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Dun... dun... dun... DUH-DUN!

Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) is a tone poem composed by Richard Strauss in 1896 (named after the book by Friedrich Nietzsche). The melody of the "Sunrise" movement is undeniably epic, complete with a spectacular use of Dramatic Timpani, so it's a perfect way to tell the audience, "This is where you're supposed to be impressed."

Stanley Kubrick certainly thought so, and used Also sprach Zarathustra as a leitmotif for several key scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It worked. In fact, it worked so well that these days the composition is better known as "that song from 2001" than by its own name.note  Likewise, most people will probably only recognize the first minute and a half; the entire piece is about half an hour. Interestingly enough, "The Blue Danube" (composed by that other famous Strauss) has been strongly associated with 2001 for different, more comedic reasons.

Consequently, usage of the composition as a Standard Snippet seem to have been eclipsed by its usage as an Homage or Affectionate Parody of 2001.. It's also far more likely to emphasize something painfully mundane than to be used straight. (Arguably, the only place it's been used straight since 2001 was in its sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact — and arguably the British Airways television advert. Also see The Monolith.)

Compare "Ride of the Valkyries".

Any resemblance to The Three Stooges' "Hello... hello... hello! Hello," is probably coincidental.

This music has appeared in:

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  • "In the beginning, there was one. Now there's two — Barqtoos II!" They had to up the tempo a bit in accordance with the short attention span expected of ad viewers.
  • Used in a radio ad for a hardware store in Montreal.
  • Verizon and Rogers commercials tend to use this as well.
  • A pizza commercial (if he recalls) had the surrounding family playing this while opening the pizza box. The Stinger had this pun:
    Mother: No oboes on the table.
    *twin daughters lower oboes to the floor*
  • Used for Master Builders Australia radio advertisements.
  • An iconic version of the song by Deodato was used in an ad for the Hummer H3 SUV. The fanfare comes when the vehicle executes a successful parallel-parking maneuver.

    Fan Works 
  • PONIES The Anthology II has, as its last sequence, 2012: A Pony Odyssey. It uses Also sprach Zarathustra in pony-version recreations of scenes from the movie.
    • The piece also syncs surprisingly well with a segment of the episode Cutie Mark Chronicles.
  • Parodied in Rocketship Voyager. B'Elanna Torres is going over a playlist of space-themed music and wonders what Friedrich Nietzsche's ramblings have to do with Outer Space (the story is ostensibly a sci-fi pulp written in 1954, well before 2001 was made).

  • As mentioned above, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the Trope Codifier. It's particularly amusing to note that the most dramatic part of the score is not for the title or the on-screen vista, but for the appearance of Kubrick's name.
    • Its use in 2001 is rather apropos. The main theme of Nietzsche's book was the "Übermensch", which was what Dave Bowman becomes when this music plays at the end of the film.
    • It appears again in 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
  • In For All Mankind, a documentary about the Apollo moon missions, an astronaut plays Also sprach Zarathustra on a cassette player, and he gives a Shout-Out to 2001.
  • In Catch-22, it is used to properly introduce a hot Italian chick.
  • Used in WALL•E, when the Captain becomes the first human in centuries to stand up. They originally put the score in as a joke, but test audiences cheered, so they left it in. Fitting seeing as AUTO was based off of HAL, right down to the red light eye.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, complete with a giant bar of chocolate of similar dimensions taking the place of The Monolith.
  • Danny Elfman's score for Tim Burton's Batman (1989) has some musical Shout-Outs here and there, perhaps most obviously at the very end of the film, just before everything fades to black. Those three notes that play as Batman is standing on the cathedral roof looking out at the Bat-Signal may not have been intended to evoke Also sprach Zarathrustra, but it sure sounded like Elfman was trying.
  • In the Buzz Lightyear videogame at the beginning of Toy Story 2, the hover-platforms over the bottomless chasm play this melody as Buzz leaps across them. Which fall immediately after the melody is finished.
  • Disney's My Favorite Martian uses this for the scene where a shrunken Martin and Tim find themselves in a toilet and almost get defecated upon by a fat man who ate four burritos. The most dramatic part of the music plays when the light gets blocked by the guy's offscreen butt and the two protagonists frantically deshrink.
  • Used in Magnolia to introduce Tom Cruise's character. In this case, it is diegetic sound, chosen by his pompous character.
  • Zoolander used it in comedy homage to 2001 when Derek and Hansel were trying to figure out how to turn on Mugatu's computer. As the computer's workings confound them, their behavior grows increasingly ape-like, culminating in Hansel grabbing an appropriately-shaped bone that just happened to be nearby to smash the machine.
  • Being There: Slight variation, with Deodato's funk-jazz version of Also sprach Zarathustra playing on the soundtrack as Chance makes his first journey into the city.
    • May possibly double as a subtle Actor Allusion hearkening back to Sellers' arguably most famous role(s) in Dr. Strangelove, directed by Mr. Stanley '2001' Kubrick himself.
  • Parodied in Spaceballs (of course): "Spaceball One has become... [cut to kettle-drum player, who plays the obligatory measures] Mega Maid"
  • Parodied in Hot Stuff. Briefly, the movie is about a police sting operation, focusing on capturing thieves. The police involved in the actual sting set up a pawnshop, and due to a distinct lack of support from their department supervisors, have to bankroll the operation by actually selling some of the items people have sold them. The theme comes about halfway through, when the police captain demands to see what they've actually accomplished with their 'little scheme', and they take him into the rear warehouse... which is stacked ten feet high with stolen goods and a crowing rooster, for some reason.
  • In Man on the Moon, Andy Kaufman's on-stage transformation from "Foreign Man" into a seriously good Elvis Presley impersonation was accompanied by this music.
  • Used in Ghostbusters II, when they turn on the proton packs for the first time in years. Lampshaded by having the characters sing it themselves.
  • Used in Clueless, with a phone standing in for the monolith, when Cher is waiting for Christian to call her.
  • Used, possibly as a parody, in Turner and Hooch to introduce the titular dog. Suitably hilarious.
  • Parodied near the beginning of History of the World Part I (1981).
  • Used early on in Planet 51 when Charles Baker touches down from his spacecraft. He even hums it. And then he steps on a rubber ducky...
  • Used in Casino as the the theme of a flamboyant Show Within a Show and as an element of a Gilligan Cut made after the protagonist is asked for discretion.
  • In the film The Big Bus, when the nuclear powered bus is first rolled out of the garage onto the parking lot for the press to see, the beginning of this composition is played.
  • Interstellar: Certain parts of the main theme have strings of the climax of the sunrise portion of the song.
  • Superman: The Movie: The ending of the Krypton theme ends similar to this.
  • Given that the teaser trailer for Barbie (2023) parodies the Stone Age sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, it only makes sense for the music to accompany it.
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once: The Zarathustra theme can be heard, being played very off-key and off-beat to highlight the absurdity of the situation, in the Cutaway Gag showing the origins of the hot dog fingers universe.

  • Richard Dawkins once put together the Blind Watchmaker program as a sort of Cliff Notes evolution synthesizer. According to the book The Blind Watchmaker, when he began producing little monochrome 2D insects instead of the trees that were all he'd been expecting, he immediately thought of this music.
  • Lampshaded in A Quantum Murder by Peter F. Hamilton. Event Horizon is rolling out Britain's first Space Plane in front of the assembled press, whereupon ...somewhat predictably, a band struck up the Zarathustra theme.
  • In Resurrected Angels: Rebirth the first three notes become the key to summoning a Flaming Sword or Royal Rapier depending on the scenario. Since this is Archangel Gabriel who's summoning the sword, this is the musical equivalent to a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done in Monty Python's Flying Circus as a animation by Terry Gilliam in which Earth arises from behind the moon in a parody of a similar scene of 2001. The Earth is then kicked away like a soccer ball.
  • Also sprach Zarathustra plays in the stereo in The Big Bang Theory when the nerds hook up their home electronics online. They proceed to Rock Out to it.
  • Doctors used it when Karen, who had been making efforts to eat healthily, finally snapped and tucked into a burger at a Greasy Spoon cafe.
  • In Frasier Roz suggests using it in her space documentary, Frasier suggests a different tune saying Also sprach Zarathustra is too commonplace or a bit on the nose as Frasier puts it.
  • In Misfits, a jazzy version by Deodato plays when Nathan tries to swing himself off the meat hook. It doesn't work.
  • This piece was used in a montage of clips on America's Funniest Home Videos of babies and toddlers being spoonfed.
  • Sesame Street: The opening part of the song plays in the Season 37 premiere, when Abby Cadabby gets her first look at Snuffy.
  • Appears in Stargate Universe. Volker tells Brody that it's his favorite piece of music. It is later played as Volker prepares to undergo a kidney transplant - Brody played it to comfort him. He turns it off when he realizes it really isn't comforting.
  • The jingle accompanying Viacom's "V of Doom" Vanity Plate somewhat resembles it, and the logo itself echoes The Monolith.
  • A number of the musical themes in Power Rangers Time Force borrow from Also sprach Zarathustra. Notably, it's the only Power Rangers series to have been nominated for an Emmy... for sound editing.
  • One Foot in the Grave. Victor is unpacking a new fridge, which is presented in Hitler Cam as the Monolith, surrounded by the styrofoam formers looking like bones. Cue ASZ playing as a Slow Motion Victor smashes up the formers with a distinctly ape-like demeanor.
  • This is one of the pieces Jon Stewart put the memetic campaign ad for Mitch McConnell to0000000000000000000.
  • Used in the first episode of Faerie Tale Theatre.
  • The Art Fleming edition of Jeopardy! used Also sprach Zarathustra at the conclusion of their 2000th NBC show as their next show would of course be no. 2001.
  • Joel recommends playing this song for your unborn child using his invention the Womb-Mate in Mystery Science Theater 3000, although he butchered the title into "Thus Spoke Zatharatu".
  • Russians will know it from the trivia show What? Where? When?
  • Parodied in the first two series of Red Dwarf: The opening theme is a bombastic orchestral piece that the subtitles even compare to 2001, but it's actually a slowed-down version of the show's closing credits theme.

  • Ray Stevens' "Thus Cacked Henrietta" is this song done entirely in chicken clucks.
  • There is a version by the Portsmouth Sinfonia.
  • Rush used it as their intro tape during their tours for Counterparts and Test For Echo.
  • On at least one of her tours, Jann Arden would be backed by musicians from the orchestra of the city she was currently playing in. When she'd introduce them with her trademark humourous banter, she'd always ask the timpani player "can you play the '2001' theme on those things? Well of course you can, what else are they good for?"
  • Dream Theater used it for intro music in at least one of their live shows, such as several gigs of the "Chaos In Motion" (the promotional tour for Systematic Chaos) tour.
  • Similarly, Green Day used this as intro music during their 2005 American Idiot tour.
  • And let's not forget about the man who predated them all: Elvis Presley, who used it as his entrance music starting around 1972.
  • The motif is inserted into Doctor Steel's song "Spaceboy."
  • Brazilian keyboardist Eumir Deodato (who just credited himself as "Deodato") had a huge hit in 1973 with with a funked up and jazzed up version of this, essentially sampling the orchestral parts of the original piece over a rhythmic bed provided by his electric piano and rhythm section. It's been used for the some of the examples on this page.
  • In 1998, Blackout did a dance remix titled "Gotta Have Hope"
  • In 2001 Weirdo and Captain Tinrib made a hard trance remix.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ric Flair has been using this as his entrance music since the late 1970s.
    • Causing wrestling fans to have the urge to shout "WOOOOOOOOOOO!" every time they hear this song in any medium.
    • During Flair's 1991-1993 run in the WWF, some DVD releases of shows from the mid-2000s, and some video games a Suspiciously Similar Song was used.
    • Ric Flair's daughter Ashley (better known in WWE as Charlotte Flair) uses a techno style remix that incorporates the most famous measures of the piece.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Sandstone Hyren in Magi-Nation uses what is unmistakably an onomotopoeic version of the song as flavor text. Also, the card itself does have an ability called "Monolith..."


    Video Games 
  • The Commodore 64 game Sentinel from Synapse Software has it as the title music. The game itself is set in space, being a Star Raiders clone.
  • Spore: At the end of the Creature stage, your creature gains sentience, and a general parody of the entire scene from 2001 occurs (although the stick falls back down and hits your creature on the head)
  • Final Fantasy VI: A similar theme accompanies the final boss as he descends from the heavens.
    • The same music also plays at the title screen.
  • The opening cutscene in Startopia, being a parody of the first minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (for example, there's a donut in the monolith), has a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Also sprach Zarathustra.
  • It is also the subtitle of the third Xenosaga game. Ironically, the Song itself doesn't appear in the game.
  • Reese Worthington hums the tune in Backyard Skateboarding.
  • Used in the eighth mission of Army Men RTS, substituting a standing PS2 for The Monolith. To the Army Men, it's the equivalent of an infinite power source.
  • It plays in Civilization II, when the player gets the space ending.
  • Little Big Planet 2 as a funk remix of ASZ done by the Daniel Pemberton TV Orchestra.
  • The source mod Shotgun Sunrise uses this when lowering a keg of booze you need to retrieve.
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People's Teen Girl Squad minigame in the second episode, the unlockable "alien" card will result in this exchange if executed at the right time:
    Narrator Strong Bad: (to the tune of Also sprach Zarathustra) Deeeead, deeeead, deeead, DEAD-DEEEAD! Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead...
    (A monolith falls on the girl you chose)
    Teen Girl: So artistic and boring!
  • Parodied at the beginning of Saints Row: The Third, where it plays alongside a Star Wars-esque Opening Scroll.
  • The cutscene that plays after using the Fan Thing Sticker in Paper Mario: Sticker Star has music almost identical to Also sprach Zarathustra.
  • Space Quest (VGA) uses this when Roger meet the alien hologram, and again in Space Quest V when the SCS Eureka picks up trash from various planets.
  • Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim has a similar-sounding piece when the monolith-like Ark rises from the ocean.
  • When you view the credits in EA Sports' NHL 2001, a remixed version of the song is played in the background- perhaps in reference to the year in the game's title.
  • Forza Horizon 3 has Also sprach Zarathustra in its soundtrack as part of its classical music station Timeless FM. It also plays during a Bucket List challenge where players drive a Koenigsegg One:1 down an airport runway at sunrise to hit a top speed past a speed trap.
  • Gran Turismo 4 plays the "Sunrise" fanfare when you win a Gold prize in a License Test.
  • It is played in Azur Lane during specific events, generally ones associated with the German based Ironblood division.
  • Trombone Champ, a rhythm parody game, has the "Sunrise" fanfare as part of its royalty-free soundtrack, but its accompanying lyrics are just the phrase "Also Sprach Zarathustra" being repeated.

  • Parodied in Questionable Content: Hannelore mentions one of the big drawbacks of living in a space station is having to listen to Also sprach Zarathustra every time the sun rises.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Used in the The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The World". The first skit is a recreation of the space opening of Film/2001ASpaceOdyssey. With the Moon and Earth singing the song. They apparently do this every morning to the Sun's annoyance.
    The Sun: Do we have to do this every morning?
    The Moon: [singing] Yes I dooooo! Cuz I Caaaaaaan! (Earth: Bum bum bum bum!)
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines:
    • Used in "Darington to the Moon!" when Darington's rocket is being revealed.
    • In "Meatball Mayhem", an opera-singing truck can be heard singing this just before the giant meatball scoops her up.
  • Used in the Futurama episode "Godfellas", when Bender floats into view, with a colony of Shrimpkins (and their brewery) living on him. This is a parody of the floating monolith scene in "2001".
    • And in "Near-Death Wish", when the crew enters the room with the retirement boxes. ("Duh-Dun" is replaced with "Ding-Dong", though.)
    Bender: My god, it's full of geezers!
  • Used in a couch gag in The Simpsons where the camera zooms out from the house into space and into Homer's head, ending where it started.
    • Also parodied in Little Girl in the Big Ten. Long story short, it plays when Lisa is thrown off the roof of Springfield Elementary in a plastic bubble, landing in a massive cake and splattering Skinner with it.
    • Again, also parodied in Deep Space Homer at the end when Bart throws the marker pen in the air, like the ape throwing the bone in the air scene in "2001".
  • Used in the episode "Illegal Booze" from a Finnish animated series Pasila in the scene the rioters suddenly get drunk despite not having had any alcohol.
  • Used to hilarious effect in the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Inventors".
  • Used in Daria as the soundtrack to Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer III's bizarre multimedia project.
  • Used in the "Monolith" segements of The Electric Company (1971) revealing a letter dipthong or small word, subsequently pronounced by a deistic voice, directly referencing 2001.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Suited For Success", the opening of the song is used in Twilight Sparkle's introduction in the fashion show, complementing her starry-night dress. A variation is also used in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" when Rarity finds the gem-filled rock during her filly flashback.
  • Used in The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "The Scotsman in Space" when Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy see Haggis MacHaggis out the window and he lifts up his kilt to moon them.
  • Used in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Irwin Gets a Clue" during a flashback to how Hoss Delgado became a strong badass. Hoss's buttcheeks bounce in time to the timpani beats.
  • Used in the Danger Mouse episode "Close Encounters Of The Absurd Kind," when Dr. Zok's spacecraft villain-naps Baron Greenback and his Frog's Head Flyer.
  • Ready Jet Go!: In "One Small Step", when Jet 2 arises from the hatch, the snippet is heard.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: After the climax of Miraculous Ladybug S04E22 "Ephemeral"'', Cat Noir “meows” this song, then calls it “Thus Said Catathrusta”.

    Real Life 
  • This was intended to be the background music of Apollo 13's television broadcast, though it ultimately didn't air.
  • This was played for the unveiling of the B-2. It was a sunny day and because of that nobody could see into the shadowed hanger that the plane was in, and as the song started the B-2 slowly rolled out into the light.
  • Used as the entrance music for the University of South Carolina football team.
  • Likewise used when the teams take the field at Portsmouth Football Club's ground.
  • The old Lifespring Basic Training Program, back when they still gave it, used this music to convene every session.

Alternative Title(s): Also Sprach Zarathustra, Thus Spoke Zarathustra