Using the style, instrumentation, and sound of one piece of music on a different melody, notably a show's theme tune, for mood effect. Also handy if you wish to parody a famous piece of music, but can't afford to license the melody. Parodying a public-domain song is, of course, problem-free.
If the song in question is written from scratch, it's Suspiciously Similar Song
Not to be confused with the group that sang Sonic Boom
- Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai, parodying Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and quite a few others.
- Lucky Star, during the race scene, had a suspiciously Initial D sounding song , One time in episode 2 there was a Gun Buster parody, with a knockoff of the opening song, "Active Heart", seriously , and in episode 17 there was a parody of Cat's Eye using a knockoff of the ending theme , but with Kagami as an extra.
- Joe Hisaishi pretty much plays around with one or two melodies for the entire soundtrack of Howl's Moving Castle.
- There is also a section of 'Ashitaka and San' (Princess Mononoke) that sounds very similar to part of 'Ano Natsu E/Inochi no Namae' (Spirited Away).
- The Cowboy Bebop episode "Pierrot le Fou" includes a brilliant pastiche by Yoko Kanno of Pink Floyd's "On the Run". (This is actually a legitimate cover; it's even listed on the soundtrack as "On the Run" with the original writers credited.)
- Occurs early in the first episode of Gundam 0083 when Kou, Burning, Kieth and Alan are having a staged Mobile Suit battle to test a new attachment for the GM. The show's first theme is played with a different tempo for effect.
- The main theme of the Read or Die OVA is a particularly dramatic James Bond-style piece, which is remixed to provide basically all of the music in both it and the later TV series.
- Full Metal Panic!; one of the pieces of background music is a knockoff of the theme song for The A-Team.
- The Japanese version of Digimon Adventure reused a musical score from Sailor Moon, and strangely enough the music composer for both shows was none other than the late Takanori Arisawa. Compare the two - at 2:35 for the Sailor Moon version and click here for the Digimon version, and tell me that they don't sound almost exactly the same.
- The Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! reused a musical score from Cyber Team in Akihabara, and both series share the same composer, Shinkichi Mitsumune. And for comparisons sake The Cyberteam version and the Yu-Gi-Oh! version.
- The Musical Episode of Nodwick consists of parody lyrics reflecting the goings-on, sung to the tunes of famous pop and rock songs (as explained by the author's foot notes). The author even has the villain's number break the fourth wall to explain that this is Fair Use and he's safe from lawsuits.
- Batman (1989) had a snippet of "Scandalous" by Prince worked into the otherwise somber Danny Elfman score.
- Not that the song isn't fairly somber in its own way, especially when used in the film.
- The music originally composed for the Sarlacc Pit battle in Star Wars (Sail Barge Assault Alternate, released as a bonus track) is quite different from the music heard in the film, but the film music is kind of a pastiche of the original(the middle part and the ending are almost identical).
- And of course, several musics in the hexalogy were pastiches of parts of Holst's "Planets" suite. Examples: the music during the capture of the Blockade Runner and the destruction of the Death Star are based on the middle and end, respectively, of "Mars, The Bringer of War". Leia's theme is based on "Venus, The Bringer of Peace", and the music during the Rebels' approach to the Death Star resembles the "Jupiter" movement. The music when Luke is dragging Vader/Anakin to the shuttle is quoted from the first measures of the "Uranus" movement.
- The "Victory Celebration" music from the special edition of Return of the Jedi sounds rather similar to the Superman love theme, of course also written by John Williams.
- The theme from True Romance (You're so Cool by Hans Zimmer) is near identical to Gassenhauer by Carl Orff.
- Also by Hans Zimmer, "Parley" from Pirates Of The Carribbean: At World's End is an Ennio Morricone Pastiche. In fact, the entire scene where the two groups slowly walk towards each other is an Homage to Spaghetti Westerns.
- Good Eats does this a lot. Its simple, ten-note Surf Rock theme tune has been morphed into everything from the theme to The X-Files, the "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music, and a sea chanty, to "Theme from A Summer Place" and a heavy rock riff for guitar and Hammond.
- When a comedy character is being sneaky, adapting his theme music into a parody of the themes from the James Bond films, Mission: Impossible, or The Saint is almost a requirement. (These three actually have a lot in common musically, so it's possible to hit all three in one parody).
- One that almost happened on TV: Square One TV was originally going to be called "That's Mathematics", and Tom Lehrer wrote a theme song for it, to the tune of "That's Entertainment". But in the end, the name of the show was changed so the song wasn't used. Then, Lehrer brought the song back for a celebration of Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, but due to copyright, had to write his own tune to it (which keeps basically the same rhythm and style).
- The Avengers pastiched Batman's Theme Tune in the climax battle of the episode "The Winged Avenger", complete with The Hit Flash, which took the form of huge comic book panels reading "POW!", "SPLAT!" and "BAM!" being smashed into the bad guy's face.
- Every episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy ended with a parody of an existing song where the new lyrics related to the episode's topic (for example, "Born to be Wild" becomes "Bones in my Body" for the episode on the skeletal system).
- And it had several pastiches of popular songs during the show, including Wipeout, La Bamba, 2 Unlimited's No Limit (maybe a coincidence), and the James Bond theme (some of these, of course, are public domain).
- The Cosby Show changed its theme song's stylistic every year. It was a regular pop song the first year. Then it was a Caribbean tune and an orchestrated tune, and a salsa number, before being a parody of "Shotgun" for its last season.
- Spitting Image did this a lot. The best remembered is "The Chicken Song", which sounds very similar to "Agadoo" by Black Lace.
- The X-Files had a just-different-enough version of Sing, Sing, Sing for the big scene in Triangle.
- Sesame Street did this for most of its parody songs, using the same rhythm with a different tune, eg "Rebel L", a pastiche of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell". Of course because PBS doesn't have the funding for licensing fees.
- There have been several spoof rock bands which parody specific songs or styles of music, but not all of these can be called pastiches. There are at least two bands that blur the line between pastiche and parody.
- The Hee Bee Gee Bees parodied numerous bands of the 70s and 80s, often very closely pastiching the original melodies.
- The Rutles, originally seen in a TV Mockumentary, pastiched The Beatles. In some cases the pastiche was almost too close for comfort, as in the case of "Get Up and Go", which was almost banned from the soundtrack CD because of its resemblance to "Get Back". Fortunately Paul McCartney saw the joke, to the extent of performing the song himself.
- Similarly to The Rutles, Utopia's album Deface the Music is comprised entirely of affectionate Beatles parodies. As with the Rutles' music, many of these songs are parodies of specific Beatles songs, and for people who have listened to the Beatles' music enough times, it's easy to pick out which song each of these parodies.
- Richard Cheese has made a career off of the discovery that profanity-filled metal and rap songs become intrinsically hilarious when played as extremely white-bread Lounge Music.
- While the world thinks of him as strictly a parody artist, "Weird Al" Yankovic's songs are actually split about half and half between parody works and pastiches. Dare to Be Stupid may be his best known of these; a pastiche of the works of Devo that was part of the soundtrack for a Transformers Animated Movie. Notable for drawing the comment from a critic that he had out-Devoed Devo.
- Not just from critics. Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo's frontman, wrote a letter to Weird Al, congratulating him for writing the perfect Devo song.
- Variation 22 from Beethoven's 32 variations on a theme by Diabelli is a pastiche of the aria "Notte e giorno faticar" from Mozart's Don Giovanni.
- The trance track "Lovestruck" by DJ Janis uses the instrumentation of Kay Cee's "Escape" and the riff of George Michael's "Careless Whisper".
- Taco's "Got to Be Your Lover" seems to be a pastiche of Rick Astley, particularly "Together Forever". In fact, it's more or less a Suspiciously Similar Song to that song.
- 2Girlz's "Fallen Angel" is a heavily autotuned pastiche of Cascada, particularly "Everytime We Touch" and "Bad Boy". The verse lyrics also have shoutouts to the former. It was co-produced by Axel Konrad of Groove Coverage, whom Cascada themselves ripped off frequently, so it may be a Take That.
- Cyndi Lauper's "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)" is a pastiche of her original "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love".
- A capella group Straight No Chaser recorded a mashup of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's version of "Somewhere, Over The Rainbow".
- Mylo's "Dr. Pressure" combines the instrumentation from his own "Drop the Pressure" with the lyrics of Miami Sound Machine's "Dr. Beat".
- Wicked uses a bit of the melody from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in the recurring "Unlimited" leitmotif, which is basically Elphaba's theme. On the length of the snippet of melody: it's just enough to avoid copyright problems—the first seven notes (somewhere, over the rainbow!).
- It also uses the chords of "No One Mourns the Wicked" and its overture as a recurring theme, and intersperses it with "For Good", which itself incorporates the chord theme, in the finale ultimo.
- The 1971 version of No, No, Nanette does this with reprises of "I Want To Be Happy," which three characters sing it like "I Wanna Be Loved By You," gut-bucket Bessie Smith blues and "It's Delightful To Be Married."
- In The Music Man, the melodies of "Goodnight, My Someone" and "Seventy Six Trombones" are pastiches of each other. This is made obvious by a reprise which switches between the two songs with every other line.
- Similarly, in Leonard Bernstein's Mass, the a capella chorale "Almighty Father" is based on a slower version of the "In nomine Patris" which precedes it.
- The first half of Amaluna's finale combines the vocal melody and rhythm of "Elma Om Mi Lize" with the instrumentation and backing melody of "Run", the preceding song.
- Much of the music from Super Mario World is based on one single melody.
- And Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Sunshine, and New Super Mario Bros., and Yoshi's Island DS... Super Mario Galaxy is the first major Mario game in ages not to do this, and it still uses a single strain in quite a bit of its music.
- The Banjo-Kazooie games have a dynamic soundtrack that morphs between styles depending on where you are in a given area. In Banjo-Tooie, they even incorporated tempo shifts.
- A lot of tunes from the Ys games, especially IV and VI, are based on a recurring bassline/chord progression, especially those of Adol's Theme and Selceta Forest. Lesser pastiches include the intro of Ernst(remixed from Final Battle), Overwater Drive(heavily based on Beat of the Terror), Mountain Zone(pastiche of both Palace of Solomon and Forest of Selceta) Lava Zone(resembles Termination, the Final Boss music from Ys Book I and II), Defend and Escape(includes the Ark/Napishtim's theme, Selceta Forest, and even part of Niena from Ys V), The Depth Napishtim(in addition to using the Ark leitmotif, it also draws from Termination), and Spread Blue View(uses parts of Reconciled People, the Port Rimorge theme).
- Many songs in the Silent Hill series, eg Promise, Not Tomorrow, Killing Time, Theme of Laura, I Want Love, Waiting for You, are pastiches of the first game's opening theme, and a few other themes have pastiches as well. Not necessarily recurring riffs.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles had a different music composer than the first two games, hence the absence of the original title theme, but the main boss theme is a pastiche of both the miniboss theme(the second part) and the Sonic 1 boss theme(the first part, somewhat more resembles the Final Boss version).
- Sonic Adventure 2's various level themes often echo "Live and Learn," the game's theme song.
- In Sonic Unleashed, the first few seconds of the opening cutscene music sound remarkably like something from Star Wars.
- Super Spy Hunter, originally called Battle Formula, is not a true sequel to the arcade Spy Hunter, but the music in Stage 2-1 is a pastiche of the Peter Gunn/original Spy Hunter theme.
- The two most common background musics in the NES version of Bionic Commando use pretty much the same chord progression and rhythm, and have some melodic similarities.
- The Halo trilogy does this with many of its music pieces, using the same instrumentation, rhythm, sometimes chords, on different melodies, eg the Delta Halo leitmotif in Halo 2 is a pastiche of the series' main theme, Leonidas is a pastiche of On a Pale Horse, Impend is a pastiche of The Gun Pointed at the Head of the Universe, and Farthest Outpost is a pastiche of the Ark theme and In Amber Clad , which in turn is loosely based on Under Cover of Night.
- The Last Spartan + Unyielding = Finish The Fight. The intro of the song also contains a pastiche of High Charity.
- "Peril" mixes together the rhythm of "Perilous Journey" and the melodies of "The Last Spartan", "High Charity", and the Delta Halo theme.
- The first part of Heretic', Hero combines the melodies of the Truth and Reconciliation Suite intro and TGPATHOTU. In turn, the Delta Halo theme is used on top of the Heretic beat in the beginning of the Delta Halo Suite.
- "High Charity: Pursuit of Truth" is a pastiche of of the song "Leela" from the original Marathon and "The Gun Pointed at the Head of the Universe", and it pays homage to Kraftwerk's Man Machine album as well, possibly sampling them (eg the beat and the characteristic "twang" sound effect).
- Under Cover of Night + Perchance to Dream = Dream Again.
- During the credits of Halo 3, Farthest Outpost, Under Cover, and the guitar riff of In Amber Clad are all mixed together.
- "Respite"(and the second half of "Tribute") is "High Charity" done in the style of the Arbiter's leitmotif.
- "Unreconciled" is a combination of "Lone Wolf" and the original Halo theme. "Hymn for Reach" and "The Fall" sound similar to "Respite/Tribute" and "Enough/No More Dead Heroes", respectively. "The Battle Begins" is a pastiche of the main theme and the rhythm of "Ghosts of Reach" from Halo 2. The In "Amber Clad" beat also returns, in "Sword Control" and "We Remember". The main theme itself sounds like a tweaked version of "Farthest Outpost" from Halo 3. A warped version of the Gregorian chant is also used several times.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the theme that plays when you fight Jenova*SYNTHESIS, Jenova Complete/Absolute, is a Musical Pastiche of Those Who Fight which uses the synthesiser line from J-E-N-O-V-A.
- Time Crisis 3 doesn't directly use the series' main theme, but instead a pastiche of it, ie mostly the same rhythm and structure, but a completely different melody. This theme in turn got tweaked for the fourth game.
- Several other musics in the series, including "Rumbling of the Earth" and Wild Dog's Leit Motif, are also pastiches of the series' Recurring Riff.
- From No More Heroes, the song Staff Wars is the ranking song Righteous, Triumphant, Etcetera, arranged a la John Williams.
- A pretty good chunk of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers' story music is based on Dialga's theme.
- Super Smash Bros.. Brawl peppers the main theme throughout menus, a few minigames, two stages, and the Subspace Emissary story mode.
- In The Oregon Trail II, the starting town themes and trail themes are mostly variations of the title theme.
- The Fort Schmerzen theme in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is a combination of the original Fort Schmerzen theme, the V2 rocket plant theme, and the MOHAA title theme. In general, the Medal of Honor soundtracks are pastiches / homages to John Williams' scores to Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Saving Private Ryan.
- Remixer AmIEviL did a mashup of Stage 5's theme from Blaster Master and Bomb Man's theme from Mega Man.
- The final battle theme of Super Mario 64 is an Ominous Pipe Organ rearrangement of Bowser's theme in the style of Bach's "Toccata & Fugue".
- The music for Quest for Yrolg is a minor-key and more metal-y rendition of the Quest for Glory march.
- Also typical of Frank Zappa.
- "Heir Conditioning" from Homestuck starts off with a pastiche of "Beloved Tomboyish Daughter" from the Touhou Project (Cirno's theme).
- Inspector Gadget was fond of it, turning its short theme song into jungle drums, French provincial folk music, rock and roll, and a few other styles.
- Other pastiches included the "clockwork" version(heard in Cuckoo Clock Caper and a couple other episodes), "Hail to the Chief", part of the song "New York, New York" mixed with the IG theme, and the "chase theme", which obviously pastiches the Knight Rider theme song. And the theme itself is a pastiche of Edward Grieg's "In the Halls of the Mountain King" and Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz".
- The Simpsons has often done this with its main theme during the closing credits of an episode. For instance, in a police-themed episode the song was turned into an homage to the Hill Street Blues theme music, and in the Australia-themed episode the song was accompanied by a didgeridoo.
- There was even one episode where the credits theme was done a capella, complete with video.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog did this quite a bit.
- Batman: The Animated Series tends to work the villains' theme motifs into the episodes where they appear or are causing trouble from behind the scenes.
- Jimmy Neutron is famous for making songs that sound not quite exactly like the pop or old folk songs the viewers would know.
- "Ladies of Spain" from Jaws, for example.
- "Hey La" for another.
- The Fairly Oddparents also does it a lot.
- "Real and Scary" song from one of their Halloween specials has a riff [and a visual gag] that is reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller".
- There are several of the aforementioned Mission: Impossible riffs.
- There's a riff on Popeye using beets rather than spinach.
- This troper remembers a part in the original X-Men cartoon where the mutants crash into a TV Studio where a very Power Rangers type show is filming - when they exit, a suited-up actor looks at them curiously while the notes corresponding to the words "Go go Power Rangers!" start to play and then putter out.
- The theme from Totally Spies! uses the exact same tune as Moonbaby's "Here We Go", just with different lyrics. Later episodes only used the instrumental of the song, maybe due to legal reasons.
- WALL•E does this a lot with "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" from Hello, Dolly! At one point, a robot moves some of his parts to "sing" the first few notes of the refrain as something of Theme Music Power-Up for WALL-E.