Why this creepy melody is in so many movies

  • Published on Sep 16, 2019
  • This deathly 13th-century song shows up everywhere.
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    Correction: Mozart’s Requiem isn’t a symphony, it’s a requiem: a type of Catholic mass for the dead. It was initially written for mass but later popularized and performed outside the church, as was Verdi's.
    Think back to some of the most dramatic scenes in film history - from The Lion King, The Shining, It’s a Wonderful Life. Besides being sad or scary, they have something else in common: the dies irae. “Dies irae” translates from Latin to “Day of Wrath” - it’s a 13th-century Gregorian chant describing the day Catholics believe God will judge the living and the dead and send them to heaven or hell. And it was sung during one specific mass: funerals.
    As Catholicism permeated world culture, the melody of the chant was repurposed into classical music, where it was used to convey a deathly, eerie tone. From there it worked its way into films - and if you don’t already know it, you’ve almost certainly heard it before: It’s played over and over in our scariest and most dramatic cinematic moments.
    Here’s Alex Ludwig’s original supercut of movies featuring the dies irae: ru-clip.net/video/GLGa6vfDTIM/video.html
    There are so many references to the dies irae in classical music that we couldn’t include. One is Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 1908 “symphonic poem” Isle of the Dead (ru-clip.net/video/dbbtmskCRUY/video.html). He was inspired by this painting from Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin that shows a coffin and white figure on their way to a small island (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_the_Dead_(painting)).
    Alex briefly touched on the differences between the ancient dorian mode and the modern minor mode. There’s a ton written online about them, but here’s a good place to start if you’re curious: www.musical-u.com/learn/get-familiar-with-the-dorian-mode/#
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Comments • 2 103

  • Vox
    Vox  29 days ago +3929

    Correction: Mozart’s Requiem isn’t a symphony, it’s a requiem: a type of Catholic mass for the dead. It was initially written for mass but later popularized and performed outside the church, as was Verdi's.

    • Deltron
      Deltron 2 days ago


    • Sebastian-Benedict Flore
      Sebastian-Benedict Flore 5 days ago

      @JTagStudios Yeah lol that one wasn't even the Dies Irae

    • Sebastian-Benedict Flore
      Sebastian-Benedict Flore 5 days ago

      @Simon du Toit Did you know that using a semitone interval in a melody makes the listener feel uncomfortable? Thanks Vox

    • Sebastian-Benedict Flore
      Sebastian-Benedict Flore 5 days ago

      You should probably delete the whole video because it's got a lot that is just not quite right m8

  • July Qn
    July Qn 2 days ago

    It‘s also in riverdale in every episode !!

  • joachim lewyy
    joachim lewyy 2 days ago

    Did you really said LINST ?


  • Jordan Elizabeth
    Jordan Elizabeth 2 days ago

    I'm singing that song in choir rn lol

  • God Himself
    God Himself 3 days ago

    Di-es irae di-es irae!!!

  • Victoria the green cheek conure

    I think this was in jarassic park

  • BloodGuzzler
    BloodGuzzler 3 days ago

    Most iconic use is in The Shining? Who Wants to be a Millionaire begs to differ

  • xenontesla122
    xenontesla122 4 days ago

    5:12 The track from the exorcist (Tubular Bells) wasn't made for the movie and wasn't intended to be creepy, so it probably isn't a modified version of Dies Irae.

  • josiah
    josiah 4 days ago

    i love it so much in the shining, it's so stark!!

  • asteadydecline
    asteadydecline 5 days ago

    My friend brought it to my attention that it's also in Clerks II as Elias is explaining "Pillow Pants" to Randal. I checked and it's also uncredited.

  • Mr. Gigan
    Mr. Gigan 5 days ago

    2:06 so that's where they got the shining theme.🤔

  • Gayle Cheung
    Gayle Cheung 5 days ago


  • TheVoiceOfTruth
    TheVoiceOfTruth 5 days ago

    So basically it was created to be apart of their nwo rituals to sacrifice to Remphan, Moloch, and Dagon. It has nasty dark undertones because that is exactly what it is

  • Sebastian-Benedict Flore

    I do not feel uncomfortable listening to the Dies Irae melody. It can be very calming and soothing.

  • Sebastian-Benedict Flore

    Dramaalert is more accurate than Vox

  • Sebastian-Benedict Flore

    According to this video, using a semitone (half-step) interval, not even together but consecutively, is displeasing to the ear. Ok sure then

  • Sebastian-Benedict Flore

    So, basically, this I'd the proto-lick?

  • Sebastian-Benedict Flore

    At 20 seconds, I recognise that melody from Liszt Totentanz. It's the main theme of his death dance, used exactly like that in every variation. The melody is unchanging

    • Sebastian-Benedict Flore
      Sebastian-Benedict Flore 5 days ago

      Oh I just got to the point in the video where they mention Liszt. Yeah obviously it's all dies irae. I like Britten's

  • Phoebe Wolf
    Phoebe Wolf 6 days ago

    This sounds like (I'm not sure if this is true) the Disney channel theme song but in a minor key

  • Niklas Soderstrom
    Niklas Soderstrom 6 days ago

    So it’s like the lick but less funny

  • Zander Seventy Two
    Zander Seventy Two 6 days ago +1

    "The Exorcist theme" is a stretch, given it wasn't composed for that film. It is, in fact, Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. It is possible that these notes could appear in a piece purely by coincidence (there's only four of them) - but you'd have to ask Mike Oldfield to be sure.

  • QuantumBraced
    QuantumBraced 7 days ago


  • brivnii
    brivnii 8 days ago +2

    I believe these notes are in the new Joker movie as well.

  • David Layton
    David Layton 8 days ago

    The theme from "10 Cloverfield Lane" uses it heavily.

  • Ryan Douglas
    Ryan Douglas 11 days ago

    6.6m subs but still records audio on an iphone?

  • The Gayest Dryer
    The Gayest Dryer 11 days ago +1

    OMG my choir teacher just taught us about this! We even played a song called "dies irae" that had those 4 notes a lot!

    DARTH VADER 12 days ago

    Lord of the rings extended it

  • Xser Gods
    Xser Gods 12 days ago

    4:20 to say Dorian mode is Minor mode is like saying oranges are apples, they are completely different

  • Raphael Cavalcanti
    Raphael Cavalcanti 12 days ago +2

    I first heard this chanted by two choirmen in a small chapel in the first requiem I've ever attended, reading the lyrics and the translation as they sung. It was chilling, I felt at unease.

  • Timothy White
    Timothy White 13 days ago

    Who gets inspiration from a Painting depicting suffering and death?

  • Matthew Forte
    Matthew Forte 13 days ago

    Hey, Vox, can we get someone to read these music ones who can pronounce Mozart's name correctly? Or Liszt's? Is that a possibility? I do not want to be too hoighty toighty, but it is hard to take this 'music expertise' stuff seriously when you cannot even pronounce the names of the figures you are alluding to correctly.

  • Jude Al-Safadi
    Jude Al-Safadi 13 days ago

    4:21 Who made this work of art? Is it a painting by Memling maybe?

  • Bo Inman
    Bo Inman 13 days ago +8

    We are singing “Dies Irae” in choir

  • matteste
    matteste 14 days ago

    It was also used in the visual novel Dies Irae (obviously)

  • Michael Keenan
    Michael Keenan 14 days ago

    Link to the chant at 1:00 please?

  • ShoogaMoogaMan
    ShoogaMoogaMan 14 days ago

    Now currently used as the theme for both Final Space and Dead by Daylight

  • Lesly Rodriguez
    Lesly Rodriguez 14 days ago

    I’m sure there is more stuff involved there is not many ways to arrange notes...

  • BinStolz - AufDich
    BinStolz - AufDich 14 days ago

    The best use of the theme is in the star wars song: Anikans betrayal. 😊

  • Alessandro Di Piazza
    Alessandro Di Piazza 15 days ago

    I recognised it gg

  • John Barreiros
    John Barreiros 15 days ago

    This video for some reason totally fascinated me..

  • cinetic_ clips
    cinetic_ clips 16 days ago

    5:10 Ah, I see the Exorcist theme and Chocolate Rain are very similar! Thanks Vox.

  • IGitzDiz Music
    IGitzDiz Music 16 days ago

    It's used in Home Alone.

  • Communist Propagandist

    If you like these kind of videos check out the channel Sideways, he does practically this video plus a bunch of other great videos.

  • Requiredfields2
    Requiredfields2 16 days ago

    You have made me rethink music.

  • シFloofie_Pan
    シFloofie_Pan 16 days ago


  • jupiter is a bean
    jupiter is a bean 17 days ago

    this is actually so cool

  • Silver Addie Fun Pack
    Silver Addie Fun Pack 17 days ago

    It’s also in Jack’s Lament from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
    He’s already dead anyway.

  • NJMProductions
    NJMProductions 17 days ago

    frick u vox pewdipe is best

  • Johnny St.Louis
    Johnny St.Louis 17 days ago

    MGS 1-The best is yet to come

  • Jack Tracy
    Jack Tracy 17 days ago

    Dead by Daylight

  • Fortnite Default.Streamer YT

    Ghidorah has this but like its faster

  • Oli Os
    Oli Os 18 days ago

    What is the piece of artwork at 4:07 called please?

    • Oli Os
      Oli Os 13 days ago

      Jude Al-Safadi beautiful, thank you.

    • Jude Al-Safadi
      Jude Al-Safadi 13 days ago +1

      Oli Os Hans Memling's triptych Last Judgment

  • Max Simon
    Max Simon 18 days ago +1

    2:06 Is it just me or does that sound like the shining

  • Rodrigo Fagundes Terassovich

    These are amazing!!!

  • Repomeister
    Repomeister 18 days ago

    It's also used in thousands of other songs as this short progression is almost unavoidable in any music written in any key that has these notes. ROOT... HALF STEP LOWER.... ROOT.... FULL STEP LOWER Of course this will appear everywhere. If you were to play the preceding and following 2 or 3 measures all of those songs would be unrecognizable as far as similarity to each other. If you were to shorten the progression down to just 3 notes you would see thousands and thousands MORE songs that use THOSE 3 CREEPY NOTES! Next do a video on just the F note and how it miraculously appears in almost every song ever written - how creepy that would be....

  • Jehudi Phillips
    Jehudi Phillips 18 days ago +1

    Random statement but old church music will forever be one of the scariest things to me

  • hatter hannah
    hatter hannah 18 days ago

    3:05 wait- I recognize this

  • Félix Marqués
    Félix Marqués 18 days ago

    Can anybody tell me what's the piece that plays at the very end, over the credits? The slightly jazzy one with descending chords? It's awesome.

  • Conan Edogawa
    Conan Edogawa 18 days ago +1

    The Don Corleone Mass shooting

  • Hoboz826
    Hoboz826 18 days ago

    i don’t want a history lesson 🙄