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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".
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.
A play is form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of dialogue or singing between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from London’s West End and Broadway in New York – which are the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world – to regional theatre, to community theatre, as well as university or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.
Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.
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.
Background music refers to a mode of musical performance in which the music is not intended to be a primary focus of potential listeners, but its content, character, and volume level are deliberately chosen to affect behavioral and emotional responses in humans such a concentration, relaxation, distraction, and excitement. Listeners are uniquely subject to background music with no control over its volume and content. The range of responses created are of great variety, and even opposite, depending on numerous factors such as, setting, culture, audience, and even time of day.
Overture in music was originally the instrumental introduction to a ballet, opera, or oratorio in the 17th century. During the early Romantic era, composers such as Beethoven and Mendelssohn composed overtures which were independent, self-existing instrumental, programmatic works that presaged genres such as the symphonic poem. These were "at first undoubtedly intended to be played at the head of a programme".
A musician is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented. Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music is referred to as a musician. A musician who plays a musical instrument is also known as an instrumentalist.
The use of incidental music dates back at least as far as Greek drama. A number of classical composers have written incidental music for various plays, with the more famous examples including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Thamos, King of Egypt music, Ludwig van Beethoven's Egmont music, Carl Maria von Weber's Preciosa music, Franz Schubert's Rosamunde music, Felix Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream music, Robert Schumann's Manfred music, Georges Bizet's L'Arlésienne music, and Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt music. 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.
Greek literature dates back from the ancient Greek literature, beginning in 800 BC, to the modern Greek literature of today.
A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era.
Some early examples of what were later called incidental music are also described as semi-operas, quasi-operas, masques, vaudevilles and melodramas.
The terms "semi-opera", "dramatic[k] opera" and "English opera" were all applied to Restoration entertainments that combined spoken plays with masque-like episodes employing singing and dancing characters. They usually included machines in the manner of the restoration spectacular. The first examples were the Shakespeare adaptations produced by Thomas Betterton with music by Matthew Locke. After Locke's death, a second flowering produced the semi-operas of Henry Purcell, notably King Arthur and The Fairy-Queen. Semi-opera received a deathblow when the Lord Chamberlain separately licensed plays without music and the new Italian opera.
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment that flourished in 16th- and early 17th-century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio. A masque involved music and dancing, singing and acting, within an elaborate stage design, in which the architectural framing and costumes might be designed by a renowned architect, to present a deferential allegory flattering to the patron. Professional actors and musicians were hired for the speaking and singing parts. Often the masquers, who did not speak or sing, were courtiers: the English queen Anne of Denmark frequently danced with her ladies in masques between 1603 and 1611, and Henry VIII and Charles I of England performed in the masques at their courts. In the tradition of masque, Louis XIV of France danced in ballets at Versailles with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully.
Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.
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.
The Coriolan Overture, Op. 62, is a composition written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1807 for Heinrich Joseph von Collin's 1804 tragedy Coriolan.
Heinrich Joseph von Collin (1771–1811), Austrian dramatist, was born in Vienna, on 26 December 1771. He received a legal education and entered the Austrian ministry of finance where he found speedy promotion. In 1805 and in 1809, when Austria was under the heel of Napoleon, Collin was entrusted with important political missions. In 1803 he was, together with other members of his family, ennobled, and in 1809 made Hofrat. He died on 28 July 1811 in Vienna.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the romantic period, whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. He was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension.
Modern composers of incidental music include Pierre Boulez, Lorenzo Ferrero, Irmin Schmidt, Ilona Sekacz, John White, and Iannis Xenakis.
Pierre Louis Joseph Boulez CBE was a French composer, conductor, writer and creator of musical institutions. He was one of the dominant figures of the post-war classical music world.
Lorenzo Ferrero is a contemporary Italian composer, librettist, author, and book editor. He started composing at an early age and has written over a hundred compositions thus far, including twelve operas, three ballets, and numerous orchestral, chamber music, solo instrumental, and vocal works. His musical idiom is characterized by eclecticism, stylistic versatility, and a neo-tonal language.
Irmin Schmidt is a German keyboardist and composer, best known as a founding member of the band Can.
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.
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 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.
An underscore is a soft, noiseless soundtrack theme which 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.
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)[ citation needed ] to mark scene transitions involving the passage of time or a change of location. Similar techniques are commonly used in many American sitcoms.
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.
Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.
A soundtrack, also written sound track, can be recorded music accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, book, television program, or video game; a commercially released soundtrack album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film, video, or television presentation; or the physical area of a film that contains the synchronized recorded sound.
Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting music composed for another medium for an orchestra. Also called "instrumentation", orchestration is the assignment of different instruments to play the different parts of a musical work. For example, a work for solo piano could be adapted and orchestrated so that an orchestra could perform the piece, or a concert band piece could be orchestrated for a symphony orchestra.
A melodrama is a dramatic work in which the plot, which is typically sensational and designed to appeal strongly to the emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Melodramas typically concentrate on dialogue, which is often bombastic or excessively sentimental, rather than action. Characters are often simply drawn, and may appear stereotyped. Melodramas are typically set in the private sphere of the home, and focus on morality and family issues, love, and marriage, often with challenges from an outside source, such as a "temptress", or an aristocratic villain. A melodrama on stage, film or television is usually accompanied by dramatic and suggestive music that offers cues to the audience of the drama being presented.
Entr'acte means "between the acts". It can mean a pause between two parts of a stage production, synonymous to an intermission, but it more often indicates a piece of music performed between acts of a theatrical production.
"Flight of the Bumblebee" is an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900. Its composition is intended to musically evoke the seemingly chaotic and rapidly changing flying pattern of a bumblebee. Despite the piece's being a rather incidental part of the opera, it is today one of the more familiar classical works because of its frequent use in popular culture.
Turkish music, in the sense described here, is not really music of Turkey, but rather a musical style that was occasionally used by the European composers of the Classical music era. This music was modelled—though often only distantly—on the music of Turkish military bands, specifically the Janissary bands.
Egmont is a play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which he completed in 1788. Its dramaturgical structure, like that of his earlier 'Sturm und Drang' play Götz von Berlichingen (1773), is heavily influenced by Shakespearean tragedy. In contrast to the earlier work, the portrait in Egmont of the downfall of a man who trusts in the goodness of those around him appears to mark a shift away from 'Sturm und Drang' values.
The William Tell Overture is the overture to the opera William Tell, whose music was composed by Gioachino Rossini. William Tell premiered in 1829 and was the last of Rossini's 39 operas, after which he went into semi-retirement. The overture is in four parts, each following without pause.
At two separate times, Felix Mendelssohn composed music for William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. First in 1826, near the start of his career, he wrote a concert overture. Later, in 1842, only a few years before his death, he wrote incidental music for a production of the play, into which he incorporated the existing Overture. The incidental music includes the world-famous Wedding March.
The Ruins of Athens, Opus 113, is a set of incidental music pieces written in 1811 by Ludwig van Beethoven. The music was written to accompany the play of the same name by August von Kotzebue, for the dedication of a new theatre at Pest.
Rosamunde, Fürstin von Zypern is a play by Helmina von Chézy, which is primarily remembered for the incidental music which Franz Schubert composed for it. Music and play premiered in Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 20 December 1823.
Egmont, Op. 84 by Ludwig van Beethoven, is a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It consists of an overture followed by a sequence of nine pieces for soprano, male narrator, and full symphony orchestra. Beethoven wrote it between October 1809 and June 1810, and it was premiered on 15 June 1810.
"Liebestod" is the title of the final, dramatic music from the 1859 opera Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner. It is the climactic end of the opera, as Isolde sings over Tristan's dead body.
Diegetic music or source music is music in a drama that is part of the fictional setting and so, presumably, is heard by the characters. The term refers to diegesis, a style of storytelling.
Theatre music refers to a wide range of music composed or adapted for performance in theatres. Genres of theatre music include opera, ballet and several forms of musical theatre, from pantomime to operetta and modern stage musicals and revues. Another form of theatre music is incidental music, which, as in radio, film and television, is used to accompany the action or to separate the scenes of a play. The physical embodiment of the music is called a score, which includes the music and, if there are lyrics, it also shows the lyrics.
The Julius Caesar overture, Op. 128, is a concert overture written in 1851 by Robert Schumann, inspired by Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar and influenced by the Egmont and Coriolan overtures of Ludwig van Beethoven.