In one of the manga re-tellings of Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, Sylvia basically becomes a dancing version of Sheryl Nome when she decides to dance for a bunch of Silessa villagers during a tense Hostage Situation involving Prince Lewyn so they won't lose their hope.
- Many filksongs, including Keep The Dream Alive by Steve Savitzky, are Music for Courage In Scientific Endeavor. Keep The Dream Alive, in particular, is about persisting in space exploration despite the tragic losses of Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, both with all hands.
- Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' performed this role in Manchester Lost. Sung by Archangels. To inspire people to beat Satan.
Films — Animated
- Done to a villainous end with Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
- Parodied and subverted in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut—the song "La Resistance" inspires everyone except Stan, Kyle, and Cartman (the three being tasked to what is effectively a suicide mission) since the lyrics turn into Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die.
Films — Live-Action
- The French National Anthem in the "battle of the bands" scene from Casablanca.
- Men of Harlech from Zulu probably counts as an Invoked Trope.
- The scene in The Shawshank Redemption in which Andy DuFresne plays an opera record over the prison's PA system fits this description.
- Similarly, Guido plays an opera record for the inmates of the death camp in Life Is Beautiful.
- In the John Lee Hancock version of The Alamo, the Mexican army would always play a fanfare called "Degüello" (Slit Throat) before they started their bombardment. Hours before the last stand Davey Crockett played by Billy Bob Thornton steps up the rafters and plays in harmony with them on his fiddle to boost morale. subverted in that Santa Anna's army was playing Pavlov with the fanfare so they could sneak in under the cover of night to raid them.
- Jackboots on Whitehall. Daisy sings the hymn Jerusalem, and everyone joins in as an army of evil Nazi marionettes advance towards their Last Stand.
- Subverted at the end of Welcome To Sarajevo when hundreds of people come to see Harun play the cello. Earlier however Harun said he would only do this when Sarajevo became the worst place on Earth (at the time it was only rated the 14th worst place on Earth).
- The Enemy Below. During a series of depth charge attacks, the U-Boat captain plays music (an 18th century march called "Der Dessauer Marsch") over the ship's PA system and has the crew sing along to boost morale. The destroyer escort captain orders another depth charge attack.
Captain: "All ahead for attack, Mr Ware. Maybe we can rip him open in the middle of a waltz."
- The Panzerlied in Battle of the Bulge.
- The Soviet National Anthem, in The Hunt for Red October.
- Crossing over into both Survival Mantra and Theme Music Powerup territory, in one memorable scene in the pilot/movie version of Misfits of Science Johnny B starts chanting the lyrics to Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" to psyche himself up to dash out and plug himself into a power outlet in full view of the soldiers chasing the team — then just keeps singing and sidestepping incoming shots while tossing his lightning bolts around, thereby providing all the distraction the others need.
- The group of townspeople singing The Star-Spangled Banner as the Soviet troops prepare to shoot them in Red Dawn. If not this, it shows great courage *through* music.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the resistance in District 5 sing "The Hanging Tree" before beginning their attack. As it's a guaranteed Suicide Mission that begins with them charging unarmed into gunfire and ends with the flood taking out anyone who might have escaped, it was necessary.
- Plays a prominent part in the end battle in Much Fall of Blood.
- In The Honor of the Queen, Honor Harrington has one of her favourite classical pieces (Hammerwell's Salute to Spring) played while her ship, the HMS Fearless, is preparing to engage Thunder of God, a vastly more powerful vessel. The Fearless was already damaged, and even undamaged it was no match for the larger and more powerful Thunder, but Honor was determined not to let the battlecruiser past her to massacre the planet she was protecting.
- In Grey Knights, a Warhammer 40,000 novel, a Sororitas begins to sing Ave Imperator (the 40k equivalent of Amazing Freaking Grace) just before a battle. The entire convent takes up the song, and they are still singing as the Grey Knights attack (misunderstanding, as a rogue inquisitor set them up). It should be noted the song is a standard chant of the Ecclesiarchy shock troops, and in context is really closer to an ecclesiastical 'jody call'- a morale raising hymn as opposed to impromptu singing.
- In the same book, the Balurian Heavy Infantry attempt a last mad charge against the Adepta Sororitas holding the Tomb of the Saint Kelkannis Evisser, as a result of a rogue Inquisitor spreading misinformation and, while doing so break into a popular boys marching song from Balur- Given that they are all running to madness, betrayal and certain death, it is really rather touching
- Double-use in First And Only. The Jantine Patricians have a number of battle-hymns that they use to rally their forces before combat. The Ghosts, in contrast, use bagpipe music - not only does it help their troops' resolve, everybody else finds it extremely creepy and unnerving.
- The Dresden Files manages to cross this with a Running Gag
- Twice Ms. Gard plays Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" when flying a helicopter on missions. She is also a genuine Valkyrie serving Odin.
- Queen's "We Will Rock You" is played by two people before their attack.
- World War Z justifies this trope. When it became clear that waiting out in the human encampments would not work, the nations of the world launched a counterattack in which the elimination of the undead was the ultimate goal. Groups of soldiers with large reserves of ammo and supplies would play music in order to attract zombies that they would systematically kill. The genius of it? The music also helped with morale. Nations played music that worked and also reflected their cultures, such as bag pipe music for the British and Iron Maiden for the Americans. (The latter was likely done due to the author's status as a huge Iron Maiden fan.)
- Lord of the Rings has this at what is probably its darkest moment, with Frodo locked in the tower of Cirith Ungol. He softly sings:
Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
- and that's how Sam knows where to find him.
- Horatio Hornblower stages a hornpipe dance competition on his ship, while they are sailing in pursuit of a much larger, and better armed, ship in Beat to Quarters.
Live Action TV
- Klingons sing as they're going in to battle; one of these songs is heard in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Soldiers of the Empire" and used on a couple more occasions.
- Subverted in the Musical Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy sings about how they can face any crisis. Her music quickly draws in the other Scoobies, but it's already apparent to Giles that Buffy doesn't really believe in what she's singing.
- Combined with Theme Music Power-Up in The Rough Riders when B Troop sings "Minstrel Boy" after Captain O'Neil is shot.
- James May's Man Lab addresses this trope during the Face Your Fears segment in the supposedly haunted Lympne Castle, noting the points addressed in Real Life section. James chooses Wings' "Mull of Kintyre" to sing; appropriately, Wings once recorded an album in that exact castle.
- Doctor Who. In "Cold War" a Soviet scientist suggests the Doctor's companion fulfill this trope by singing Hungry Like the Wolf, but she refuses.
- The ABBA song Fernando implies this.
- In The Evangeline by Dudley Buffa, drifting castaways, who draw lots who is going to be eaten next every few days, listen to one of them playing the fiddle for hours.
- Subverted in Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. The Dutchman's ghost crew begins a wailing lament that saps the courage of the Norwegian sailors. The Norwegians fight back with a drinking song to keep their spirits up. But the orchestra sides with the ghosts, and the sailors lose heart after all. (It's strongly reminiscent of the Casablanca scene noted above, except the good guys lose.)
- We Slay The Dragon AKA We Are the Chosen Ones by Dream Evil.
- Brush Arbour 's "Bugle Call", which is about defenders of a city being exhorted to Hold the Line against a besieging army . On another level, it could be about not losing one's faith in the face of hardship (The band is a Christian one).
- The Civil War song Hold the Fort, about the battle of Altoona Pass, also doubles as a Christian hymn.
- Dropkick Murphys The Gauntlet, which is about Doughboys psyching themselves up to repel a Hun charge.
- A lot of Power Metal implies this. The Dream Evil page quote is but one example.
- Subverted in Jacek Kaczmarski 's "Mury" (the title literally means "The Walls"), a song about people who gather around a singer whose song about tearing down the walls (quoted in the chorus) gives them the courage to fight for their freedom - the last verse, though, says that such uprisings usually only make "the walls" grow, as even the singer himself is claimed a traitor by the rebels.
- This is ideally what Bards from Dungeons & Dragons bring to the party.
- Les Misérables basically alternates between this and Tear Jerker. In particular, "Red and Black" and "Do You Hear the People Sing" get the revolutionaries psyched up for fighting, and "Drink With Me" keeps their spirits up when the battle isn't going so well. When Act I closes with "One Day More", even the audience is ready to go out and bust some heads.
- In The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, when the hurricane is approaching Mahagonny, Jim tells the people it is time to do away with prohibitions, and starts by leading them in singing a song. A Kangaroo Court later sentences Jim to ten years in prison for singing prohibited songs, his second worst and most popular offense.
- In Sweet Charity, Charity and Oscar sing "I'm The Bravest Individual" when they're trapped in an elevator together. It doesn't do much for them.
- Pretty much the entire point of the Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan games and its American counterpart Elite Beat Agents, especially in the final stages.
- This + The Power of Love = the following scene from Lunar: Silver Star Story: Revealing the Blue Dragon Shrine requires two lovers to stand on a pier and perform a song. Alex steps up alone to play and Luna, imprisoned in the Grindery some hundred-odd miles away, "hears" him and starts singing. The other girls imprisoned with her start to join in. Cue Tear Jerker.
- Subverted in Fallout 3, Enclave Eyebots play traditional USA songs on the fife and drums, as well as inspirational speeches from president Jon Henry Eden. However, the Enclave is a totalitarian government, totally dedicated to eradicating anyone not vault-born.
- The Order of the Stick's Elan tries as best he can. Justified as it is a real bard ability in Dungeons & Dragons. Though most of the time Elan only manages to piss the other party members off with this, at one point (SPOILER WARNING!) he does really good.
- In Rusty and Co., Roxanne. To the complaints of her companions.
- One episode of Doraleous and Associates had the newly promoted General Leslie break down while trying to exhort his soldiers. He sings a lullabye, which the men take up, and terrify the invading army into retreat-only a madman would sing a war lullabye.
- This is the climactic event of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. (As well as the Simpsons episode where the power plant goes on strike, which parodies it.)
- The Simpsons:
- Parodied in an episode where many of the Springfield citizens were in a sinking ship and Comic Book Guy volunteers to help rescue the passagers, but says all he needs is some inspirational music to get him started so he take a radio and plays it, only for it to play Alone again, naturally.
- Played straight in the episode "Bart's Comet," where Ned Flanders walks onto a hilltop, faces the incoming fiery meteor, and sings "Que Será Será." He is soon joined by the rest of the townsfolk, who have worked up the courage to face death singing.
- This is probably the purpose of Fanfare for the Common Man, which it fulfills very well.
- During the 1915 Battle of Loos in World War One, the King's Own Scottish Borderers were assigned to attack the German position on Hill 70. The KOSBs, waiting in their trenches before the attack, were hit by German gas attacks and bombardment. Seeing the men falter, piper Daniel Laidlaw jumped on top of the parapet and began to play his bagpipes, marching up and down in full view of the German lines, which so thrilled the men waiting to attack that they sprung into action immediately. He was awarded the VC for his actions.
- World War II, Normandy invasion. Germans are attacking a bridge which was held by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Ox and Bucks), who had captured the bridge via glider in a coup de main. Meanwhile, First Commando Regiment advances on the Germans to relive the Ox and Bucks and the 7th Parachute Battalion, who had reinforced them. After one exchange of shots, the regimental piper for 1st Commando, Billy Millin, gets up and starts to march across the bridge, playing the bagpipes. The allies redouble their efforts, and the Germans are routed, with the piper miraculously still intact. (Sufficiently memorable to receive a full panel to itself at a large D-day mural in Normandy.
- When First Commando Jack Churchill landed on Sword Beach, Millin escaped injury despite never taking cover as he marched up the beach, playing his pipes. German defenders later swore that they didn't want to shoot at him because they thought he was completely mad.
- Still world war II: A Norwegian resistance group about to be executed, sung the Norwegian national anthem while they were shot. The song was used according to the trope.
- "(And) the band" on the Titanic famously "played on" while the ship was sinking.
- "The Battle Cry of Freedom" in the American Civil War, Lincoln's campaign song for the 1864 re-election campaign. Recognizable, pithy, and so popular that the distributor rented every printing press in Washington and still couldn't meet demand. The abolitionist factiion House famously broke into a spontaneous rendition of it when the Thirteenth Amendment passed.
We are marching to the field, boys, we're going to the fight,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom,
And we'll wear these glorious stars for the Union and the right,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom!
- Note the "Men of Harlech" example in Film. As mentioned in a few other places on this wiki, such as Heroic Sacrifice and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, a man named Rick Rescorla was the head of security for Morgan Stanley until his death on September 11, 2001. While he was working to save as many lives as he could, he sang that same song, but with different lyrics that he learned while growing up in Cornwall.
- Islamic Nasheeds.
- Inverted in Chinese history—the warlord Xiang Yu was battling against Liu Bang; Liu's strategist ordered his soldiers to sing songs from Chu, where Xiang Yu's men came from. Demoralized (because they thought that they had been betrayed by their own countrymen) and homesick, the men slipped away one by one.