Leitmotif 1

A leitmotif ( /ˌlaɪtmoʊˈtiːf/), sometimes written leit-, is a musical term (though occasionally used in theatre or ), referring to a recurring , associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is Leitmotif associated with in Richard 's (see below) closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe. The term itself comes from the German Leitmotiv, literally meaning "leading motif", or, perhaps more accurately, "guiding motif."

In particular such a theme should be 'clearly identified so as to retain its identity if modified on subsequent appearances' whether such modification be in terms of , , or accompaniment. It may also be 'combined with other leitmotifs to suggest a new dramatic condition' or development.[1] The technique is notably associated with the of , although he was not its originator, and did not employ the word in connection with his work. Although usually a short , it can also be a or even a simple rhythm. Leitmotifs can help to bind a work together into a coherent whole, and also enable the composer to relate a story without the use of words, or to add an extra level to an already present story. By extension, the word has also been used to mean any sort of recurring theme, (whether or not subject to developmental transformation) in music, literature, or (metaphorically) the life of a fictional or a real person. It is sometimes also used in discussion of other musical genres, such as instrumental pieces, cinema, and video game music, sometimes interchangeably with the more general category of 'theme'. Such usages typically obscure the crucial aspect of a leitmotif, as opposed to the plain musical motif or theme - that it is transformable and recurs in different guises throughout the piece in which it occurs.

Classical music

Early usage in classical music The use of characteristic, short, recurring motives in orchestral music can be traced back to the late eighteenth century. In of this period (such as the works of Grétry and Méhul), "reminiscence motives" can be identified, which may recur at a significant juncture in the to establish an association with earlier events. Their use, however, is not extensive or systematic. The power of the technique was exploited early in the nineteenth century by composers of Romantic opera, such as , where recurring themes or ideas were sometimes used in association with specific characters (e.g. Sammael in Der Freischütz is coupled with the chord of a diminished seventh).[2] Indeed, the first use of the word "leitmotif" in print was by the critic F. W. Jähns in describing Weber's work, although this was not until 1871.[3] Motives were also important in purely instrumental music of the romantic period. The related idea of the musical idée fixe was coined by in reference to his (1830). This purely instrumental, programmatic work (subtitled 'Episode in the Life of an Artist') features a recurring melody representing the object of the artist's obsessive affection and depicting her presence in various real and imagined situations. Leitmotif 2


Richard Wagner is the composer most often associated with leitmotifs. His cycle of four operas, (the music for which was The 'Siegfried' leitmotif from III of Wagner's opera, the third of his 'Ring' cycle; the written between 1853 and 1869), uses theme is broader and more richly orchestrated than its earlier appearances (see above), suggesting the emergence of Siegfried's heroic character dozens of leitmotifs, often related to specific characters, things, or situations. While some of these leitmotifs occur in only one of the operas, many recur throughout the entire cycle.[4] [5] Wagner had raised the issue of how music could best unite disparate elements of the plot of a music drama in his essay (1851); the leitmotif technique corresponds to this ideal.[6] Some controversy surrounded the use of the word in Wagner's own circle: Wagner never authorised the use of the word "leitmotiv", using words such as "Grundthema" (basic idea), or simply "Motiv". His preferred name for the technique was Hauptmotiv (principal motif), which he first used in 1877; the only time he used the word 'Leitmotiv', he referred to 'so-called Leitmotivs'.[7]

The word became controversial among Wagnerians because of its early association with the overly literal interpretations of Wagner's music by Hans von Wolzogen, who in 1876 published a "Leitfaden" (guide or manual) to the "Ring". In it he claimed to have isolated and named all of the recurring motives in the cycle (the motive of "Servitude", the "Spear" or "Treaty" motive, etc.), often leading to absurdities or contradictions with Wagner's actual practice.[8] Some of the motifs he identified began to appear in the published musical scores of the operas, arousing Wagner's annoyance; his wife quoted him as saying 'People will think all this nonsense is done at my request!'.[9] In fact Wagner himself never publicly named any of his leitmotifs, preferring to emphasise their flexibility of association, role in the , and emotional effect. The practice of naming leitmotifs nevertheless continued, including in the work of prominent Wagnerian critics , and Robert Donington.[10] The resulting lists of leitmotifs also attracted the ridicule of anti-Wagnerian critics and composers (such as , , and ). They identified the motif with Wagner's own approach to composing, mocking the impression of a musical "address book" or list of "cloakroom numbers" it created.[11]

After Wagner Since Wagner, the use of leitmotifs has been taken up by many other composers. used the device in many of his operas and several of his . Despite his sometimes acerbic comments on Wagner, Claude Debussy utilised leitmotifs in his opera Pelléas et Mélisande (1902). used a complex set of leifmotifs in his choral work Gurre-Lieder (completed 1911). Ruggero Leoncavallo used leitmotifs in his opera Pagliacci (1892), using from the opera's in the , and the overall orchestral accompaniment. 's opera (1914–1922) also utilises leitmotifs. Leitmotif 3

Literature, drama and film 'Leitmotif' is often used to refer to the significant repetition of any element in a book, , , film, or other artistic works. In literature, a leitmotif is used as a recurring event, image, object or character in a story, poem or play. Leitmotifs (or motifs) become significant to the meaning of the overall work when they develop thematic importance. In film, a motif is most frequently a , image, character trait, or element of the mise en scène. Leitmotif-like techniques, with word patterns replacing melodies, are said to be used in the "Sirens" chapter of Ulysses by James Joyce (chapter 11). Critics argue that there are recurring themes of music that begin at the beginning of the chapter and continue throughout the rest of the chapter, and also the book. The "leitmotif" is also present in Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The themes of the Virgin Mary and the Greek of Stephen's namesake, Daedalus, are some of the more noticeable leitmotifs throughout the work. The leitmotif in this novel provides unity as the character of Stephen matures. Samuel Beckett uses leitmotifs throughout his body of works. Other writers who have used similar techniques include Virginia Woolf, , Joseph Heller, Thomas Mann, Chuck Palahniuk, and Julian Barnes in his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters.

Critique of the leitmotif concept The critic Theodor Adorno, in his book In Search of Wagner (written in the 1930s), expresses the opinion that the entire concept of the leitmotif is flawed. The motif cannot be both the bearer of expression and a musical 'gesture', because that reduces emotional content to a mechanical process. He notes that 'even in Wagner's own day the public made a crude link between the leitmotivs and the persons they characterised' because people's innate mental processes did not necessarily correspond with Wagner's subtle intentions or optimistic expectations. He continues: The degeneration of the leitmotiv is implicit in this [...] it leads directly to cinema music where the sole function of the leitmotiv is to announce heroes or situations so as to allow the to orient itself more easily'[12]

In popular culture Leitmotifs in Adorno's 'degenerated' sense frequently occur in movie scores, and have done since the early decades of sound film. 's 1938 score for Robin Hood, for example, can be heard to attach particular themes and to individual characters: Robin, Will, Much, and Gisbourne are all accompanied by distinctive musical material. A more modern example is the series, in which composer uses a large number of themes specifically associated with people and concepts (for example, a particular motif attaches to the idea of the Force).

References [1] New Grove Dictionary, Leitmotif [2] Oxford Concise, Leitmotiv [3] New Grove Dictionary, Leitmotif [4] Millington (1992), 234-5

[5] Grout (2003), Chapter 22 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=l_b2vIXHsUkC& pg=PA456) [6] Burbidge and Sutton, (1979), pp. 345-6 [7] Oxford Concise , Leitmotiv [8] See Thorau, 2009 [9] Cosima Wagner,(1980), II, 697 (1 August 1881) [10] See e.g. Donnington (1979), passim [11] Rehding (2007), 348 [12] Adorno (205), pp.34–36 • Theodor Adorno,tr. Rodney Livingstone , In Search of Wagner, London 2005 (ISBN 9781844673445) Leitmotif 4

• Aylmer Buesst, Richard Wagner's "The Nibelung's Ring": An Act By Act Guide to the Plot and Music (1932; 2nd ed. 1952) • Peter Burbidge and Richard Sutton, The Wagner Companion, London, 1979. ISBN 0571 114504 • R. Donnington, Wagner's 'Ring' and its Symbols, London, 1979 • Donald Jay Grout and Hermine Weigel Williams (2003). A short history of opera (4rth ed.). Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231119585 • H. Rosenthal and J. Warrack (eds.), Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, Oxford 1979 • Barry Millington (ed.), The Wagner Compendium, London 1992 • Alexander Rehding, review of Christian Thorau, Semantisierte Sinnlichkeit: Studien zu Rezeption und Zeichenstruktur der Leitmotivtechnik Richard Wagners in Opera Quarterly vol. 23 (Oxford, 2007) pp. 348–351 • Stanley Sadie, ed., New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Leitmotif (by John Warrack). • Christian Thorau, Guides for Wagnerites: Letimotifs and Wagnerian Listening, in T. Grey, (ed.), Richard Wagner and his World, (pp. 133–150) Princeton 2009 ISBN 9780691143668 • Cosima Wagner, tr. Geoffrey Skelton, Cosima Wagner's Diaries (2 vols.), London 1980. Article Sources and Contributors 5 Article Sources and Contributors

Leitmotif Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=431958404 Contributors: ARog, Adj08, Akira7, Anaxial, Andycjp, Antandrus, Antti29, Atavi, Bdelisle, Bender235, Bigone2, Bisqwit, Boivie, Brews ohare, Busterbros, CLW, Cain Mosni, CambridgeBayWeather, Camembert, CanisRufus, Canley, CheShA, Chevellefan11, Chowbok, Colin Barrett, Colonies Chris, DTOx, Dante Alighieri, Darrien, Deathsythe, Deflective, Demcanulty, Derekmasuda, Doktor Waterhouse, Dolphin Jedi, Dominus, Dpeters911, Dysprosia, E.G., Editor510, Edokter, Erianna, Fennertree, Fogeltje, FoxyRhino, Froggity-Frog, Gnottong, Gorf123, GrandpaDoc, Haploidavey, HarryHenryGebel, Hibana, Hifrommike65, Hkchan123, Hornlitz, Horus86, Hyacinth, Indielady, JQF, JRM, JackofOz, Jauhienij, Jeff Silvers, Jerzy, Johan Magnus, Jondude11, Josiah Rowe, Jrtayloriv, Kaobear, Kchishol1970, Kipoc, Kiuheichu, Kleinzach, Kohran, Koweja, Kwamikagami, Kweeket, Lambyuk, LeoNomis, Loadmaster, LodeRunner, LudwigVan, Macoukji, Magioladitis, MajinNecro69, Mani1, Marminnetje, Mboverload, Meegs, MegX, Merphant, Michael Devore, MusiKmatt, NOFmXc, Obersachse, Ocee, Oconnell usa, OldakQuill, Oos, Patrick, Peter cohen, Peyre, Pfistermeister, Phil Urich, Phlegat, Pikawil, Pit, Ppk01, Quaeler, Quarl, RFBailey, Resmc, Rich Farmbrough, Rmhermen, Runefurb, Sannse, Sceptre, Schmendrick, Sehsuan, Shane Lawrence, Shanes, Slicing, Sluzzelin, Smerus, Snaxe920, Sneakums, Someone else, Squeemu, Sroc, StAnselm, Steve Farrell, Tarquin, TheBilly, TheEditrix2, Thebogusman, Think outside the box, Tiger Eye 27, TimMagic, Toadaron, Tristan Morin, Valley2city, Vanderdecken, Violncello, WAS, Wahoofive, Weregerbil, WikiParker, Wolfdog, Wwagner, Xanzzibar, Y2kcrazyjoker4, Yoghurt, Yrithinnd, 282 anonymous edits Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

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