Timothy Liggett

Document Type

Honors Thesis


The term “leitmotif” is often used to describe musical themes found in movies. However, the term originates in opera, which is a more music-focused medium than film. The challenge for composers becomes how to write a memorable theme that is recognizable to the audience but does not distract from the film’s visuals and dialogue. Various films with memorable themes were watched, and these themes were examined to see how they are implemented in their respective films, with special attention paid to commonalities between the themes’ usages. This research finds that memorable themes typically have numerous repetitions, at least one prominent usage in which there is no competing dialogue, and a memorable opening to their melody that makes the theme easily recognizable to viewers. The conclusion is reached that for a theme to be memorable, it should meet the above characteristics, with particular emphasis on having a prominent moment.

Publication Date






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