Also Sprach Zarathustra in Movie Previews

Posted by AJ Harbison at 10:24 am

This past weekend, my lovely wife and I went to see Up, Pixar’s latest movie (I know, you don’t have to tell me how far behind I am in seeing it…). It was really awesome, by the way–probably the most emotionally powerful and best-looking animated movie I’ve ever seen. But before the movie started, we were watching the previews, and I noticed that two of them in a row used the exact same music in their trailers. (One was Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, but I can’t remember what the other one was.) The music was the opening to Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, perhaps best known as the theme to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I guarantee you know this theme; if that doesn’t sound familiar, watch the YouTube clip below.)

This piece has been used bazillions of times in movies, commercials, previews, etc.; in these two trailers, it was being used as a parody of itself–a monumental, epic theme played humorously against animated films. But it struck me as pretty ridiculous that two animated previews in a row used the exact same music for the exact same purpose. Doesn’t anyone have any original ideas for music anymore? Why don’t they get a young up-and-coming composer of rocking music to write a new theme for them?



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    Rachel on 08.09.2009

    I’d hire you.

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    AJ Harbison on 08.10.2009

    Thanks Rachel! I’d love to work for you.

    AJ Harbison

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    Ryan Fleming on 08.12.2009

    It does seem odd that soooo many movie/film/TV shows use this theme. However, I do not believe that they use this theme because it is so epic sounding (although it is definately one of the most epic pieces of music ever composed IMHO). I think they use this piece because it has been used so many times before. They use it because people automatically and instantaneously connect with it. If a new piece of music was used (even if it were just as epic) it wouldn’t connect with the audience in the same way.

    I think another piece that has this same effect is the them song from “Chariots of Fire”. It is always played in a situation of great victory. It is also commonly used as a parody of itself in quite the same way as “Also Sprach Zarathustra” was used in the two movies.

    I do agree however that having it used back-to-back does take away most of the effect of the piece. And I would encourage you to compose a piece that some day will have the same effect on audiences around the world!

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