An early pioneer depicting the thrill and despair of war was Ron Goodwin, who scored World War II movies and The Battle of Britain with majestic noise, drums as machine guns, and music that draws in and elevates. Yet the war song that has lived on is by Eric Coates, whose Dam Busters March, the theme from the Dam Busters, is renowned and brings a nostalgia from its opening bars.
Two of the most prolific composers of successful war music are Hans Zimmer and John Williams. Amongst others, Zimmer produced the classic scores for The Thin Red Line, Black Hawk Down and Gladiator, whilst Williams did great soundtracks for Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan and War Horse. All of these use classical templates to create epic sounds that tug on the heartstrings of love, loss, life, death, and jingoism.
Other war movies that are considered more fictional and uplifting often use similar bombastic songs to add drama and emotion. The biggest example of this is Star Wars, whose legendary theme tune, also by John Williams, is known and loved universally.
In recent years, as video games have advanced from primitive sound to giant noise, the popular war games have been accompanied by equally important music. The Call of Duty series is the most famous war game and uses traditional orchestral arrangements for the same evocative effect, but also occasionally more modern songs for mood shifts and younger players.
Conversely, real life war music was very different to what its modern day soundtracks personify. In World War II, songs of hope, longing and community resonated, and so sentimental tunes like We'll Meet Again by Vera Lynn became unitedly popular. And in later decades, anti-war songs were written, in folk music by Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan, popularised by John Lennon, and later notably in punk music.