April 13, 2013

Leit-Motif = L: Blogging from A to Z

This post is brought to you by the letter L.

If you grew up loving Sesame Street or have a kid who watches it quite often, you know where that introduction comes from. Also, it shows you how a recurring device sticks with you.

(also spelled leitmotiv): From the German term for "lead motif," a leit-motif originally was coined by Hans von Wolzuegen to designate a musical theme associated with a particular object, character, or emotion. For instance, the ominous music in Jaws plays whenever the shark is approaching. That particular score is the leit-motif for the shark. In literature, critics have adapted the term leit-motif to refer to an object, animal, phrase, or other thing loosely associated with a character, a setting, or event.  The leit-motif is not necessarily a symbol (though it can be). Rather, it is a recurring device loosely linked with a character, setting, or event. It gives the audience a "heads-up" by calling attention to itself and suggesting that its appearance is somehow connected with its appearance in other parts of the narrative.                  

Actually, my husband came up with two great examples for this one: I am Legend by Richard Matheson and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. Both feature men traveling their life journey with a dog, a companion used to show the reader more about the characters. 

So many wonderful reads use a recurring object or character phrase to build a story and engaging the reader. Think Bond and his shaken-not-stirred martini or Bugs Bunny's "What's Up, Doc?".

For fun, I thought we could play a little game. The following are repetitive phrases associated with a character:
1. Elementary, my dear...
2. Old sport
3. Bah, Humbug 

Do you know who these characters are? Feel free to play along in the comments.

Please visit other L posts here. Wishing everyone a lovely Saturday!


Fairview said...

Interesting. Never knew this but will be on the lookout from now on.

Gwen Gardner said...

#1 is Sherlock Holmes
#3 is Scrooge

I'm stumped on #2

Tia Bach said...

Gwen - Great Gatsby ;-)

Silvia Writes said...

Music and film work miracles when paired right, I think. Like in your example of Jaws. The music for the attack scene and many others was spot on. Made a huge difference. I think most of us remember the scene so well exactely for that reason.
So true, Leit-Motif is an important device.
Enjoyed reading your post.
Silvia @ Silvia Writes

Kit Courteney said...

I got #1 and #3, but #2 escaped me!

Interesting post :)

Kate said...

It's funny because I've never seen all of Jaws, but that iconic music still conjures up such fear if I'm in the ocean.
By the way, I nominated you for a blog award over at my blog today.http://katejarvikbirch.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-liebster-award.html

Tia Bach said...

Kit - It was Gatsby. ;-)

Tia Bach said...

Silvia - So glad you stopped by and appreciated the post. ;-)

Thanks for the award, Kate. I'll feature it after A to Z.

Heidi Mannan said...

I'm going to guess Sherlock Holmes, don't know the second and Scrooge.

Nice to meet you!

Jo Michaels said...

Yup. I was totally stumped on #2 until I read the comments. I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out :) hehe I wish Yassa had a cool soundtrack...