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Ennio Morricone Pastiche

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A popular Stock Parody in the field of soundtracks. A scene depicting cowboys or just a character posing as a badass or facing a potential threat is accompanied by music similar to Ennio Morricone's score for the spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Leone. Usually the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is quoted ("ayiayiaaaay") or the harmonica theme from Once Upon a Time in the West.

Typical features include, but are not limited to:

  • A strong focus on string instruments, especially the electric guitar.
  • Similarly, brass, especially the trumpet.
  • Whistling is practically a signature feature in any Morricone pastiche.
  • Sound effects baked into the soundtrack, primarily ones that hail from westerns (ex. gunshots, a whipcrack, a rattlesnake's rattle, etc.)
  • If characters are having a Showdown at High Noon, expect to hear church bells somewhere in the music.
  • The beat typically has a galloping rhythm, akin to a horse's gallop.

Also popular whenever a parody of Clint Eastwood is shown.

Compare Showdown at High Noon.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop: "Go Go Cactus Man!", the leitmotif of Cowboy Andy from the episode "Cowboy Funk", is a pretty blatant homage to the theme from For a Few Dollars More.
  • Lupin III: "Tornado", a recurring theme of Daisuke Jigen, has a very Morricone feel to it. The character's concept was inspired by gangster and western flicks.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team: Murdock once dressed up as a cowboy, while Morricone style music was playing.
  • Used in an episode of Bassie & Adriaan: "Het Geheim van de Sleutel", when they are visiting Spain.
  • The Doctor Who Series 9 episode "Hell Bent" has the Twelfth Doctor returning to Gallifrey, in order to settle some old scores. Not only do several scenes invoke Spaghetti Western tropes, but Murray Gold's score for the ep includes a new arrangement of "The Doctor's Theme" (used originally for the Ninth Doctor). Said new arrangement has "Morricone" written all over it.
  • The theme song for the Star Wars streaming series The Mandalorian is a homage to the style, with some Space Western vibes sprinkled on top. Have a listen.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Whistled by the show's hosts while watching "Gamera Vs. Barugon", "The Crawling Hand", "The Crawling Eye", "The Atomic Brain", "Village Of The Giants", "12ToMoon", "Last Of The Wild Horses", "It Conquered The World", "Overdrawn At The Memory Bank" and "The Sidehackers".

  • Broken Bells' "Mongrel Heart" contains a very Morricone-like midsection. The band themselves admitted they went a bit over-the-top with it, but said it would have been a shame to leave it on the cutting room floor:
    "It's not like we're trying to hide that it's this Morricone feel to it. I would hate to have not had it on there and then been, like, oh, but you've got to hear the version that had the horn on it. It was just over the top and crazy. So we just left it."
  • Dead Kennedys use horn and guitar on their album Frankenchrist to create a Morriconesque feel.
  • Seminal Post-Rock act Godspeed You! Black Emperor have done this quite a few times, with one of their earliest examples being fittingly named "The Cowboy". Another early example is "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill". Their latest album (as of 2020), "Luciferian Towers", also has examples with "Bosses Hang" and the second half of "Anthem for No State".
  • Gorillaz: Tuco's leitmotif is quoted at the start of the song "Clint Eastwood", from Gorillaz.
  • Havalina Rail Co. have the Morricone-inspired song "Dark Skies" on their Genre Roulette album America. The liner notes have brief explanations for each song, and the one for "Dark Skies" just reads:
    The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is one of the finest westerns ever made. I think westerns have had a huge influence on him.
  • Jonny & The Baptists' Edinburgh Fringe song about Clint Eastwood's speech at the 2012 National Republican Convention starts out like this, before suddenly seguing into the theme from Rawhide.
  • German Progressive Black Metal band Nagelfar's song "Meuterei" ("Mutiny") is essentially an attempt to answer the question, "What if Morricone wrote a black metal song?" It's got all the requisite elements: the dramatic Old West-style acoustic guitar, the horns, the dramatic chanted vocals. And it is awesome.
  • Ministry's "Happy Dust" - an instrumental featuring a galloping rhythm, clean electric guitars, and synthesized brass. It was used as intro/outro music for a tour, and later saw official release as a B-Side.
  • Muse's "Knights of Cydonia" sounds as though Matt Bellamy read this article while composing it in order to make sure it contained as many necessary elements as would fit. Focus on guitar? Check. Trumpets? Check. Sound effects from Westerns? Check. Galloping rhythm? That's a big check. Just in case you didn't get it, live versions since 2008 have contained a quote from "L'uomo dell'armonica" ("The Man with a Harmonica") from Once Upon a Time in the West (although the song's main melody seems more inspired by the main theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).
  • Played for Drama in Poets of the Fall's "The Ballad of Jeremiah Peacekeeper" a Western inspired tale about an implicitly Messianic, Reluctant Warrior lawman that borrows Morricone's tone.
  • Sabaton’s song "To Hell And Back" (the one about Audie Murphy) features Morricone-style whistles.
  • Secret Chiefs 3 took their already western-sounding song "The Exile" and rearranged it with heavy guitars to sound more Morricone-ish, retitling the result "The Western Exile". They also had an unintentional example with "Book T: Exodus"—Trey Spruance took Ernest Gold's main theme from Exodus (1960) and rearranged it for "surf band and orchestra". Many, many reviewers thought the result sounded a lot like Morricone.
  • Norwegian group Vazelina Bilopphøggers use Blondie's theme in their song "Duellen i La"
  • "The Big Gundown" (1985) by John Zorn reinvents several movie soundtracks for which Ennio Morricone wrote the scores.

  • Bleak Expectations: When Pip Bin gets drawn into a showdown at high noon in America (well, half-past nine, actually), the ambient noises around him soon start turning into an a-capella version of the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • The Cinema Snob: Near the end of his review of "Ricky-Oh: The Story of Ricky" Brad decides to fight against Kung Tai Ted. After defeating him he walks off triumphantly while carrying his gun, as the music quotes the theme from A Fistful of Dollars.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: Done in his anniversary video "Battle of Epic Proportions".
  • Red vs. Blue’s soundtrack is practically a love letter to Ennio Moricone, but special mention goes to Temple’s (unreleased) theme in Season 15. It’s textbook Morricone, but with a twist in that the instruments are all bass registers. Switch the bass for a guitar and the tuba for a trumpet and you’ve got yourself a perfect match

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Brush With Greatness" Homer walks towards the weight scale while the soundtrack quotes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • Mr. Bergstrom in "Lisa's Substitute" walks in the classroom dressed as a cowboy, accompanied by similar music.
    • "The Front": When Grandpa dreams about the Old West similar music is heard.
    • "Homer Loves Flanders": Flanders whistles the music during a dream sequence.
    • In the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" similar music is heard when Homer returns for revenge after being ridiculed by Chief Wiggum for trying to eat extremely hot chili.
    • "The Lastest Gun In The West"
    • "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story": Spoofs the Mexican standoff scene from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" with spoofing ominous music.
    • "All Singing, All Dancing": The Show Within a Show "Paint Your Wagon" starts with Clint Eastwood entering a small desert town, accompanied by guitar and whistling... before switching to an upbeat Crowd Song about painting his wagon (The movie is real, and it really was a musical starring Clint Eastwood, but the song itself was an original work).
  • Thomas & Friends: In some episodes between Seasons 3 and 7, there is a music cue for when something is about to go wrong or there is a standoff between two characters. It sounds like something out of the Dollars Trilogy.


Video Example(s):


Showdown on a star

A Morricone-esque track plays as the cast stares each other down in a Mexican Standoff during the Final Battle.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / EnnioMorriconePastiche

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