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Orchestral Bombing

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"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."
Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler, on Demolition Man for the 3DO

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, and Classical Music Is Cool. 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. Has no relation to Explosive Instrumentation.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • Parodied in the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, when it is revealed that a long-ago Quirmian general, when he got round to launching an invasion of Far Überwald shortly after ten past six one evening, took an orchestral composer with him to chronicle the glorious invasion in music. Public performances of this piece were generally very lively indeed, until the percussion sections realised it was perhaps best not to load the siege weapons and to only charge the Barking Dogs with blank rounds. One conductor lamented the slaughter and destruction done to lots of expensive and hard-to-replace musical instruments during one early performance, when the technical problems of the production were still being ironed out.
  • Contact at Kobol has an has an Invoked version, in which the Tau'ri set a propaganda video of their bombings to the 1812 overture and send it to the Colonial brass. Except that the last bombing is a live missile feed of the Colonial government's secret bunker.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Farscape: The destruction of Scorpius' command carrier featured orchestral music and Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • 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. A long sketch on a recorded comedy album, Monty Python's Matching Tie and Hanky, builds on the TV sketch and escalates it into all-out insurrection causing a major air force to be sent in to bomb the orchestra into submission.
  • Mythbusters recently had some fun with this trope in their Top 25 Special showing off their various explosions to the 1812 Overture.
  • 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 was 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 that Rick Berman hated this trope, and wanted the music to be strictly part of the background of the show, like wallpaper.

  • The 1812 Overture itself! To quote Calvin and Hobbes:
    "Gee, and I thought classical music was boring!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Recorded Comedy 
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus develops a sight-gag TV sketch into a longer piece on a recorded comedy album, Monty Python's Matching Tie and Hanky. This builds on the theme of a TV sketch and escalates it into all-out insurrection causing a major air force to be sent in to bomb the orchestra into submission. The sketch is based on a typical somewhat stuffy and highbrow Radio Three presentation of an orchestral concert. It involves a prima donna violinist who persists in doing to his instrument - and other people's instruments - what Peter Townsend did to guitars. Then the violence starts to cascade as the Radio Three announcer (Michael Palin) dutifully commentates.


    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Castlevania (2017) does this with the second season's siege on Dracula's castle. For bonus points, the theme used is an orchestral arrangement of "Bloody Tears" from the games.
  • 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.
  • Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave does this with the porridge shooting run, as an homage to films like The Dam Busters.

    Real Life 
  • During the first BLACK BUCK mission during the Falklands War, one of the crew of the Vulcan wondered where the orchestra was. They did play the theme from Chariots of Fire on the way home.


Video Example(s):


Ludwig the Holy Blade

Once Ludwig regains his sanity and musters the full power of his beast form with the help of the Moonlight Blade, the orchestra blooms into an even more intense piece, with the chorus violently lashing out as you're forced to dodge the boss' flurries of sword beams.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrchestralBombing

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