This is a technical term in theater and movie arts for a stereotyped piece of music that is played to cue the audience that a scene is set in a particular location.


London --> Rule Britannia
Italy --> O sole Mio
German --> Oompah music
New York/Broadway --> No Business like Show business
  • "Riff"? e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_riff
    – Tatpurusha
    May 27, 2014 at 21:57
  • 3
    This is perhaps an extended sense of 'leitmotif'. May 27, 2014 at 22:16
  • I think the word I'm thinking of is a conceptual subset of letimotif but I think there is an even more specific term in the jargon. A letimotif can attach to characters or events, this attaches just to places.
    – TechZen
    May 27, 2014 at 23:34
  • @TechZen It's called Leitmotif Aug 12, 2015 at 6:36

2 Answers 2


Program music is “A form of art music that attempts to convey a scene, image, or mood”.

The soundscape-related terms keynote sounds and soundmark also may be slightly relevant:

...keynote sounds may not always be heard consciously, but they "outline the character of the people living there" (Schafer).
A soundmark is a sound which is unique to an area

  • Soundscape is a different kind of animal. I suppose you've read the WP you cited.
    – Kris
    May 28, 2014 at 9:35

Signature tune or theme song; both are usually meant to identify a performer (Bing Crosby: "Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day) or a band (Glenn Miller: "Moonlight Serenade"; Jack Hylton: "She Shall Have Music"), but you also have this with regions and countries.


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