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How to pronounce leitmotif (audio)


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Dictionary definition of leitmotif

A recurring theme or motif that is used to represent a particular idea, character, or emotion in a piece of music, literature, or art.
"The film's leitmotif of loneliness is reflected in the score and imagery."


Detailed meaning of leitmotif

It is a German term that translates to "leading motif" and is commonly used in the context of classical music and opera. A leitmotif can be a melody, a chord progression, a rhythm, or a phrase, and it is often associated with a specific character or theme within a larger work. It is used to help establish a sense of continuity and coherence throughout the work, and to help reinforce the emotional or dramatic impact of certain moments. Leitmotifs can also be found in other forms of art, such as literature and film, where they are used to signify particular characters or themes. In essence, 'leitmotif' implies that a particular musical or artistic element is used repeatedly throughout a work to create a sense of unity, coherence, and emotional resonance.

Example sentences containing leitmotif

1. The composer used a recurring leitmotif to symbolize the protagonist's inner turmoil.
2. Throughout the novel, the author wove a leitmotif of loss and redemption.
3. The film's leitmotif, a haunting melody, underscored the tragic love story.
4. The painting featured a leitmotif of vibrant red hues, symbolizing passion and intensity.
5. The leitmotif of freedom was present in every chapter of the historical narrative.
6. The playwright cleverly inserted a leitmotif of mirrors to explore the theme of self-identity.

History and etymology of leitmotif

The noun 'leitmotif' has its etymological origins in German. It is a combination of two German words: 'leit,' meaning 'leading' or 'guiding,' and 'Motiv,' meaning 'motive' or 'theme.' Coined by the German composer Richard Wagner in the 19th century, 'leitmotif' was introduced as a musical term to describe a recurring musical theme or motif that is used to represent a particular idea, character, or emotion in an opera or other forms of musical composition. Wagner's innovative use of leitmotifs in his operas, such as 'The Ring of the Nibelung,' had a profound influence on music and storytelling, and the term has since transcended its musical origins to describe any recurring theme or motif in literature, art, or even everyday life that serves as a guiding or symbolic element, enhancing the narrative or overall meaning of a work.

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Further usage examples of leitmotif

1. The leitmotif of waves crashing against the shore evoked a sense of serenity in the artwork.
2. The poem's leitmotif of flight conveyed a longing for escape from worldly troubles.
3. The architect incorporated a leitmotif of arches and columns throughout the building's design.
4. The dancer's performance showcased a leitmotif of fluid movements and graceful transitions.
5. The story's leitmotif of transformation resonated with readers who yearned for personal growth.
6. The leitmotif of clocks ticking served as a metaphor for the passage of time in the play.
7. The fashion designer incorporated a leitmotif of floral patterns in her spring collection.
8. The leitmotif of betrayal and revenge fueled the tension in the gripping crime thriller.
9. The leitmotif of raindrops falling was a recurring motif in the artist's series of paintings.
10. The novel's leitmotif of unanswered questions left readers pondering the mysteries.
11. The leitmotif of laughter echoed throughout the comedy club as the audience erupted in joy.
12. The writer used a leitmotif of stars to symbolize hope and aspiration in the story.
13. The leitmotif of solitude resonated with the introspective tone of the musician's album.
14. The leitmotif of exploration was evident in the explorer's journals, chronicling their adventures.



motif, dissonance, randomness, discord


SAT 18 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Insight and Intrigue, Art and Creativity

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