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A lietmotif is not one of many musical forms, but is used in musical form. Hyacinth 23:43, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I am a German native speaker and i wonder, why it is called "leitmotif" with "f" in English. In German we always write "Leitmotiv", the same as we do with other borrowing from Latin ending in "-ivus" ("Infinitiv" [infinitive], "aktiv" [active] etc.).

Most likely due to influence from the word "motif" (borrowed from French, and also existent in German as "Motiv"). EldKatt (Talk) 19:43, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
It also means English speakers pronounce the German terminal "v" correctly! Mswake 09:59, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music by Michael Kennedy (Oxford University Press 1991, p.366), leitmotiv is the correct English Spelling and it is "often misspelt" leitmotif. I'm wondering why the article title is the misspelling of the term. I suggest a change to the article name. (talk) 03:19, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
General purpose dictionaries disagree. "Misspelling" has nothing to do with its form in its origin language, or some imagined inner logic. What is right is defined by whatever most people say, and indeed that is what dictionaries document. General purpose dictionaries like Merriam-Webster say it's an acceptable spelling, therefore it's acceptable as the article title. We do not change titles because of spelling preferences (color -> colour) — TheBilly(Talk) 08:33, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Replying to this years old thread, I noticed that the OED's entry is "leitmotiv", although it says "Forms: Also leitmotif, leitmotive". I suppose a case could be made for leitmotiv being "more correct", but in practice, as far as I have seen, leitmotif is more common. Pfly (talk) 10:00, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Idee fixe[edit]

I was redirected here from the entry on "idee fixe" - I would like to question this redirection, they're not the same thing, are they? Mswake 09:59, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree, and have changed the redirect at idée fixe so it points to the disambiguation page obsession instead of leitmotif; I think that's more accurate. There's no point in having the page be more than a redirect, because I suspect it would be nothing more than a dictionary definition (which would violate WP:NOT). However, I note that wiktionary doesn't have a definition for idée fixe yet... —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:01, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

- As I understand it, Idée fixe IS musically distinct from leitmotif and not just a way of saying it with a French accent. I think there should at least be a note on the leitmotif page on Idee Fixe, explaining the distinction. 20:45, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

This appears to have been done. Hyacinth (talk) 07:45, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

I am no longer seeing an idée fixe disambiguation page. I believe that the term has a meaning in psychology quite apart from its use in musicology. How would one go about getting the disambiguation page reinstated? Pzriddle (talk) 18:26, 13 July 2010 (UTC)


  • "leitmotif (Fr), leitmotiv (Ger), leading motive
  • A striking melodic fragment or chord representing a dramatic character, a signifigant object, an emotion or an idea...As parts of complex polyphonic textures they can also generate a purely musical drama and function as unifying elements that give shape to large musical structures."
    • Ashkenazy, Vladimir (2000). The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Classical Music, p.350. ISBN 0823076989.


  • "In Nintendo's Super Mario World the music would have instruments added when a Yoshi was present, and the music would also speed up to symbolize that time was running out for a particular level."

I removed the above as it has nothing to do with Leitmotifs. Hyacinth 22:42, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

You should explain why it has nothing to do with Leitmotifs. With all due respect, I assume that you understand the connection that the original author had in mind. That a particular change in musical style to reflect something happening in the game is not considered a Leitmotif -- why?

Please sign your posts on talk pages per Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks! Hyacinth 20:51, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
In answer to your question, what is described is not a theme, but simply additional accomaniment and a change in tempo. See the definition in the section directly above. Hyacinth 21:37, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Popular Music section[edit]

Pink Floyd does not use leitmotifs. They have recurring melodies and sections that may resemble leitmotifs. The same is true for many of the refrences in this section. the Nine Inch Nails entry describes a "gesture" and not a leitmotif.

Please sign your posts on talk pages per Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks! Hyacinth 06:34, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Pink Floyd may use motives in addition to riffs. We need a citation or example, perhaps in The Wall? Hyacinth 07:00, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
I can't say much about the wall or the final cut, but dark side of the moon DEFINATELY doesn't use leitmotives. Many of the other examples, but i would deffinately question the use of leitmotives in the 2 dream theater albums given. They both have recurring ideas throughout the album, but mainly expressed through the lyrics rather than through recuring motives, a much better example would be their album metropolis, which DOES use leitmotives throughout.
Perhaps one of the problems here is making clear if leitmotives are purely musical things or if you're extending that to all other kinds of recuring themes (ie in lyrics), in which case that would bring a LOT of stuff under the heading of leitmotiv, i personally think the deffinition should be kept purely musical. --Raichev II 12:33, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Whatever it is Nine Inch Nails uses in The Downward Spiral, I'm pretty sure the claim that it recurs in the song "Every Day is Exactly The Same" is wrong. I can't identify the theme anywhere. Dxdt 03:43, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
To the anonymous person who altered my previous post, I am aware that there is a piano part at the beginning of the song. I dispute the claim that it resembles the music in The Downward Spiral. As far as I can tell, there is no similarity other than the fact that it's a piano and it begins with a descending scale. In that respect, it resembles at least half a dozen other NIN songs. That doesn't make it relevant to the article. Dxdt 20:55, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
Granted, this discussion is now moot, as it's been removed from the article. Dxdt 21:02, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Darth Vader! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:51, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

The Wall is probably the only Pink Floyd album that uses leitmotifs, but they're definitely in there. And while I can't deny that there are leitmotifs within some of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, I would question their notability. The It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World soundtrack uses them too I guess. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:51, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

The article specifically notes that leitmofifs are often used in video game music, however there wasn't a single link to any kind of video game reference. Any musician worth his salt that is familiar with video games and video game music would recognize the Nobuo's use of leitmotifs throughout his career. I did not know how to properly cite this fact so I added a citation needed for the time being.
Followup edit: I've added a very general citation for Nobuo Uematsu's work.
From the Source: Since Wagner, the use of leitmotifs has been taken up by many other composers. Richard Strauss used the device in many of his operas and several of his symphonic poems. The Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu used them in many of his Final Fantasy RPG series soundtracks, where many characters in the games had their own musical "theme". I can provide specific songs in several of the Final Fantasy games where this is noted if necessary.
-Deathsythe (talk) 12:16, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

First of all, I think that the classification of film music as "popular music" is both degrading and inaccurate. According to Wikipedia's own Popular Music Genres page, it specifically exempts film music from such a classification. Whether or not it is to be considered "classical" is debatable, though some composers considered classical have written film scores, and some film score composers have written concert pieces. Furthermore, I think that John Williams' use of leitmotif (whatever his failings) is actually pretty sophisticated, and doesn't simply fall into Adorno's criticism, which relates to the repetitive nature of leitmotif used simply to placate an audience with familiarity. I'd wager that most audiences who saw Star Wars didn't notice a good number of the transformations of the various motifs and what they signified.

I'd like to add that there are indeed video game scores that use leitmotif, not just simply repeated themes. Uematsu's not actually a very good example, but he does use some leitmotivic elements from time to time. Hitoshi Sakimoto's usage is much closer to Wagner's; see Vagrant Story for an excellent example. Xenofan 29A (talk) 23:07, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

What about the use of leitmotifs in Howard Shore's score to the Lord of the Rings? He makes extensive use of themes tied to certain characters, places, and moods, as well as interweaving variations on them in response to the plot. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:07, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Peter and the Wolf[edit]

Editors have claimed that Peter and the Wolf is an example of leitmotif practice, and have placed this in the lead section. No academic or appropriate references have been given however. I suggest that:

1) the appropriate place for any such comments are not in the lead, and that
2) Peter and the Wolf does not exhibit leitmotifs, but simply themes.

I have therefore deleted the reference to PatW.

In support of adducing PatW an editor has proposed this Google book link. I'm not however happy about accepting 'Musical Composition for Dummies' or the other, almost entirely non-musical, works this brings up, as authoritative for these purposes.

I quote from Grove Music Online - ' A leitmotif is to be distinguished from a reminiscence motif (Erinnerungsmotiv), which, in earlier operas and in Wagner’s works up to and including Lohengrin, tends to punctuate the musical design rather than provide the principal, ‘leading’ thematic premisses for that design.' PatW has many 'Errinerungsmotiven' but I await any musicological reference that would call them leitmotifs.

Comments are welcome. Thanks, --Smerus (talk) 19:07, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

I know you've looked at the introduction to this article, since that is where you say Peter and the Wolf was placed as an example. From what I read above, it sounds like you not only have a problem with the example, but with the introduction, which reads: "‘leitmotif’...refer[s] to a recurring theme". Hyacinth (talk) 01:09, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Good point, and I have corrected the lead with a referenced source to remedy this. I also de-italicised 'leitmotif' which is an anglicization of the German Leitmotiv.--Smerus (talk) 06:50, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
I have now added further sources and rewritten parts of the lead for purposes of clarification.--Smerus (talk) 11:52, 21 October 2012 (UTC)