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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Leitmotif'

Leitmotif Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    leitmotif n : a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a person or situation (as in Wagner's operas) [syn: leitmotiv]
Leitmotif Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Leitmotif \Leit"mo*tif"\ (l[imac]t"m[-o]*t[-e]f"), n. [G.] (Mus.) See Leading motive, under Leading, a.

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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Leitmotif'

A leitmotif (pronounced , “LITE-mow-teef”) (also spelled leitmotiv), is a German word meaning leading motif. It is a little musical theme that is often repeated in a piece of music, very often in opera. The leitmotif is linked in the musical story with a person or a thing or an idea. The leitmotif might be a short tune, but it can also be a rhythm or just a chord.

The word “leitmotif” is sometimes used in other things such as literature. In a book it might be an idea that keeps coming during the story. It can also be used in movies or video games.

The word “leitmotif” is particularly associated with the operas of Richard Wagner. The leitmotif helps to make the story dramatic and bind it together, because it makes the music easier to understand. Sometimes a leitmotif will change during an opera as the character changes. Various dramatic effects can be made with leitmotifs. For example, a leitmotif might be played before a character comes onstage, so the audience will know who is coming before the actor can be seen. Three examples of leitmotifs from Wagner's Ring Cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen are: the leitmotif for the chief god Wotan (a person), the leitmotif for the Tarnhelm, the invisibility helmet, (a thing), and the leitmotif for the Renunciation of Love (an idea).

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