I enjoy listening to Two Steps From Hell's song "High C's". The name is quite obviously a pun on the high seas (the ocean) and High C (the note).


What does the song have to do with the ocean? Why the pun?

2 Answers 2


I can't make out the lyrics but the beginning riff is a hornpipe melody. The hornpipe is a country dance that is danced on a single spot, excellent style of dance for sailors looking for recreation. Hence it was adopted by the Royal Navy. Hornpipes to this day evoke images of sailors dancing on deck.

  • I would agree --and would add only that it is not merely the opening riff that emulates a sea shanty, but portions of the entire song. It would make great soundtrack music for a scene set on the open ocean. Compare Gilbert & Sullivan's emulation of a similar sound for their nautical operetta, HMS Pinafore Sep 11, 2017 at 13:48
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    Don't forget Pirates of Penzance! When Patrick was a little lad. . . Sep 11, 2017 at 14:36

Stylistically speaking, High C's is a contemporary take on the traditional "swashbuckling" genre of orchestral music, characterized by bombastic melodies in the brass section, fast and intricate accompaniment patterns in the strings, and a 'swaying' rhythmic feel (typically in 6/8 or 12/8 time). This kind of music was commonly featured in the soundtracks of classic movies about pirates and/or naval warfare in the age of sail. The score to 'Pirates of the Caribbean' is another good recent example of this style.

It's also worth noting that in sailors' jargon, "high seas" can also mean 'large waves'. The textures and pacing of High C's could be interpreted as a musical depiction of a ship getting tossed around by big waves (or 'high seas') in an intense storm.

TL;DR: High C's emulates a genre of film score that's often associated with the high seas.

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