Follow TV Tropes

Following

Ominous Latin Chanting / Music

Go To

  • "Preliator" by Globus, like O Fortuna, is often found in advertising to mean "Get ready because this will be totally Awesome"
  • Slovenian Industrial band Laibach bypassed ominous, going straight to nightmare fuel unleaded with "Vade Retro Satanas" from their album Nova Akropola. "[1]"
  • German electronica band E Nomine uses a lot of Ominous Latin Chanting — with good results. Then they combine it with the guttural voice of a Chain-Smoking German to make it even more sinister. "Schwarze Sonne" is a perfect example of just how epic this trope can be.
  • Advertisement:
  • The song "Kann denn Liebe Sünde Sein" by the German metal band Eisbrecher has this in the beginning, but it's in German.
  • B-Movie sample pioneer Rob Zombie has used this technique in a couple songs, more notably in the White Zombie song "Super-Charger Heaven" (supposedly using a Latin excommunication trial).
  • Most power-metal albums, especially those with a fantasy theme. Any "Rhapsody" album starts off with a choir chanting ominous Latin gibberish.
    • "Lux Triumphans" from "Dawn Of Victory" is an excellent example of Ominous English Chanting.
  • While primarily instrumental, the band Nox Arcana employs vocal tracks on each of its albums. Almost all of those vocal tracks are in ominous Latin, as befits the band's name. Winter's Knight includes Gregorian hymns, which are neither intended nor played as ominous, but they have a somewhat spooky effect regardless. Necronomicon also has plenty of ill-boding chanting, but it's not in a human language. Blood of the Dragon is in the fantasy genre, not horror, but it still uses plenty of "O Fortuna"-inspired chanting throughout the album (particularly in the title track, where the influence is so obvious it's ridiculous). According to composer Joseph Vargo, most of the post-"Blood of the Dragon" albums contain pseudo-Latin Chanting.
  • Advertisement:
  • In the penultimate scene of Berlioz's La damnation de Faust, a male chorus chants in a made-up demonic language ("Ha! Irimiru Karabrao!") as Mephistopheles triumphantly brings Faust into Pandaemonium. The final scene is set in the other place, where a Cherubic Choir welcomes Marguerite.
  • Pink Floyd showed they were just as capable of this as anyone else, with the "Atom Heart Mother Suite." It's a tangled mess of steel guitar, cellos, a brass band, organ and a lot of chanting in made-up languages, varying from merely otherworldly to absolutely doom-laden. Bonus points for having both male and female choirs in one piece.
  • Puccini's Tosca, at the end of Act I, with the Latin prayers underscoring the nefarious schemes of corrupt chief of police and sexual predator Scarpia, though the prayers themselves culminate in the first lines of the Te Deum, which is usually considered more celebratory than ominous. More ominously, Spoletta mumbles a few lines from the "Dies Irae" during the torture scene in Act II.
  • Advertisement:
  • Puccini's Turandot (based on a Chinese fairytale) has the chorus (singing in Italian) playing the people of Beijing, reflecting the changing moods of the crowd, first as a frenzied mob screaming for blood, then cheering the Unknown Prince on as he successfully answers the princess' riddles, and pleading with slave-girl Liù, who has killed herself, to reveal the prince's name. Especially at the death of Liù, the sound of the chorus is chilling.
  • Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov has the chorus playing the Russian people. Many opera lovers consider the chorus to be one of the main characters, and they get their own curtain call. Their prayers, mob scenes, and laments, sung in Russian, sound spooky as well as heartrending, particularly at the death of Boris. At several points, some really ominous Latin chanting is heard.
  • The band Enigma combines Gregorian-esque chants with ethereal electronic sound effects. The album "The Screen Behind the Mirror" samples Carmina Burana — so much so that it could be said to be Carmina Burana with samples of Enigma. It was one of the few times where the original publishers sanctioned its use.
  • The band Gregorian plays covers of popular songs in a Gregorian-chant vocal style with modern instrumentation. There are a few of their songs which feature Ominous Latin Chanting including their cover of the inevitable "O Fortuna" and their original, "Gregorian Anthem".
  • While Swedish symphonic metal band Therion does not always implement Ominous Chanting into their songs, almost all of them have choirs singing in some capacity. They, too, have covered "O Fortuna". Other songs like "Seven Secrets of the Sphinx", "Via Nocturna", or "The Wondrous World Of Punt" may also fit this trope.
  • Although in English, AFI's "Miseria Cantare" tells you that Sing The Sorrow's plot (it is a concept album) is not going to have a happy ending. Yeah, the lyrics are nihilistic, but it is the background chorus and eerie music that show you the magnitude of the unhappy life the main character of the plot is going to have.
  • Brazilian power metal band Angra employed this in their song "Acid Rain", first to open the song, then to mark the passage from the bridge to the guitar solo.
  • "Warszawa" on the album Low, by David Bowie, has a long chanting sequence, made of Bowie overdubbing his own voice in several keys. Ominous, yes, and quite appropriately based on an old Polish composition, but the actual lyrics are gibberish.
  • Evanescence use it in the songs "Whisper" and "Lacrymosa," as well as the unreleased song "Anything for You." Whisper's lyrics translated are, "Save us from danger, save us from evil," and the other two are just from the "Lacrimosa" section of the Requiem mass.
  • Enya's Tempus Vernum is entirely Ominous Latin Chanting, which is essentially a list of pairs of opposites. ("Therefore, the earth and the stars. Therefore, the east and the west...")
    • Pax Deorum and Cursum Perficio. Enya seems to like this trope a lot.
    • She's also very fond of Gaelic (not surprising at all, given her musical and cultural background), and for Amarantine even developed an artificial language — complete with its own script — for those moments when neither Latin nor Gaelic met the dramatic requirements.
  • Power/thrash metal band Iced Earth has the 16-minute epic Dante's Inferno, based on, well, Dante's Inferno. It has sections of what sounds like this trope, although songwriter Jon Schaffer has admitted that it's just gibberish invented to sound evil. This chanting also shows up in the songs Damien (based on the movie The Omen) The Coming Curse, and Harbinger of Fate. Also in the middle of their song "Divide Devour" (Dies Natalis, Odisse, Mortalis).
    • Demons & Wizards also uses this: "Crimson King" starts with chanting choirs and "Chant," the outro on their first album is a (pseudo?) Gregorian chant that Hansi Kürsch made by multi-tracking his voice. For Hansi, the second album by his main band, Blind Guardian, opens with "Inquisition": Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem chanted repeatedly. (This is the same as the chanting in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) It's fairly relevant; the first song is about John the Baptist.
  • Inversion: "Orchestral metal" group Trans-Siberian Orchesta's rock opera Beethoven's Last Night features some chanting of this kind, but it's generally uplifting and set to a variation of Ode to Joy. The piece has the titular composer reflecting on his life and career, and how his music has affected the world.
    • The more traditional version makes its appearance in "Requiem (The Fifth)" from said rock opera, which, as its name implies, is a mash-up of Mozart's Requiem and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
  • AIM's Demonique combines, to wonderfully creepy effect, ominous chanting with dialogue from the movie "Halloween" and a trip-hop beat.
  • "O Fortuna". The piece has been popularly associated with Satanism ever since it was used in The Omen (1976).
    • Which this student of Latin finds saddening, because it's the most awesome piece of musical navel contemplation you will ever hear.note 
    • Also from Carmina Burana is "In taberna quando sumus", an Ominous Latin Drinking Song.
    • See a hilarious animated video with misheard lyrics here.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Dies Irae" from the Requiem gets almost as much play as "O Fortuna" in dramatic situations. Unlike most of the pieces on this page, though, it has the thematic weight to match its ominous tone when translated: the lyrics are describing the Apocalypse. In fact, the "Dies Irae" from practically any Requiem Mass qualifies by definition as this trope. Especially Verdi.
  • The original Dies Irae Gregorian chant is pretty freakin' spooky all on its own.
  • Adiemus, a classical piece by Karl Jenkins, isn't technically Latin (the composer invented all the "words" himself), but it's spine-tingling awesome.
    • His pieces containing real Latin chanting are even more ominous, like Dies Irae from Requiem or Sanctus from The Armed Man.
  • Deathspell Omega frequently incorporate chanting in Latin and other languages into their music, usually to hellish effect.
  • Check the E.S. Posthumus album Unearthed and you're less likely to find a song without this type of chanting. The reason behind their use of it is the fact that the songs are all about dead civilizations and ruined cities of the ancient world.
  • A Song For Europe by Roxy Music has Bryan Ferry repeating the song's last couplet in French, then in Latin.
  • The song "Sister of Charity" by Finnish Gothic-Rock band The 69 Eyes contains repeated usage of this trope, made even more ominous coupled with the deep bass voice of the singer. The Latin words translate to "Between hope and fear... Charity in war".
  • Some Latin chants are so well known in classical music that they can be quoted in an instrumental piece without the words being used. The most ominous of these chants is the Gregorian Dies Irae. Examples of its many uses appear in the Witches' Sabbath movement of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Camille Saint-Saëns's Danse macabre and third symphony, Sergei Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Franz Liszt's Totentanz. Or in "Making Christmas" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or as part of "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd".
  • Era, while very fond of the Latin Chanting, isn't usually Ominous. But then there's Enae Volare Mezzo, which is probably one of the sexiest sounding examples of this trope ever. There's also Ameno which manges to be genuinely ominous and creepy.
  • The French prog rock band Magma uses ominous chanting in many of their songs. They even made up their own language for it, called Kobian.
  • Our Solemn Hour by Within Temptation ("San-ctus Espiri-tus...").
  • Nightwish implements chanting in a few of their songs on their album Imaginaerum.
  • "Saltwater" by Chicane features ominous Gaelic chanting, sampled from the Theme Tune of Harry's Game.
    • "Four Seasons" by Blue Amazon also uses a Gaelic-sounding chant.
  • Epica has a whole album in which each features at least one verse with Ominous Latin Chanting.
    • All of their intros (with the exception of the largely instrumental "The Score: An Epic Journey") begin with Latin Chanting; some songs that feature ominous chanting are "Cry For the Moon" and "The Phantom Agony" (Ominous English Chanting) and "The Divine Conspiracy" (Ominous Latin Chanting). "Seif Al Din" may feature Ominous Arabic Chanting.
  • As mentioned in The Matrix entry above, the Juno Reactor songs "Mona Lisa Overdrive"(Kyrie Eleison) and "Navras"(ominous Sanskrit chanting).
  • Starflyer 59's "Underneath" and "First Heart Attack" (the first and last track from the album ''Old') feature sampled, wordless chanting, courtesy of Richard Swift's mellotron.
  • "Memories in a Sea of Forgetfulness" by BT uses (not so ominous) Arabic/Muslim chanting, which sounds like the Adhan prayer call. Also, "Firewater" has the Muslim chant "La illah illa Allah" ("I bear witness to no god but Allah").
  • "Scorched Blood" by Xorcist has this.
  • Vangelis has used the ominous singing, more often sounding closer to Greek but can evoke Latin and sometimes other languages (like Egyptian Arabic in one of the Blade Runner cues, courtesy of one-time bandmate Demis Roussos). Examples of this includes Heaven and Hell, Mask, his soundtrack to 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Voices, his various El Greco works and Mythodea
    • There's even a moment when baby sounds are used ... "Message" from Direct
  • Parodied with the mashup "Crank Dat One Winged Angel"[2], by Valley of Walls. Soulja Boy + One Winged Angel = the most sinister rap jam you've ever heard.
  • Ominous German Chanting, admittedly. Halber Mensch by Einsturzende Neubauten. Very awesome. Very creepy.
  • Iron Maiden's "Sign of the Cross", based on The Name of the Rose (a work full of priests) opens with one.
  • Thenote  operetta Candide accompanies an attack on the hero's home with a new Gregorian chant, which takes some liberties with Catholic doctrine. The chant include the phrase "Agnus Dei, Ora Pro Nobis" ("Lamb of God, pray for us"), which traditional Catholics would consider heretical.note 
    • The chant was written for the 1970s revival using the music of a pre-existing song, "It Must Be So." Most productions use the instrumental "Battle Music" instead.
  • Symphonic Metal band Tristania uses this a lot, along with Soprano and Gravel, with fairly epic-sounding effects. The song "Wormwood" uses a passage from Carmina Burana
    • As do Morten's side projects Sirenia and Mortemia. "The Mind Maelstrom" is essentially a praise chorus to Ominous Latin Chanting while Mortemia is strictly Morten's death grunts and Latin chanting— His formula is demonstrated well in "The Malice Of Life's Cruel Ways".
  • The 1965 Yardbirds B-side "Still I'm Sad" features wordless ominous chanting of the same melody to which Keith Relf sings the lyrics.
  • Most of the songs by Audiomachine are like that and can be heard in numerous film trailers.
  • Most of the songs by Two Steps from Hell contain epic chanting set to a driving, orchestral soundtrack suitable for battle scenes, for example Nemesis, Flameheart, and Freedom Fighters (used in a trailer for J.J. Abram's Star Trek (2009)), although it's hard to make out the exact words.
  • Enigma's song, "Gravity Of Love," uses "O Fortuna" to great effect at the start of the song.
  • Gekkakou by Versailles has a bridge supposedly in Latin, when it is in fact a list of spells from ''Harry Potter''. Somewhat justified in that the spells themselves mostly consist of Canis Latinicus, but are still shoved in there to sound cool.
  • Apoptygma Berzerk originally used a sample of Carmina Burana on the track "Love Never Dies: Part One."
  • Funker Vogt often uses ominous English, German, and non-lyrical chanting.
  • Carmina Burana itself. Originally it was a collection of medieval poems and songs, usually written by students and dealing with such topics as drinking, revelry, love and morality. Carl Orff, who composed the music in 1935 most likely thought that medieval texts in Latin must be definitely ominous, so he created famous and extremely dramatic score. 'O Fortuna!' ('Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi') is actually pretty mellow poem about waxing and waning whims of Fortune, clearly inspired by stoic poetry of Marcus Aurelius. If you know Latin, the dissonance between Orff's score and bawdier lyrics is outright hilarious.
    • The original Carmina Burana was written by vagant monks, more into the business of drinking and women than anything else. Most of the chanting was in Latin, but the topics were anything but ominous.
  • Paid tribute to in Gowan's "(You're A) Strange Animal" during the final chorus, where Gowan belts out "Oh, Ominous Spiritus!" in a decidedly non-ominous, non-chanting way.
  • Omnis Mundi Creatura by Helium Vola is very ominous, and the creepy synths in the background only make it scarier.
  • Black Metal has a lot of examples of this trope. Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' title track is probably the most famous example.
  • Meat Loaf uses this in his album "Bat Out of Hell 3: The Monster is Loose". It is in Spanish, not Latin, but still ominous.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach has both Latin and German examples in his vocal works.
    • The St. Matthew Passion contains an example of Ominous German Chanting that doubles as a Song Style Shift. The movement "So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen" starts out as a fairly traditional duet, with occasional interjections of the choir. After the duet ends, the movement immediately turns into an incredibly angry-sounding chorus with such lyrics as "Open the fiery abyss, o Hell, crush, destroy, devour, smash with sudden rage the false betrayer, the murderous blood!"
    • The motet Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 227) contains Ominous German Chanting as well - this example is more forceful than the previous, with a strong emphasis on the word "Trost" (Defiance).
    • Bach's B Minor Mass, while mostly positive in tone, has a bit of strong and dramatic Greek at the very beginning of the work, with an ominous chanting of "Kyrie eleison!"
    • Bach's Magnificat also has ominous Latin in the movement "Omnes generationes".
  • A Soviet rock opera Juno and Avos uses Ominous Church Slavonic Chanting for the same effect. Opera also features an actual Latin chanting, but surprisingly it's not ominous at all.
  • Sunn O)))'s Monoliths and Dimensions album has guttural Hungarian chanting courtesy of Attila Csihar, as well as traditional church choir on the aptly named "Big Church".
  • Akiko Shikata loves to use this in her more epic songs, her privileged languages being Italian and Greek it seems. A good example is Umineko no Naku Koro ni, among others (the Italian here being about the greatness and cruelty of the witch Beatrice).
  • While the effect is more epic than ominous, Sakanaction's song "Aoi" features Ominous Japanese Chanting in the verses.
  • The group Mecano has an ominous Latin chant at the end of their song "No es Serio este Cementerio" (This is not a Serious Cemetery"). It says "Finis gloriæ mvndi homini"("The end of the glory of the world of men").
  • The Stooges use Ominous chanting during "We Will Fall" from their Self-Titled Album The Stooges.
  • The Cruxshadows use gibberish chanting in "Into the Ether", the opening track of Ethernaut.
  • Composer György Ligeti practically defines this trope, writing such pieces as the "Kyrie" and "Lux Aeterna." If you're not familiar with his name, he's the guy who wrote most of the eerie parts of the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack.
  • The Fun Boy Three's self-titled debut has an Album Intro Track consisting of 1:22 of them and Bananarama chanting ominously in Latin.
  • Daniel Amos's album Horrendous Disc ends with about a minute of wordless, ominous chanting, over dirge-like backing music.
  • Gloryhammer's second album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards has the lines "Sanctus! Dominus! Infernus! Ad Astra!" repeated at the start of the song "Rise of the Chaos Wizards". Roughly translated it means "Holy God! Universe on fire!" "Universe on fire" is the title of a later track on the album.
  • Nordic/Scandinavian music tends to have a lot of chanting and choirs in it.
  • The beginning of "Ich seh die Schiffe herunterfahren" by German punk band Abwärts...although it might also be in Tokelau for no difference.
Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report