I’ve noticed that in some music spaces, specifically entertainment and gaming, composers rely heavily on character or main themes as recurring motifs. One such instance I’ve heard recently involves playing a short (5-6s) variation on a character’s theme music as a sort of introduction.

For example:

Here, the very beginning is a little phrase that mirrors the character’s larger theme song.

More context:

The introductory variation is played in response to a character’s ability activation. Followed by some irrelevant sound effects, the character’s full theme plays. In this particular game, every character has their own unique theme that follow this exact pattern.

Is there a term or technique for “summarizing” a larger piece of music with an introductory phrase of sorts?

As a follow-up question, is there a technique or approach for how such a larger piece is actually condensed down into a very short phrase that is still musically complete?

In other words, these short introductory “songs” aren’t just a note-for-note portion of the actual theme itself but rather an independent interpretation with some unique harmonic progressions that aren’t found in the theme itself.

  • I've found the phrase "stinger" in Audionetwork to mean an excerpt of a longer piece meant to be used as a greatly summarized ending version, but that doesn't encompass variations on that excerpt.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 7, 2023 at 20:41
  • Although it's not a word in real use (yet), I'd call it "precapitulation".
    – Theodore
    May 10, 2023 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


Is there a term or technique for “summarizing” a larger piece of music with an introductory phrase of sorts?

Well, yes, there's a technique of doing this, and you've summarised it very clearly in your question.

I don't know of any special term for doing this other than just saying 'a short version of the theme' or similar. It's not really a leitmotiv.

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