We all know the Imperial March from Star Wars that plays practically every time we see Darth Vader on screen. This can be either a theme or a motif. Themes are well developed musical ideas – think the Raiders March from the Indian Jones movies. A motif is more of a snippet, it tends to be shorter than a fully developed theme, or sometimes it’s just part of a theme – think Jaws, all you need to hear is 2 notes and there it is. Using themes and/or motifs for specific characters can be a very effective way to further your story, but like all things, overdoing it can lessen the impact. Keep in mind not every character necessarily needs a motif, and you don’t have to use the motif every single time you see the character, you can keep it for key moments.
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