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Music: Also Sprach Zarathustra

Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a tone poem composed by Richard Strauss in 1896 (named after the book by Friedrich Nietzsche). The melody of the "Sunrise" movement is undeniably epic, so it's a perfect way to tell the audience, "This is where you're supposed to be impressed."

Stanley Kubrick certainly thought so, and used "Also Sprach Zarathustra" as a leitmotif for several key scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It worked. In fact, it worked so well that these days the composition is better known as "that song from 2001" than by its own name.note  Likewise, most people will probably only recognize the first minute and a half; the entire piece is about half an hour.

Consequently, usage of the composition as a Standard Snippet seem to have been eclipsed by its usage as an Homage or Affectionate Parody of 2001. It's also far more likely to emphasize something painfully mundane than to be used straight. (Arguably, the only place it's been used straight since 2001 was in 2010: The Year We Make Contact.)

Also see The Monolith.

Compare "Ride of the Valkyries".

Any resemblance to The Three Stooges' "Hello... hello... hello! Hello," is probably coincidental. Not to be confused with the third game in the Xenosaga trilogy, also titled Also Sprach Zarathustra. (All 3 games are titled after Nietzsche's works.)

Examples:

Anime

Commercials
  • "In the beginning, there was one. Now there's two — Barqtoos II!" They had to up the tempo a bit in accordance with the short attention span expected of ad viewers.
  • Used in a radio ad for a hardware store in Montreal.
  • Rogers commercials tend to use this as well.
  • A pizza commercial (if he recalls) had the surrounding family playing this while opening the pizza box. The Stinger had this pun:
    Mother: No oboes on the table.
    *twin daughters lower oboes to the floor*
  • Used for Master Builders Australia radio advertisements.

Fan Work

Film
  • As mentioned above, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the Trope Codifier. It's particularly amusing to note that the most dramatic part of the score is not for the title or the on-screen vista, but for the appearance of Kubrick's name.
    • Its use in 2001 is rather apropos. The main theme of Nietzsche's book was the "Übermensch", which was what Dave Bowman becomes when this music plays at the end of the film.
    • It appears again in 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
  • In For All Mankind, a documentary about the Apollo moon missions, an astronaut plays Also Sprach Zarathustra on a cassette player, and he gives a shoutout to 2001.
  • In Catch-22, it is used to properly introduce a hot Italian chick.
  • Used in WALL•E, when the Captain becomes the first human in centuries to stand up. They originally put the score in as a joke, but test audiences cheered, so they left it in.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, complete with a giant bar of chocolate of similar dimensions taking the place of The Monolith.
  • Danny Elfman's score for Tim Burton's Batman has some musical Shout-Outs here and there, perhaps most obviously at the very end of the film, just before everything fades to black. Those three notes that play as Batman is standing on the cathedral roof looking out at the Bat-Signal may not have been intended to evoke Also Sprach Zarathrustra, but it sure sounded like Elfman was trying.
  • In the Buzz Lightyear videogame at the beginning of Toy Story 2, the hover-platforms over the bottomless chasm play this melody as Buzz leaps across them.
    • Which fall immediately after the melody is finished.
  • Disney's My Favorite Martian.
  • Used in Magnolia to introduce Tom Cruise's character. In this case, it is diegetic sound, chosen by his pompous character.
  • Zoolander used it in comedy homage to 2001 when Derek and Hansel were trying to figure out how to turn on Mugatu's computer. As the computer's workings confound them, their behavior grows increasingly ape-like, culminating in Hansel grabbing an appropriately-shaped bone that just happened to be nearby to smash the machine.
  • Being There: Slight variation, with Deodato's funk-jazz version of Also Sprach Zarathustra playing on the soundtrack as Chance makes his first journey into the city.
    • May possibly double as a subtle Actor Allusion hearkening back to Sellers' arguably most famous role(s) in Dr. Strangelove, directed by Mr. Stanley '2001' Kubrick himself.
  • Parodied in Spaceballs (of course): "Spaceball One has become... [cut to kettle-drum player, who plays the obligatory measures] Mega Maid"
  • Parodied in Hot Stuff. Briefly, the movie is about a police sting operation, focusing on capturing thieves. The police involved in the actual sting set up a pawnshop, and due to a distinct lack of support from their department supervisors, have to bankroll the operation by actually selling some of the items people have sold them. The theme comes about halfway through, when the police captain demands to see what they've actually accomplished with their 'little scheme', and they take him into the rear warehouse... which is stacked ten feet high with stolen goods and a crowing rooster, for some reason.
  • In Man on the Moon, Andy Kaufman's on-stage transformation from "Foreign Man" into a seriously good Elvis Presley impersonation was accompanied by this music.
  • Used in Ghostbusters II, when they turn on the proton packs for the first time in years. Lampshaded by having the characters sing it themselves.
  • Used in Clueless, with a phone standing in for the monolith, when Cher is waiting for Christian to call her.
  • Used, possibly as a parody, in Turner and Hooch to introduce the titular dog. Suitably hilarious
  • Parodied near the beginning of History of the World Part I (1981).
  • Used early on in Planet 51 when Charles Baker touches down from his spacecraft. He even hums it. And then he steps on a rubber ducky...
  • Used in Casino as the the theme of a flamboyant Show Within a Show and as an element of a Gilligan Cut made after the protagonist is asked for discretion.
  • In the film The Big Bus, when the nuclear powered bus is first rolled out of the garage onto the parking lot for the press to see, the beginning of this composition is played.

Literature
  • Richard Dawkins once put together the Blind Watchmaker program as a sort of Cliff Notes evolution synthesizer. According to the book The Blind Watchmaker, when he began producing little monochrome 2D insects instead of the trees that were all he'd been expecting, he immediately thought of this music.

Live-Action TV

Music
  • Ray Stevens' "Thus Cacked Henrietta" is this song done entirely in chicken clucks.
  • There is a version by the Portsmouth Sinfonia.
  • Rush used it as their intro tape during their tours for Counterparts and Test For Echo.
  • On at least one of her tours, Jann Arden would be backed by musicians from the orchestra of the city she was currently playing in. When she'd introduce them with her trademark humourous banter, she'd always ask the timpani player "can you play the '2001' theme on those things? Well of course you can, what else are they good for?"
  • Dream Theater used it for intro music in at least one of their live shows, such as several gigs of the "Chaos In Motion" (the promotional tour for Systematic Chaos) tour.
  • Similarly, Green Day used this as intro music during their 2005 American Idiot tour.
  • And let's not forget about the man who predated them all: Elvis Presley, who used it as his entrance music starting around 1972.
  • The motif is inserted into Doctor Steel's song "Spaceboy."
  • 70s artist Deodato made a funked up and jazzed up version of this using the classical recording.
  • In 1998, Blackout did a dance remix titled "Gotta Have Hope"
  • In 2001 Weirdo and Captain Tinrib made a hard trance remix

Other
  • The old Lifespring Basic Training Program, back when they still gave it, used this music to convene every session.
  • This was played for the unveiling of the B-2. It was a sunny day and because of that nobody could see into the shadowed hanger that the plane was in, and as the song started the B-2 slowly rolled out into the light.
  • Russians will mainly know it from the trivia show What? Where? When?.

Professional Wrestling
  • Ric Flair has been using this as his entrance music since the late 1970s.
    • Causing wrestling fans to have an urge to WOOOOOOOOOOO every time they hear this song in any medium.

Radio

Real Life
  • Used as the entrance music for the University of South Carolina football team.
  • Likewise used when the teams take the field at Portsmouth Football Club's ground.
  • Was intended to be the background music of Apollo 13's television broadcast before Fred Haise secretly switched songs on them. And then the broadcast didn't air anyway. (though there is still a snippet of mission video where the song can be heard playing).

Tabletop Games
  • The Sandstone Hyren in Magi-Nation uses what is unmistakably an onomotopoeic version of the song as flavor text. Also, the card itself does have an ability called "Monolith..."

Theatre

Video Games
  • Spore: At the end of the Creature stage, your creature gains sentience, and a general parody of the entire scene from 2001 occurs (although the stick falls back down and hits your creature on the head)
  • Final Fantasy VI: A similar theme accompanies the final boss as he descends from the heavens.
  • The opening cutscene in Startopia, being a parody of the first minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (for example, there's a donut in the monolith), has a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Also Sprach Zarathustra.
  • It is also the subtitle of the third Xenosaga game. Ironically, the Song itself doesn't appear in the game.
  • Reese Worthington hums the tune in Backyard Skateboarding.
  • Used in the eighth mission of Army Men RTS, substituting a standing PS2 for The Monolith. To the Army Men, it's the equivalent of an infinite power source.
  • It plays in Civilization II, when the player gets the space ending.
  • Little Big Planet 2 as a funk remix of ASZ done by the Daniel Pemberton TV Orchestra.
  • The source mod Shotgun Sunrise uses this when lowering a keg of booze you need to retrieve.
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People's Teen Girl Squad minigame in the second episode, the unlockable "alien" card will result in this exchange if executed at the right time:
    Alien: GREE-TINGS, HU-MANS. WE COME FROM SPACE-SPACE TO TEACH YOU HOW TO BUILD PYRAMIDS.
    Narrator Strong Bad: (to the tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra) Deeeead, deeeead, deeead, DEAD-DEEEAD! Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead...
    (A monolith falls on the girl you chose)
    Teen Girl: So artistic and boring!
  • Parodied at the beginning of Saints Row The Third, where it plays alongside a Star Wars-esque Opening Scroll.
  • The cutscene that plays after using the Fan Thing Sticker in Paper Mario: Sticker Star has music almost identical to Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Web Comics
  • Parodied in Questionable Content: Hannelore mentions one of the big drawbacks of living in a space station is having to listen to Also Sprach Zarathustra every time the sun rises.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Beetlejuice
  • Used in the Futurama episode "Godfellas", when Bender floats into view, with a colony of Shrimpkins (and their brewery) living on him. This is a parody of the floating monolith scene in "2001".
    • And in "Near-Death Wish", when the crew enters the room with the retirement boxes. ("Duh-Dun" is replaced with "Ding-Dong", though.)
    Bender: My god, it's full of geezers!
  • Used in a couch gag in The Simpsons where the camera zooms out from the house into space and into Homer's head, ending where it started.
    • Also parodied in Little Girl in the Big Ten. Long story short, it plays when Lisa is thrown off the roof of Springfield Elementary in a plastic bubble, landing in a massive cake and splattering Skinner with it.
    • Again, also parodied in Deep Space Homer at the end when Bart throws the marker pen in the air, like the ape throwing the bone in the air scene in "2001".
  • Used in the episode "Illegal Booze" from a Finnish animated series Pasila in the scene the rioters suddenly get drunk despite not having had any alcohol.
  • Used to hilarious effect in the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Inventors".
  • Used in Daria as the soundtrack to Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer III's bizarre multimedia project.
  • Used in the "Monolith" segements of The Electric Company revealing a letter dipthong or small word, subsequently pronounced by a deistic voice, directly referencing 2001.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Suited For Success", the opening of the song is used in Twilight Sparkle's introduction in the fashion show, complementing her starry-night dress.

Bum-Bum-Bum-Bum-Bum...

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alternative title(s): Also Sprach Zarathustra
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