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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. 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 and Manga 


  • 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 
  • 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!"
  • 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.


    Video Games 
In the final Mission of Mass Effect 2, the score goes all out. First, there's the epic uplifting music during the space battle, then the score goes all out for the finale to bring the already awesome mission to a breathtaking close.
  • 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 Moment of Awesome as you beat the living crap out of splicers who seem to come out of Hammer Space. You'll be symphonizing 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:
  • In Senran Kagura, the Gessen girls' themes are arrangements of classical music:
    • Yumi: Requiem Mass in D minor, by Mozart and Piano Sonata No. 8 (Sonata Pathétique) by Beethoven for Shinovi Versus, and Requiem Mass in D minor (the Lacrimosa portion) and Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals (Aquarium) for Estival Versus.
    • Murakumo: Scythian Suite Op. 20 (Dance of the Pagan Monster), by Sergei Prokofiev.
    • Tozakura: Piano Sonata No. 14 (Moonlight Sonata), by Beethoven.
    • Shiki: The Four Seasons, by Vivaldi. Interestingly, "Shiki" literally means "Four Seasons".
    • Minori: The Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a, by Tchaikovsky (Specifically, "Russian Dance") for Shinovi Versus, and Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals for Estival Versus.
  • Splatoon 2 busts out the live orchestra for the final battle against DJ Octavio and a Brainwashed and Crazy Callie.
  • TinkerQuarry's battle music is an epic orchestral theme simply titled "Attacked".
  • Much of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's soundtrack is quiet and understated to fit the theme of you wandering a huge, mostly empty world all on your own. Whenever you're in combat (particularly with a boss monster), trying to shut down a Divine Beast, or especially storming Hyrule Castle, things get much more rousing.
  • Pikmin 3 uses orchestral music for particularly large-scale boss battles, a pretty sharp contrast from the lower-key, atmospheric themes heard in the rest of the game (and series).
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising, in just about every flight sequence and several land sequences as well. Boss fights lean more towards Autobots, Rock Out!, though.
  • Every single Star Fox game.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.

    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.