Have you heard of the Wilhelm Scream? Basically, it was a one-second sound bite from a bit character in a 1951 movie that somehow made its way into Warner Brothers Studios' collection of sound effects. It has since been used as a special effect in hundreds - maybe thousands - of films, from big productions to B-movies.
The Wilhelm Scream isn't the only sound effect Hollywood likes to fall back on. Some classical scores are so well-known and so evocative of a certain feeling that they become mainstays in the film industry.
1. Carl Orff, "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana: Take "O Fortuna," for example. This cantata, based off a series of medieval poems, is one of the tensest scores Rocks Off can think of. And its use in film indicates that - it's often employed to develop suspense. It's been used in Glory, The Doors, and Natural Born Killers. But its typecasting also allows it to be used for comedic effect - it was also part of the score for Epic Movie.
2. Richard Wagner, "Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walkure: One of Hollywood Shuffle's favorite films is Apocalypse Now, one of the reasons being that from Creedence to Classical, the film so perfectly incorporates music into each scene that it's almost like an additional character. So it's weird to us to see the German leitmotif used in scenes other than the famous "Napalm in the morning" bombing raid. But look above - Fellini used it in 8 1/2, and it's even featured in The Blues Brothers as Jake and Elwood are being chased by Neo-Nazis.
3. Gioachino Rossini, "Ranz des Vaches": Probably at least one cartoon you saw as a kid featured "Ranz des Vaches," also known as the "Call to the Dairy Cows," as characters were waking up. The "Call to the Dairy Cows" is actually an introduction to the opera William Tell, the overture of which was most famously used as the theme song to The Lone Ranger TV show.
4. Edvard Grieg, "Peer Gynt Suite No.1": "Peer Gynt Suite No.1," also known as "Morning," is also frequently used in cartoon as an alarm clock. But it has had a more cheeky usage in at least two B-movies, the infamous Soylent Green, and as the opening scene in the most excellent zombie Nazi flick Dead Snow, which also makes egregious use of Beethoven.
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5. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, "Flight of the Bumblebee": Probably Hollywood Shuffle's favorite piece for piano, this interlude is a mainstay for "fast forward" scenes in movies and sitcoms. It's used in Kill Bill when The Bride rides her motorcycle through the streets of Tokyo, but it really shines in, well, Shine.