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date: 17 May 2021

Incidental musiclocked

  • Roger Savage


In the theatre, music performed as part of the performance of a spoken drama. See also Film music, Radio and Television.

Music has been closely linked with theatre since theatre began. Dance music and song have played important roles in much folk drama. The classic forms of Asian theatre from India to Japan rely heavily on music, as do the dramatic rituals of sub-Saharan Africa and of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The major Western theatrical forms include several in which music is all but continuous (medieval liturgical drama, ballet de cour, ballet d’action and classical ballet, 18th-century pantomime, some types of opera, much ‘modern dance’), as well as several in which extended musical sections alternate on at least equal footing with passages of spoken dialogue: zarzuela, masque in most of its varieties, comédie-ballet, semi-opera, 18th-century vaudeville, ballad opera, Singspiel, opéra comique, operetta, musical comedy, the ‘musical’ and some music theatre. That only leaves the kinds of Western drama which put especially strong emphasis on spoken dialogue (‘plays’); and these too have very often availed themselves of music between their dialogue scenes and/or at points during them. There is no one term that groups together all the types of predominantly spoken drama using music in this latter way; but the music they call on is known in several European languages as ‘stage music’ (Fr. ...

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Proceedings of the Musical Association