The sound that connects Stravinsky to Bruno Mars

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, May 15, 2018
  • It’s an 1980s pop music cliche that dates back to 1910.

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    If you listen to the first few seconds of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” (hint: listen to the Cardi B remix) you’ll hear a sound that immediately creates a sense of 80s hip-hop nostalgia. Yes, Cardi B’s flow is very Roxanne Shante, but the sound that drives that nostalgia home isn’t actually from the 1980s.

    Robert Fink and the inventor of the Fairlight CMI, Peter Vogel, help me tell the story of the orchestra hit - a sound that was first heard in 1910 at the Paris Opera where the famed 20th century Russian composer Stravinsky debuted his first hit, The Firebird.

    The video above is, in short, a history of the original orchestra hit sample from The Firebird Suite to the 1982 hit “Planet Rock” to “Finesse.” And as a treat, here’s a playlist of way more songs with orchestra hits than you probably wanted.  


    Fairlight CMI app: Peter Vogel CMI by Peter Vogel Instruments Pty Ltd

    Robert Fink's paper:

    Some songs don't just stick in your head, they change the music world forever. Join Estelle Caswell on a musical journey to discover the stories behind your favorite songs.

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  • Vox


     a years ago +733

    The '80s were a golden age of musical experimentation. Watch the Earworm episode on how a recording accident led to one of the decade's most iconic sounds:



     9 hours ago

    The orchestra hit sounds amazing on hard hip hop tracks to.

  • nehemiah jacinto

    nehemiah jacinto

     19 hours ago

    Ling Ling Nods approval to Bruno Mars

  • Omar Chez

    Omar Chez


    Arturia just came out with a digital version of the CMI.

  • thatonedrewguy


     7 days ago

    Even Resident Evil 1's soundtrack have orchestral hits -- creepiest example being in the Mansion Basement.

  • Florin Filimon

    Florin Filimon

     14 days ago

    Estelle you are absolutely the best documentarist I know! Congratulations on your amazing work!!!

  • MrOvchiyan


     14 days ago

    The most iconic orchestra hits are in Mortal Combat theme.

  • Jonathan Befort

    Jonathan Befort

     14 days ago

    Estelle Caswell is the musical Ken Burns. Her stories are superior to.....everything.

  • Justice Forcier

    Justice Forcier

     21 days ago

    5:17 that's ashley from the fresh prince

  • Joe Campbell

    Joe Campbell

     21 days ago

    I want so badly to show these to my elementary and middle school students, but the occasional swear prevents that. Please consider re-releasing swear free versions of these so we can show our classes your amazing videos! Love it.

  • RedBluePill


     21 days ago

    I regret selling my Fairlight's

  • elliot fuselier

    elliot fuselier

     21 days ago

    Proof that an appreciation of ALL music genres is necessary for an understanding of music

  • sezyum


     21 days ago

    Yüreğine sağlık admin hanım.

  • Sepher Agon

    Sepher Agon

     21 days ago +1

    I remember how in 81 - 82 a rap song had it, now know why, it was a new.

  • Josh Rodrigue

    Josh Rodrigue

     21 days ago

    Another amazing video, but I think the orchestra hit predates Stravinsky. Check out the beginning of Greig's Piano Concerto in A minor, Opus 16, first movement. That was composed in 1868.

  • pfdtx


     21 days ago

    I was so happy to get a much cheaper Ensoniq Mirage, and Orch hit was monophonic and 8 bit. Still has some personality.

  • Travis Holland

    Travis Holland

     a months ago

    Konami LOVED using a certain orchestra hit in the 90s. It was in so many of their games.

  • TTMacademy


     a months ago

    nice...luv skratching orchestra hits!

  • WaTDeM Ho3say

    WaTDeM Ho3say

     a months ago

    Afrika Bambaataa - Planet rock has the best orchestra hit ever in a song

  • Shaun Alina

    Shaun Alina

     a months ago +3

    so the windows error sound is an orchestra hit