Synthesizer Themes: “Chariots of Fire” (Vangelis)

The grandiose synthesizer theme from the movie “Chariots of Fire” (1981) is probably one of best known synthesizer themes ever. Composed and performed by Greek movie composer and musician Vangelis (Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou). When subsequentially released as a single, It even went #1 on Billboard top-100 and top-10 in certain territories, which is not very common for a soundtrack.

I was actually commissioned to do a 100% replica of this track for a TV-spot, so I am pretty familiar with it. Check my out version here.

It is a classy production from the peak of the analogue subtractive synthesizer era, with its lush strings, deep bass, cutting synth brass and cracking noise percussion. Although synthesizer dominated, it is actually a mix of synth and acoustic instruments. The piano plays the main theme with swirling arpeggios to trigger a strong emotional response of triumph.

Vangelis used his mighty Yamaha CS-80 Polyphonic synthesizer extensively on this production.

The Chariots of Fire theme has been included on sevaral Vangelis compilations, and has been performed live on a few occasions.

Here’s the original theme by Vangelis:

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