Orchestral hit

Orchestra hit

An orchestra hit, also known as an orchestral hit, orchestra stab, or orchestral stab, is a sound created through the layering of the sounds of a number of different orchestral instruments. The orchestra hit sound was propagated by the use of early samplers, particularly the Fairlight CMI, and it has similarly appeared as a voice on many keyboards. When used in music it usually appears at the beginning or end of a musical phrase, in effect punctuating it.

One of the first popular songs to use a sampled orchestra hit sound was the band Yes's 1983 hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart", from their album 90125. This album was produced by Trevor Horn, who also used similar sounds frequently on songs by his own group Art of Noise. The orchestra hit sound appeared on many songs throughout the 1980s. Probably the most frequently used version was a sample from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite that came as part of the Fairlight CMI library of sounds Many rap groups picked up the sound and it appeared frequently in rap music, as well as dance music from the 1980s to early 1990s. By the 1990s the orchestra hit was generally regarded as a musical cliché. Today the sound most frequently appears in television in the presentation music of such genres as news and sports programming and game shows such as The Weakest Link.


Fairlight IIx Samples. Retrieved April 23, 2004 from

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