"The music [in the game] is right out of the movie! I don't know which movie, because this level sounds like I'm being attacked by Danny Elfman and Tim Burton."Nothing quite beats an orchestra for a battle, especially an aerial one. It may involve Ominous Latin Chanting or Autobots, Rock Out!. Or both. Compare Music to Invade Poland To, Fanfare. Contrast with Classical Music Is Boring. If the music is too loud, better hope you have Steel Ear Drums. See Xylophone Gag for when someone makes an actual bomb out of a musical instrument.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The Vision of Escaflowne loves this trope to itty-bitty little pieces, usually combining it with Ominous Latin Chanting.
- Legend of Galactic Heroes lives and breathes this trope. Of course it helps that the entire soundtrack is made up of classical orchestral works.
- The first movie has an entire battle set to Ravel's Bolero.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion loves this trope - so much so that it has fell victim to Memetic Mutation: "[stuff happens] while Hideaki Anno plays unfitting music". Two examples are Shinji vs. Kaworu (Ode to Joy) and Asuka vs. MP Evas (Bach - II Air).
- There's also Asuka getting Mind Raped by Arael while Hideaki Anno plays Handel's Hallelujah in episode 22. Also, the end of said scene in the Director's Cut has Rei nailing Arael with the Lance of Longinus with the end of Handel's Worthy is the Lamb in the background.
- And it's still not done yet: while the original series was no slouch in that department either, Rebuild 3.0's use of Ode to Joy is FUCKING EPIC.
- Haruhi Suzumiya had its space battle episode (the Shout-Out to Uchuu Senkan Yamato) employ this trope with Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony. Fittingly, the "training" course that they went through was set to the almost-comical, waddling march at the end of the first movement.
- The Strike Witches OVA has the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin play during the training battle. The song is also used as background music in some promotional videos. In the show itself, there's Battle of the Witches (Witch no Tatakai) from the first season and Attack! (Shutsugeki) from the second.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 REALLY likes orchestral music during major battles. Sometimes with Ominous Latin Chanting and/or a One-Woman Wail, sometimes without them.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn has the epynomous Unicorn's leitmotif.
- Macross initially averted this trope, but later installments went really wide with it. Examples include Horobi no Uta from Macross Zero's final battle and several other tracks from Macross Frontier.
- The music is as important a character as any other in Space Battleship Yamato. The various series and movies do not hold back on the score during battles.
- This musical style is in full effect during Nanoha's final battle with Fate in the first Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha movie. Better yet, the first half of the heroine's revised Leitmotif is strongly reminiscent of Gustav Holst's Mars, the Bringer of War. Specifically, the part which John Williams also borrowed for the very first space battle in Star Wars: A New Hope...
- Invoked in Kill la Kill, wherein Nonon decides that the upcoming battle between Ryuko and Tsumugu is a perfect opportunity for band practice. Later, in her one-on-one fight with Ryuko, she takes this trope as literally as it possibly can be, right down to nuking the battlefield with weaponized music.
- In One Piece, when Luffy finally gets to multi-punch the everliving crap out of Crocodile, part of Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony (specifically, the first part of the fourth movement, "Allegro con fuoco") plays. It fits the scene surprisingly well.
- Shakugan no Shana pumps out a booming orchestral score often mixed with Ominous Latin Chanting to give it an unbelievable powerful presence. This got especially true in the third season. Being hammered out by the same guy who did the Shadow of the Colossus soundtrack, this is to be expected.
- Apocalypse Now has a quite literal example, where "Ride of the Valkyries" is blasted over the speakers of the choppers as Kilgore's forces attack a village controlled by Viet Cong.
- Dr. Strangelove
- 633 Squadron, possibly the Trope Maker. Scored by Ron Goodwin.
- The Dam Busters, with music by Eric Coates.
- The Battle of Britain has William Walton's Battle in the Air
- Although Ron Goodwin's main theme and his "Luftwaffe March" from that movie fit the trope much better.
- Jerry Goldsmith's epic score for the war film,The Blue Max, highlighted with the cue, TheAttack.
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, based on the previous.
- Ditto for the battle themes in the rest of the series.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe used this, though that was part of the movie's proper score.
- Happens quite literally in V for Vendetta, where the titular V plays Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" over London's public address system when he blows up the Old Bailey and the Houses of Parliament.
- Used during the Earth-Shattering Kaboom at the climax of Damnatus.
- Used pretty-much constantly in Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie. With tons of Ominous Latin Chanting. More than justified, since it has pretty much an hour of nuclear explosion footage. I definitely heard Dies Ira, and I think I heard Die Valkyrie.
- Aliens uses this a lot, particularly in the ambush of the Marines as they enter the hive and Ripley's escape with Newt from the exploding atmosphere processor.
- Several examples from Starship Troopers, most notably Klendathu Drop, from the scene where the Fleet and the Mobile Infantry launch their first assault on Klendathu.
- Literally in A Song Is Born, as a rousing rendition of "Flying Home" manages to cause a drum to fall on one of the villains, knocking him out (after "The Anvil Chorus" failed to work).
- Star Trek examples:
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture gives us the Klingon theme in its opening scene ("Klingon Battle") contributed by Jerry Goldsmith. V'Ger's theme, played on an instrument called the Blaster Beam, also features in the same scene.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has both the new Trek theme by James Horner, along with Khan's , both of which come to a head in "Suprise Attack" and "Battle in the Mutara Nebula''.
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock reprises the theme from the last movie and features the new, percussion-heavy Klingon theme by James Horner, which would return for an Awesome Moment in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector".
- Averted in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home which features no aerial or space battles, and no shots fired in anger. Besides, the music by Leonard Rosenmann was decidedly Lighter and Softer.
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, for all its faults, has the return of Jerry Goldsmith and his Klingon theme, with the screech of a real Bird-of-Prey mixed in, mainly heard in the track "With Out Help".
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country brings Cliff Eidelman, who contributes yet another Klingon theme, which provides the score for "The Battle For Peace", where the crew of the Enterprise frantically try to stop a conspiracy from destroying the last hope for universal peace.
- Star Trek: First Contact has "Red Alert", where the Federation fleet takes on a Borg Cube headed straight for Earth. Jerry Goldsmith reprises his Klingon theme as Worf's Leitmotif.
- Generations calls extra attention to the score as the scenes repeatedly shift between barely audible soft music with Picard trying to sneak into Soran's work area on the surfance, and the blaring battle music with the Enterprise battling the Klingons in space, and the resulting crash landing due to damage.
- This shows up a few times in Honor Harrington:
- In Honor of the Queen, Honor has Hammerwell's 7th symphony played shipwide during the first battle of Yeltsin.
- One of the Havenite commanders uses "Ride of the Valkyries" as their general quarters signal.
- In Small Favor, Hendricks and Gard (who happens to be an honest-to-god Valkyrie) perform a Big Damn Heroes with an attack helicopter to "The Ride of The Valkyries", with Hendricks riding shotgun... with a Mini Gun.
- Farscape: The destruction of Scorpius' command carrier featured orchestral music and Ominous Latin Chanting.
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
- Whenever there was any kind of fight sequence, whether it was between people or spaceships, it would be accompanied by the most over-the-top, bombastic music imaginable. In fact, they often did this even when there was no fighting happening, like say when an ambassador boards the ship. This was a critical element of the series' Narm Charm and really complemented the acting style. It was sadly missing from most of the later series - compare the scoring to the very same fight scene in "The Trouble With Tribbles" and DS9's "Trials and Tribble-ations" for a perfect example of this.
- No Original Series score exemplifies this trope quite like the scores for "Amok Time" (by Gerald Fried) and "The Doomsday Machine" (by Sol Kaplan). Cues from both scores would go on to be reused throughout later episodes, with the cue "Ancient Battle" from the former being commonly known as the Star Trek Fight Music. The music from both episodes were even included together on one soundtrack album.
- Ron Jones was probably the best among the composers for the sequel series at using this in his scores (see "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2" in particular the track "Intervention", for a perfect example). Too bad he left TNG during the fourth season. The main reason was because Rick Berman hated this trope, and wanted the music to be strictly part of the background of the show, like wallpaper.
- Mythbusters recently had some fun with this trope in their Top 25 Special showing off their various explosions to the 1812 Overture.
- Babylon 5 used this in every space battle, to cover the (unique for SF shows at the time) absence of sound in space. The opening and closing themes also count.
- The Pilot Movie of JAG has this in its final aerial battle scene.
- Spoofed on Monty Python's Flying Circus in a sketch that shows an orchestra in a field playing the "Blue Danube Waltz." For no particular reason, in each successive musical phrase another musician blows up.
- Richard Wagner's Prelude to Act III of ''Lohengrin'', has become something of a Standard Snippet for air raids. Likewise, Ride of the Valkyries for a bombastic assault. It was used in Apocalypse Now for a very good reason.
- The 1812 Overture itself! To quote Calvin and Hobbes:
"Gee, and I thought classical music was boring!"
- Two words: Cannons firing. That's not a glib comment; that's actually part of the musical instruction. Yes, the piece, when properly performed, actually uses cannons as part of the orchestra. Ya know, since the 1812 Overture was originally written to mark Russia valiantly defending Moscow against Napoleon's seemingly unstoppable horde. Which makes it even more awesome!
- Gustav Holst wrote the "Mars, Bringer of War" segment of The Planets suite before World War I had started, but it depicts the brutality and scale of its mechanized warfare brilliantly. John Williams certainly had it in mind - see the ship chase at the opening of Star Wars Episode IV.
- Richard Strauss's "Ein Heldenleben" ("A Hero's Life") has an impressive battle sequence, beginning with a hostile fanfare and leading to leitmotifs dueling amid assorted orchestral fireworks.
- Symphony No. 1 (In Memoriam Dresden, 1945) is a piece written to represent the firebombing of the German city of Dresden by the Allies in 1945. The first three movements are fairly slow and ominous, but the fourth, aptly entitled "Firestorm", pulls out all the stops. Trombones are made to imitate the sound of bomber engines, an air-raid sired blares, drums placed all around the stage are slammed to mimic the impact of the bombs, band members scream in German - it gets intense.
- Ludwig van Beethoven was probably the first one to use the trope. His Eroica symphony opens with two full orchestral chords, to underline this point (Timpani included). His overture "Wellington's Victory" plays it even more literally, with the score calling for muskets and artillery sound effects to represent the battle.
- Bayonetta 's later levels go all out on orchestral music and choir, to match the scale of what's going on.
- Company of Heroes does this on a regular basis, one minute the music can barely be heard as your troops move around the village or pass a few bushes and blaring you with Trumpets and a wide assortment of instruments the next as your tanks get blown to pieces by rockets or shells raining down from heaven as if the sky was crashing down.. In short as the action heats up the orchestra start doing their thing, and it is Awesome.
- Ace Combat uses this trope repeatedly:
- Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere uses Ominous Latin Chanting whenever you fight an XR-900 Geopelia or an X-49 Night Raven. Yes, these planes are just that superpowered.
- Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies uses Agnus Dei (preceeded by a brief verse of Rex Tremendae) for its final mission. The result? Pure awesome.
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War also creates a uniquely fresh trope from this; the Ominous Latin Chanting from the game's Razgriz theme "The Unsung War" are in fact a Vulgate Latin translation of the Razgriz prophecy, quoted earlier in the game.
- Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War (the final mission music of the game of the same name) combines that with Spanish flamenco. Seriously. One of the few sightings of Ominous Latin Chanting's elusive cousin, Ominous Spanish Castanets.
- Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation departs from this, to a degree, through the use of a Rather Depressing Boy's Choir. It also plays it straight at the same time, however, with the Liberation of Gracemaria.
- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon gives us Release.
- No matter how bad the Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight was, and how the soundtrack is completely different from previous installments, anyone had to admit this: When you playing as GDI, and some action starts, THIS is freaking epic. Too bad its just about only epic thing from game officially entitled "epic conclusion of the saga".
- The World War II Battlefield games, first with 1942, and then 1943.
- Every Final Fantasy game ever
- Halo. The original trilogy has some particularly notable examples, such as "Brothers In Arms/Follow Our Brothers", "On/Behold A Pale Horse", "Drumrun" (during the escape from Halo: Combat Evolved's "The Maw"), "Earth City" (its rollicking and irregular rhythm fits with the movements of the Scarab Walker in Halo 2), "Delta Halo Suite: Leonidas" (heard in Halo 2 during the gondola rides on "Regret", and again in Halo 3 during the air battle on "The Covenant"), "Blow Me Away"(during the climactic battle on 2's "Gravemind" mission), "This Is Our Land", "This is the Hour" and "Finish The Fight" (the music in the original Halo 3 advertisement).
- The Halo Theme, naturally. It becomes even more bombastic in Halo 3 as "Greatest Journey" (the final escape theme), when Martin O'Donnell swapped out the first game's synthesizers with a live orchestra.
- Homeworld: The Burning of Kharak is set to a choral version of Adagio for Strings, with the lyrics to Agnus Dei. A double-whammy. Click here for the version used in the game.
- If you can play through that part of the game without crying you aren't human.
- Then it comes back during the truly epic battle of the final mission. Rebel reinforcements arrive to take the pressure off your fleet and start driving a hole through the Emperor's defenses, sacrificing themselves while giving you the chance to strike back For Great Justice. Hell yes.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the final boss fight takes place in a field of white flowers and has a 10 minute time limit. If you have not defeated your opponent by that point, you both get killed in an air strike. The fight starts with no music at all, but after 5 minutes an instrumental version of the games main theme, which you have heard several times at that point, starts playing and you know that if you haven't won by the final note, you'll be dead.
- An orchestral version of Beyond The Bounds plays during an epic air siege in Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner.
- Given the huge number of remixes and styles incorporated in the Super Smash Bros. series, pure statistics alone dictate that a ludicrously epic orchestral piece will be playing in the background at some point.
- Super Mario Galaxy's soundtrack is 90% orchestrated (same for the sequel), and has this all over the place in varying degrees, but the best examples would have to be every single Bowser battle theme.
- Later games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series have embraced this trope for their final boss battles, using orchestral versions of the games' main themes. These include Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) 's arrangement of His World, Sonic Unleashed 's arrangement of Endless Possibility, and Sonic Colors ' arrangement of Reach for the Stars, all of which also add electric guitars for good measure.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has this trope in spades, fittingly enough coming from the same music team behind the Galaxy games. While the overworld themes are surprisingly low-key (with the exception of the Sky theme), the boss themes in particular are particularly bombastic.
- The overall theme, Ballad of the Goddess, starts with a solo Harp of Femininity (appropriately enough), and after about 45 seconds launches into epicness.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl has Final Destination, which is both this and Ominous Latin Chanting.
- BioShock. When you place the third (out of four) picture in the art collab, the already unstable Sander Cohen freaks out and, in a fit of instability, orders his henchmen to kill you. Cue the Crowning Moment of Awesome as you beat the living crap out of splicers who seem to come out of Hammer Space. You'll be symponizing a bloody massacre while Waltz of the Flowers blares throughout the studio for minutes, though odds are that you'll be done by 2:44.
- The action themes in the later Syphon Filter games.
- The Tales Series is full of them.
- Guilty Gear is more well-known for its heavy metal than orchestral music, yet Guilty Gear Xrd's rendition of Ky's classic theme "Holy Orders" (which only plays when Ky's ponytail is undone) proves that not only does the series do orchestral music well, but that pairing it up with heavy metal makes it even better.
- Resident Evil 5 has a full orchestra for Excella as Uroboros Aheri's boss fight, Jill's boss fight, and Wesker's boss fights.
- This is the music during the Exterminatus scene in Dawn of War II.
- Serious Sam: The Second Encounter has you traversing the game to various music score ranging from atmospheric ethnics to rock remixes of Jingle Bells. However, the final level is a massive showdown set to this.
- Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time allows the player to invoke this at will once they come across the game's Infinity +1 BFG, the RYNO V, as the gun in question plays the finale of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture for as long as it's fired.
- A game that's unfortunately been largely forgotten, Kessen and its sequel Kessen II, runs on this trope. ''Kessen'' in particular was one of the first games ever to have a full orchestral soundtrack, performed by the Moscow International Symphonic Orchestra, so it was almost nothing but Orchestral Bombing. Kessen III, the last of the series, also has some bombing but uses Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly for most battle themes.
- Spongebob Squarepants Battle For Bikini Bottom's Final Boss music is this.
- Several of the battle themes from Fallout 3, especially Battle 5, aka "Behemoth".
- The Hoover Dam theme in Fallout: New Vegas. Double points when the Boomers commence their bombing run on whichever faction you're fighting against.
- Fallout 4 goes ahead and just gives you a classical music radio station so you can make just about any situation in the game run on this trope.
- In the helicopter rail shooter level of Soldier of Fortune II, the pilot decides to play Ride of the Valkyries as a shout out to Apocalypse Now, but the stereo is destroyed by gunfire.
- Mount & Blade: In the Napoleonic Wars mod, you get artillery to fire at the enemy. You also get troops that carry nothing but musical instruments to play for morale. The rest of the equation is up to you.
- Beyond Good & Evil has a powerful soundtrack that is completely downloadable on the web. The very first fight that Jade has involves a big stick, several aliens and a choir of pissed-off angels singing background for her. The final fight raised this Up to Eleven.
- The soundtrack of Elemental Gearbolt is all orchestral, all the time and the gameplay is all aerial battles, all the time.
- In Shadow of the Colossus, all of the music is orchestrated. It also only starts playing when you encounter the Colossi.
- Subverted by Psychonauts, which has the lighter portions of the 1812 Overture playing during the Napoleonic board game level.
- The soundtrack to Legacy Of The Void makes liberal use of this trope. Standout examples include:
- Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave does this with the porridge shooting run, as an homage to films like The Dam Busters.
- The intro theme music for Batman: The Animated Series does this perfectly, with the booms and flourishes matching up perfectly with the action on-screen.
- The old Disney cartoon Music Land has this in a literal sense, when two music-themed islands of animate musical instruments assault each other... using giant organ pipes and horns as cannons.
- In the canyon chase sequence of Rango, Ride of the Valkyries is played. On banjos. Note that the banjos are in-universe: they're being played by an army of hillbilly shrews as they chase the heroes on the backs of bats.