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Music / Carmina Burana

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Scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff between 1935 and 1936, based on a collection of medieval poems. Notably they had been put to music before but in Orff's time nobody could read medieval music notation. Now we can and suffice it to say, the original melodies are rather different from what Orff came up with. The piece lasts about an hour and has serious moments, goofy moments, and more than its share that are pure Narm. The lyrics cover all aspects of medieval life from sex, to drinking to the plight of sentient, talking roasted swans. If you've ever heard them and think that they don't sound a bit like a gambling garden party, you're right. As an unfortunate footnote, it remains the most famous piece of music to emerge from Nazi Germany.

It's the money part, "O Fortuna", that people remember, due to it being one of the the most famous examples of Ominous Latin Chanting as well as one of the most overused trailer songs in history, a Standard Snippet for whenever we want to suggest an Epic Movie. It's also a fine example of Canis Latinicus; not only is it in Medieval Latin, which differs greatly from the classical language, but it's also sung with what can best be described as a French accent, stressing the last syllables of each word. In proper Latin, the stress on each word is generally placed on the penultimate syllable, but that doesn't fit well into the music.


Carmina Burana can be used for a little bit of musical snobbery, distinguishing the people who recognize the work for what it isnote  from those who only know it as the music from The Omen (1976) (or Excalibur, or Die Hard 2) or indeed from the Old Spice TV advert for aftershave.note 

Often parodied.


Straight Examples:


  • "O Fortuna" was the backing music for the Old Spice aftershave advert, which ran in various forms form the 1960's to the 1990's and used the visual image of a surfer catching a wave. Some of the lesser known and more reflective themes from later in the piece accompanied unrelated adverts for products like bread, beer, and margarine; the rustic themes were shoo-ins to demonstrate the age-old purity and traditional values of the foodstuffs involved. Even marge.

Anime and Manga

  • Battle Angel Alita, despite being a non-audio medium, nonetheless quotes "O Fortuna" during Den's last charge.
  • The opening theme of Nazca uses the lyrics of "Omnia Sol Temperat" set to the melody of Johann Sebastian Bach's Little Fugue in G Minor.

Fan Works

  • A Crown of Stars: In chapter 57 a character tells the story of several squads of soldiers of his army that got "O Fortuna!" playing in the background as they performed a suicidal strike.
  • The Legend of Total Drama Island quotes in its entirety a translation of "In Taberna"note  singable to Orff's tune, to set the mood for the boot camp party.
    Half a million pounds would never
    Pay for all we drink together:
    For we drink beyond all measure,
    Purely for the sake of pleasure
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series uses it with a poster for Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's while mocking the concept of "Card Games on Motorbikes".


Live-Action TV

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Tom Servo's Theme Song is "O Fortuna" With Lyrics. Well, with different lyrics.
  • The X Factor
  • Conan O'Brien's Evil Puppy is just an adorable golden retriever puppy who appears while Carmina Burana plays.
  • Used to great effect in Only Fools and Horses to highlight Rodney's suspicions that Del's son Damien is the Antichrist.
  • Performed by an amateur symphony orchestra in Kinshasa, Congo, on a 2012 episode of 60 Minutes.
  • Glee uses this whenever Sue goes on a rampage.
  • An episode of How I Met Your Mother Season 9 has this when Marshall is about to slap slow motion.


  • American power/thrash metal band Iced Earth managed to adapt the tune in a way that freshened it up without losing any of the epic feeling in their song "Angels Holocaust".
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra has an arrangement of "O Fortuna" on their album "Night Castle".
  • Enigma's Screen Behind the Mirror album references "O Fortuna" in four of the songs, including "Gravity Of Love".
    • They also used "Omnia Sol Temperat" on their A Posteriori album.
  • Ministry's "No W" samples "O Fortuna" in its intro - or at least the version heard in the music video and the Rock Against Bush compilation does; the album version edits that section out, possibly for copyright reasons.
  • 30 Seconds to Mars used to play "O Fortuna" before they came out on stage (more than likely to evoke the same reaction it gets when it's played right before a sporting event). Used most commonly during touring in support of A Beautiful Lie and used infrequently since then to create some cheap heat amongst older fans and pump up the rest of the crowd.
  • The "definite" version might be the one by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle for the Frankfurt Opera, exuberant in Costume Porn, Scenery Porn. doing the music justice.

Professional Wrestling


  • Early in the second act of Leaving Iowa, Dad loses his temper at a slow-moving RV on the road. "O Fortuna" plays and the action slips into slow-motion as Dad reaches for the horn and honks ... while Mom is driving.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Used in the American Dad! episode "A Smith in the Hand", when Stan hears Francine coming to their room while he is masturbating and tries not to get caught in the act.

Real Life

  • Every live sports event ever, usually when the home team takes the field/court/ice/whatever.
  • Michael Jackson's Dangerous tour opened with a video montage set to this.



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