World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Incidental music

Article Id: WHEBN0000156938
Reproduction Date:

Title: Incidental music  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hamlet (Tchaikovsky), Jacques Offenbach, Le Martyre de saint Sébastien, Arthur Sullivan, Theatre music
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Incidental music

Incidental music is music in a play, television program, radio program, video game, film, or some other presentation form that is not primarily musical. The term is less frequently applied to film music, with such music being referred to instead as the "film score" or "soundtrack".

Incidental music is often "background" music, and is intended to add atmosphere to the action. It may take the form of something as simple as a low, ominous tone suggesting an impending startling event or to enhance the depiction of a story-advancing sequence. It may also include pieces such as overtures, music played during scene changes, or at the end of an act, immediately preceding an interlude, as was customary with several nineteenth-century plays. It may also be required in plays that have musicians performing on-stage.

The use of incidental music dates back at least as far as L'Arlésienne music, and Edvard Grieg's music for Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Parts of all of these are often performed in concerts outside the context of the play. Vocal incidental music, which is included in the classical scores mentioned above, should never be confused with the score of a Broadway or film musical, in which the songs often reveal character and further the storyline. Since the score of a Broadway or film musical is what actually makes the work a musical, it is far more essential to the work than mere incidental music, which nearly always amounts to little more than a background score; indeed, many plays have no incidental music whatsoever.

Some early examples of what were later called incidental music are also described as semi-operas, quasi-operas, masques, vaudevilles and melodramas.

The genre of incidental music does not extend to pieces designed for concert performance, such as overtures named after a play, for example, Beethoven's Coriolan Overture (written for Heinrich Joseph von Collin's tragedy), or Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet fantasy-overture.

Modern composers of incidental music include John White, Allan Loucks, and Lorenzo Ferrero.

Types

Overture

An overture is incidental music that is played usually at the beginning of a film, play, opera, etc., before the action begins. It may be a complete work of music in itself or just a simple tune. In some cases it incorporates musical themes that are later repeated in other incidental music used during the performance.

Theme song

A theme song is a work that represents the performance and is often played at the beginning or end of the performance. Elements of the theme may be incorporated into other incidental music used during the performance. In films, theme songs are often played during credit rolls. A love theme is a special theme song (often in various modified forms) that accompanies romantic scenes involving the protagonists of a performance.

Theme songs are among the most works of incidental music that are most commonly released independently of the performance for which they were written, and occasionally become major successes in their own right.

Underscore

An underscore is soft, unobtrusive background music that accompanies the action in a performance. It is usually designed so that spectators are only indirectly aware of its presence. It may help to set or indicate the mood of a scene.

Stinger

A stinger is a very brief instant of music that accompanies a scene transition in a performance. Often the stinger marks the passage of time or a change in location. Stingers were used frequently in the American television series Friends (as one example) to mark scene transitions involving the passage of time or a change of location. Similar techniques are commonly used in many American sitcoms.

Loop

Short sequences of recorded music called loops are sometimes designed so that they can be repeated indefinitely and seamlessly as required to accompany visuals. These are often used as background music in documentary and trade films.

Criticism

As incidental music doesn't occur in real life, some argue that it takes away from the realism of the show. Viewers may also dislike being guided on how they should feel after what they've seen on screen.

See also

Further reading

  • Harris, Steve. Film, Television, and Stage Music on Phonograph Records: a Discography. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1988. ISBN 0-89950-251-2

External links

  • Web OperaThe Foresters – Score by Sir Arthur Sullivan for a play by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with additional music arranged by persons unknown. Available online in an extremely complete state, down to the shortest trumpet fanfare, and thus an extremely useful example of Victorian incidental music.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.