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You have probably noticed that many of the most emotionally impactful moments in TV shows, movies, plays, and video games are often accompanied by music that clearly adds to the moment. This is known as incidental music, and it can be one of the most important elements involved with any type of content that you are creating. Building a strong understanding of this important musical genre can play a crucial role in your efforts to connect with your audience.
To be more specific about the definition of incidental music, it can be described as background music in a presentation that is not primarily musical in nature. This music can range from simple tones to music that occurs between scenes. It is intended to add an atmospheric element to the story that is being told and can heighten the overall impact of key moments in the medium where it occurs. With these points in mind, it is worth taking some time to look at incidental music’s history and its various forms to give you a better idea of why it can be so important to moving along a compelling storyline.
The History of Incidental Music
The history of incidental music goes back further than you may realize. The use of music to enhance the drama and emotion of theatrical productions extends back to ancient Greece. It was used by ancient Greek playwrights to enhance some of the most renowned dramas, comedies, and tragedies of the time. Incidental music was also utilized by many composers during the classical era of the 1700s and the 1800s to create desired impacts during stage productions.
With the advent of radio, film, and television in the 20th century, incidental music found a new home as these genres are ideal mediums for its use. From early radio and silent film to today’s modern television shows, incidental music has played a significant role in 20th and 21st-century entertainment. It has also become a mainstay of today’s video games.
The Various Types of Incidental Music
There are five primary categories that incidental music can be grouped into. They each serve a specific function in terms of adding atmosphere and dramatic effect to plays, TV shows, video games, radio productions, and films. Understanding these five types of incidental music can be highly valuable to you if you need to purchase royalty free music subscriptions for content that you are creating. The five incidental music categories include:
The Theme Song – A theme song is a type of incidental music that appears at the start or the end of a performance, television show, or radio broadcast. It may also occur in one form or another throughout other parts of the performance.
The Underscore – The underscore refers to a soundtrack that is used as an accompaniment to action that is currently ongoing during your content.
The Overture – The overture is a category of incidental music that generally occurs before a performance, film, or TV show begins. Its theme is often repeated at other times during the content.
The Stinger – The stinger refers to a brief moment of music that generally occurs during a transition in the content where it appears.
Loops – Loops are a type of recorded musical sequence that can be repeated as required throughout a piece of content.
How Does Incidental Music Impact the Emotions of the Viewer/Listener?
The bottom line that you should understand about the importance of incidental music is its ability to enhance the emotional experience that your audience has while listening to or viewing your content. The impact that incidental music can have on an audience has been a topic of study that has revealed some interesting results. It represents a manipulation of the environment that can generate the desired reaction from the audience that is engaging with the specific content in question. This fact adds emphasis to why you can benefit from the use of carefully chosen incidental music in your content.
As you can see, incidental music can play an absolutely crucial role in creating the emotional impact that you are aiming for in your content. If you are creating a movie, TV show, video game, play, or any other type of content that involves impactful moments, the use of incidental music can help you to better connect with the audience that is consuming it.