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Disco Tech

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Technology that heavily involves music, usually either activating things, or somehow being a power source.

This cannot be music for puzzle solving, or things like that. It has to be technology using music.

Name is a pun on the term "discotheque".

Magic Music is the magic counterpart to this trope.

Compare The Power of Rock, Band Land.

If the music is used as a weapon, you're looking for Musical Assassin. Not to be confused with Discotek.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Later series in the Macross franchise feature technology powered up or wholy enabled by special "fold waves", which humans and most other races can usualy only generate by singing.
  • Symphogear features ancient power armors that run on "phonic energy", also known as singing.
  • The Legend of Black Heaven has an alien super-weapon being powered by Oji's epic rocking.
  • The original version of Astro Boy's Artificial Sun, a giant, floating, octopus-like robot that generates massive amounts of heat, was controlled by playing a keyboard. To activate it you play "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine", naturally. Most subsequent adaptations leave this out for being rather silly.

    Comic Books 
  • In the comic Grimjack in issue #76 he travels to a dimension where sound can be used as a weapon. He, an old friend, and a number of new allies fight to protect "The Heart of Rock" from the evil forces of corporate music. The weapons used are musical instruments. And most of the characters are based on rock musicians.

    Fan Works 
  • Extremely important in Left Beyond for both timelines: in the Millennial Kingdom "wubbers", basically Weirding Module expies, are the setting's replacement for tazers and other nonlethal weapons, while in Tripocalypse it was a sonic weapon that brought the Battle of Armageddon to a halt.
  • Popular Fanon has Vinyl Scratch build and use a "bass cannon", a huge set of speakers that fire a Wave-Motion Gun-like beam of pure dubstep. It's apparently quite effective, as it was able to defeat Discord with one blast in "Epic Wub Time", a non-canon fan animation. Also, at the beginning of the video, Octavia explains how Vinyl cleans dishes "with wubs".
  • Metal Effect, a crossover fic between Brütal Legend and Mass Effect replaces the Element Zero of the latter for the Heavy Metal Magic Music of the former, resulting in Magitek starships fuelled by The Power of Rock.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Major Domo in Captain EO.
  • Durand Durand's "Orgasmic Organ" in Barbarella.
  • Willy Wonka has a door with a musical lock, opened by a piece by Rachmaninoff.
  • Masters of the Universe has the Cosmic Key, a device that is capable to open portals the destination of which depends on the notes that are played on it.
  • Prometheus has alien holographic displays which are somehow controlled through the playing of a flute.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Killjoys:
    • An assassin carries a music-activated lockbox with an antidote to her preferred poison.
    • The crew minus Johnny have to reboot Lucy, the ship's AI, before disaster strikes. They first try imitating Johnny's voice, then realize the key is a song associated with the night Johnny and Lucy first met while he was trying to steal the ship.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Paradise Syndrome" features a potentially world-destroying asteroid held at bay by a repulsive field that is controlled through the use of music.
  • In the two-part Wonder Woman episode "Judgment From Outer Space, the alien Andros activates his powers by rubbing an amulet and whistling. His ship also has a whistle-activated lock.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Trigger, the cathedral of the Middle Ages features doors that can be opened by playing a nearby organ.
  • In Mother 3, you can perform combo attacks by pressing the A button to the beat of the battle music. This feature is described in-game as a "sound battle".
  • Final Fantasy X-2: Vegnagun's controls are a massive keyboard.
  • King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella: Rosella plays a certain tune on the haunted house's pipe organ to get the key to the burial vault.
  • In Loom many actions, properties and abilities (to name a few: opening, night vision, invisibility, sharpness, green color) are reflected as sequences of notes ("drafts") on the magical distaff (hinted to be a Sufficiently Advanced Technology of 9th millennium). When spellweavers play the notes, they duplicate the effect. Oh, and playing a draft backwards gives the opposite effect. This gives the game its unique interface: to perform any action beyond simple goto/pick/examine the hero has to learn the correct draft from somewhere and play it.
  • The Dubstep Gun from Saints Row IV plays music when fired, and causes enemies to dance uncontrollably until they keel over dead.
  • Lucio from Overwatch has a gun that fires soundwaves that either damage enemies or pushes them aside. For his Ultimate ability, he uses it to generate temporary shields for his allies.
  • In the Ratchet & Clank series, the Groovitron is a weapon that's thrown like a grenade. Upon landing, a disco ball pops out, disco music plays, and every single enemy (including vehicles) are compelled to dance. One even gets used on the player during a later boss fight.
  • No Straight Roads: Vinyl City is powered by devices called Qwasas, which convert sound waves into electricity. The city's main source of power is the Grand Qwasa, a large device located in Festival Plaza, and artists regularly perform for it to power the city.
  • Warframe: The music-themed Warframe Octavia derives her power from the Mandachord, an instrument connected to her elbows that allows players to make their own custom songs, which then have impact on and are played when casting her abilities in missions. A massive, digital version of the Mandachord serves both as the arena and the key to defeating Hunhow in the Octavia's Anthem quest.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • There's an episode of Batman: The Animated Series which involves playing the beginning of "Ode To Joy" to unlock the secret room.
  • The girl's voice in Rock and Rule was significant to help Mok with his summoning spell.
  • A Disney Silly Symphonies short "Music Land" involved a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance between the children of rival kingdoms of anthropomorphic musical instruments. This ends up sparking a war where the queen of the Symphony Islands and the king of the Isle of Jazz fire their music as weapons at each others' kingdoms.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants special "Atlantis Squarepantis", the fact that the Atlanteans have evolved beyond petroleum fuels and use song to power their vehicles instead kicks off the Excuse Plot for the musical.
  • The lost city of Tinnabula from the two-part TaleSpin episode "For Whom the Bell Klangs".

    Real Life 
  • While not strictly musical, the principle behind acoustic refrigeration relies on resonating sound. The effect is something close to a real-life version of Maxwell's theoretical demon.
  • The Zeusaphone is essentially a Tesla coil that shoots lightning, tuned in such a way as to produce musical notes.
  • One of the earlier instances of hacking come from the discovery that toy flutes and whistles one could get in a cereal box can be used to manipulate the phone network. Because the machines were built to network by sound, "phone phreaks" as they were called could break in the system and make free long distance phone calls by playing specific, high frequency notes on slightly modified plastic toys.
  • On a related note, some older electronic components emit small bursts of electromagnetic radiation that can be picked up by nearby radio receivers. One probably couldn't use this to discern anything useful about what a computer was processing purely by ear, but people have successfully used these radio emissions to remotely view text being shown on a CRT screen. The process is known as Van Eck phreaking after Dutch computer science researcher Wim van Eck, who probably wasn't the first person to discover this phenomenon but was the first to publish an unclassified academic paper describing it in detail. (Much to the consternation of various intelligence agencies who were a) already aware of it and b) really hoping their rivals weren't.)