Tip #100 – Score Characters and Themes with Motifs

From Wagner to modern movie scores, motifs (musical ideas) in the form of themes or symbolic gestures are used so often. Often enough that you should be using them yourself.

Ideally, the impact of a motif should be so powerful that I person only needs to listen to the music to know what character is in the shot, or what event is taking place.

Think of motifs as “theme songs” that best represents sonically and acoustically the event that is going on – whether that be a character, a plot point, a mood, an action, etc.

Once things and ideas are assigned motifs, you can do many creative things with them, such as:

  • Combining motifs to create a symbolic union, or conflict
  • Alter motifs to show an undergoing change of a character
  • Play fragments of a motif for foreshadowing or reminding
  • Re-orchestrate motifs to give a new quality
  • Recycling motifs to create continuity

…and much more!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: