Meaning of Epic Music or Epic Orchestral Music

Article updated

I'm an Epic music aka Epic orchestral music composer and playlist curator.

In this article I will be teaching you the meaning of these terms.

Definition of Epic Music

The Word Epic As A Standalone

In literature: An Epic is "a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation.", definition provided by Oxford Languages.

This is the origin of Epic music. It is strongly associated with words like fantasy, heroism and adventure, which describe the range of emotions the Epic genre aims to evoke in listeners.

Note: Epic or "epos" in ancient Greece could also mean "song", this is because a song can tell you a story just as effectively as a narrative. It transformed into the Greek "epikos" and then the Latin "eipein", losing its song meaning and retaining its narrative meaning.

Epic Music aka Epic Orchestral Music

Epic music refers to a modern type of classical orchestral music, with or without hybrid elements added to it.

Example: adding an electric guitar into the orchestra.

And the word orchestral means that it has been written for an orchestra to play. Epic music sounds really full because it uses the full range of an orchestra.

The goal of Epic music is to bring you along on an adventure and tell you a story rich in emotions, either happy or sad.

Is Epic Music A Genre?

"Epic Music" is not an official genre, if you would be releasing this type of music:

When searching for classical music, people do not typically consider this type of music. This is the reason it is commonly referred to as Epic music or Epic orchestral instead of classical orchestral.

"Epic orchestral" really means "contemporary classical orchestral", but as you can see, it's way easier to say and remember.

Contemporary means close to present time, sometimes you can find the term modern instead.

Is Epic A Mood?

The word "Epic" also conveys a particular mood, which can be described as intense. Thus, the term "Epic" can be substituted with "intense" to convey a similar feeling.

Although some people might use "Epic" as a synonym for "motivational" or "uplifting", this is incorrect. In reality, Epic music can be as dark and dramatic as possible.

The Pioneers of Epic Orchestral Music

It Wasn't A Thing

The word Epic only became a thing in music because someone decided to used it. Someone that wanted to tell a complete story through their music, with ups and downs, battle and love.

In reality, they wanted to make trailer music, the fact that a lot of people enjoyed their music and used it in a lot of videos, which was their massive growth origin, was out of their control.

"They" is referring to...

Two Steps From Hell

The pioneers of the Epic genre are Two Steps From Hell aka TSFH. They described what Epic music is, in a very interesting way:

"Composers Thomas Bergersen and Nick Phoenix write epic orchestral music with energy that makes you feel like you can conquer the world!", this quote is from their Twitter profile @twostepsfromhe1.

Their signature, in most of their Epic soundtracks, is the use of over-the-top choirs, giving their music a very intense feeling.

If you want to dig deeper, you can take a look at their official website.

Common Places Where Epic Music Can Be Found

Epic Music In Trailer Scores

The most common place to find Epic music is in trailers. Many companies, called Trailer Houses, have specialized into composing trailer music and selling it to music supervisors in need of this type of music for their projects. When a track lands (meaning: is chosen for the trailer) it's called a trailer score.

Hybrid elements are usually heavily present in trailer music (big electronic sounds to catch your attention), to the point it's over-done and every trailer starts to sound the same.

Epic Music In Film Soundtracks

Because movies tell stories through various emotional cues, the music must match and complement the emotions being conveyed. Every scene that is intense or dramatic will usually have some form of orchestral music attached to it.

Hans Zimmer (Twitter profile @HansZimmer) for example, will always provide incredible atmospheres for everything he composes for. You can listen to the full soundtracks of his motion picture scores on Spotify to get an idea of what this means, or directly watch any film that he scored.

Epic Music In Video Game Music

Just like movies, video games will tell you, or more like will have you play through a story. Depending on the game genre, the music can greatly vary.

The type of games you will most likely find classical orchestral or hybrid orchestral music in, are role-playing games aka RPGs.

Example: Elden Ring, God of War, Elder Scrolls, Assassin's Creed & many more.

Epic Music In Playlists

How about trailers, movies and game soundtracks all in one place?

I'm curating and updating on a weekly basis each one of these 6 Epic music playlists:

(click on any playlist to be redirected to my playlist page)

On… …the battlefield
To… …Glory
Conquer… …the SEAS
My… …destiny
To Hell… …and back
Search… …and destroy