Incidental music

Incidental music is music in a play, television program, radio program, video game, film or some other form 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 adds 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, such as its use in the film "The Insider". It may also include pieces which will provide the main interest for the audience, for example overtures, or music played during scene changes, or at the end of an act, immediately preceding an interlude, such as in the classic television series "" (as well as in the other "Star Trek" television series). 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 Greek drama. A number of classical composers have written incidental music for various plays, with the more famous examples including Ludwig van Beethoven's "Egmont" music, Franz Schubert's "Rosamunde" music, Felix Mendelssohn's music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Georges Bizet's music for "L'Arlesienne", 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.

Modern composers of stage music include John White. One of the best known incidental music composers for British television is Howard Goodall, who wrote music for "The Gathering Storm", "Blackadder", and "Red Dwarf", as well as the film "Bean".

External links

* [http://diamond.boisestate.edu/gas/foresters/for_webop.html "The Foresters" Web Opera] - Score by Sir Arthur Sullivan for a play by Lord Alfred 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.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • incidental music — music intended primarily to point up or accompany parts of the action of a play or to serve as transitional material between scenes. [1860 65] * * * Music composed to accompany a play. The practice dates back to ritualistic Greek drama, and it is …   Universalium

  • incidental music — n [U] music played during a play, film etc that helps produce a particular feeling …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • incidental music — noun uncount music that is played in the background of a movie, play, or television program and helps to create a particular feeling or mood …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • incidental music — ► NOUN ▪ music used in a film or play as a background …   English terms dictionary

  • incidental music — n. music played in connection with the presentation of a play, film, poem, etc. in order to heighten the mood or effect on the audience …   English World dictionary

  • incidental music — noun Music that is played as a background to a film, television programme, video game, etc. The incidental music helped give the programme its evocative atmosphere …   Wiktionary

  • incidental music — N UNCOUNT In a film, play, or television programme, incidental music is music that is played to create a particular atmosphere …   English dictionary

  • incidental music — UK / US noun [uncountable] music music that is played in the background of a film, play, or television programme and helps to create a particular feeling or mood …   English dictionary

  • incidental music — noun music composed to accompany the action of a drama or to fill intervals between scenes • Hypernyms: ↑musical composition, ↑opus, ↑composition, ↑piece, ↑piece of music …   Useful english dictionary

  • incidental music — noun Date: 1864 descriptive music played during a play to project a mood or to accompany stage action …   New Collegiate Dictionary


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