Theme, motif, leitmotiv, melody... Does anyone agree on exact definitons ?
Posted 02 June 2007 - 01:18 PM
JW's music is filled with themes, motifs and melodies, as well, of course, as downright atonal music. The problem maybe is that he builds motives (the "crystal motif) out of other motives (the "Krypton motif)... How would you define these words ?
Posted 02 June 2007 - 04:50 PM
Theme is anything more than a few notes that identifies with a major element of the film. QuiGon's Theme, although not used much is still a theme to me. "Theme" can also be a recognisable piece of music that represents the film. Often a concertized version, like the Imperial March.
Motif is a couple notes, like JAWS or the 4 note menacing dinosaur thing. Or the descending 4 note Sleepers "Hell's Kitchen" motif. However, with JAWS, because it was turned into an opening piece of music to start the film, with the motifs overlapping and forming soething more complex, I would call that a Theme too. Maybe that could be said for Minority Report.
A leitmotif is just a theme that is quoted many times in different forms within larger pieces of music. I figure it has to go through many permutations to be a leitmotif, such as Yoda's theme. The general idea is to be strict wth its usage, but Williams often mixes it up, such as usig Leia's theme for Ben's death. No clearcut answer there.
Melody just means one musical line. JW often has 2 melodies at once (a counter melody). Anything more than just block chords or arpeggiated intervals could, I suppose, be considered a melody by someone.
Posted 02 June 2007 - 05:03 PM
Theme = a single (but complete) tune/melody. Could stand alone as piece of music in its own right.
Motif = like a shorter theme, usually only a few bars, could not stand alone as a piece of music in its own right.
Leitmotif = a motif that applies to a specific thing, usually a character.
Posted 02 June 2007 - 05:26 PM
Leitmotiv (a leading motif) is a musical identification for a particular mood, object, character, place etc. It does not have to be a long lined melody but it can vary from few notes (or just a chord) to a full fledged complex variation and development of a particular musical phrase.
Motif is a basic musical building block, a phrase that is repeated in a work. This is not strictly a film music term but also a general term in orchestral music.
Theme is close to leitmotiv and it could be said that they are one and same in film music. Theme is something more elaborate than a motif but it usually functions like leitmotiv being attached to a particular thing in a film.
Ars superior est vita hominum.
"We pop out and come into the world and music is there. We didn't invent it - it's all organised in the atmosphere by divinity or whatever. It's a miracle." - John Williams-
I think music is a stream of some kind. It could be blood. It could be water. It could be ether. Whatever it is it seems to be a living, organic force that’s in motion, that serves humanity and is part of humanity and part of what describes us as humans. We sing, play, dance, all the things that we do. And there is a vibrant and great literature we have been given. ... As musicians, we join the stream. We swim in the stream with all the other millions of music makers. It’s a life force, a strong one, surrounding us and we are part of it. -John Williams-
Posted 02 June 2007 - 06:13 PM
A motif is a brief, recognisable sequence of notes. For example, the two-note shark bit or the three notes for the Philosopher's Stone are motifs.
A theme is a longer musical phrase, often consisting of shorter motifs (i.e. the melody of a theme can be broken down to melodic fragments).
A leitmotif is a motif or theme associated with "something", i.e. a character or situation. The common "theme from X" or "X's theme" actually uses the term "theme" as a replacement for "leitmotif" and not in its original musical meaning.
As for atonality, that's an unrelated subject. To my knowledge, the most atonal series of notes can still be a motif or theme, when used as such.
Posted 02 June 2007 - 11:11 PM
Motif is more simple like the raptor motif in Jurassic Park.I think short stuff like the Rebel Fanfare is also a motif
Posted 05 June 2007 - 03:46 PM
Theme - some type of musical statement. It can be as simple as two notes or as complex as multiple bars. It's an all encompassing term, much like Christian is an all encompassing term for any who's a Christ believer. They do not necessarly have to be "whistleable" or what we call "tuneful." J.S. Bach was not "tuneful." You can't whistle his music - well, you could, but you'ld be nuts to do so.
Motif - the technical "music speak" word for theme. Motif comes from the Ancient Greek word for motion.
Leitmotif - a motif/theme that serves a specific function in a movie/tv/opera/play or other programmatic work. It can musically represent a person, place, thing or concept.
If we were to be technically proper when we talk about "themes" in regards to Star Wars, Harry Potter, et al, we should say things like "The Force leitmotif" or "The Emperor's Leitmotif" or "Vader's Leitmotif". Is it necessary to do that, no. Theme works just fine.
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