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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. Due to the feeling of epicness such music gives off, it is often reserved for the Final Battle/Final Boss; you are far less likely to hear it used for the Warmup Boss.

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. The Just After Ten past Six Overture is still played on the Disc - but very carefully.
  • 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 — Animated 
  • 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.
  • The War to End All Wars – The Movie: In several of the film's battle scenes, gunfire and artillery shots are timed to the drumbeats of the song in question.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Several examples from Starship Troopers, most notably Klendathu Drop, from the scene where the Fleet and the Mobile Infantry launch their first assault on Klendathu.
  • Star Trek examples:
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture gives us the Klingon theme in its opening scene ("Klingon Battle") contributed by Jerry Goldsmith. V'Ger's theme, played on an instrument called the Blaster Beam, also features in the same scene.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has both the new Trek theme by James Horner, along with Khan's, both of which come to a head in "Surprise Attack" and "Battle in the Mutara Nebula''.
    • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock reprises the theme from the last movie and features the new, percussion-heavy Klingon theme by James Horner, which would return for a Moment of Awesome in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector".
    • Averted in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home which features no aerial or space battles, and no shots fired in anger. Besides, the music by Leonard Rosenmann was decidedly Lighter and Softer.
    • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, for all its faults, has the return of Jerry Goldsmith and his Klingon theme, with the screech of a real Bird-of-Prey mixed in, mainly heard in the track "With Out Help".
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country brings Cliff Eidelman, who contributes yet another Klingon theme, which provides the score for "The Battle For Peace", where the crew of the Enterprise frantically try to stop a conspiracy from destroying the last hope for universal peace.
    • Star Trek: First Contact has "Red Alert", where the Federation fleet takes on a Borg Cube headed straight for Earth. Jerry Goldsmith reprises his Klingon theme as Worf's Leitmotif.
    • Generations calls extra attention to the score as the scenes repeatedly shift between barely audible soft music as Picard tries to sneak into Soran's work area on the surface, and the blaring battle music as the Enterprise battles the Klingons in space, and the resulting crash landing due to damage.

  • 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.

    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):


"In the Hall of the Mountain K

The soundtrack in general is praised by the players, but the track that stands out the most is, as expected, the game's rendition of the classical piece "In the Hall of the Mountain King", which is heard only in the final boss fight against none other than the titular Mountain King himself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrchestralBombing

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