KS3 Music Quiz - Musical Cliches 01 (Questions)

In everyday language, a cliché is a phrase which is often used, or overused, some might say. Clichés are said to show a lack of imagination. In the world of music, things are slightly different. A musical cliché is often a matter of audience interpretation as opposed to following a set of firm rules and definitions. This KS3 music quiz looks at the use of clichés in musical composition, particularly in film and television scores.

Glissando and tremolo are two types of musical cliché. A glissando is a glide from one pitch to another, usually a continuous slide up or down between two notes - think of the sound made by the Clangers. These are glissandos played on swannee (or slide) whistles. A tremolo is a 'trembling' effect brought about by rapidly repeating a note or by varying its loudness.

If you watch a lot of films then you should do well in this quiz. You'll know already how different types of music can affect the mood of a scene, whether happy, romantic, exciting or frightening! Have a go at this quiz and see if you know your musical clichés. Good luck!

1. In terms of cliché, what type of music sounds 'happy'?
[ ] Music in a major key
[ ] Music in a minor key
[ ] Music played loudly
[ ] Music played quickly
2. What type of music sounds 'sad'?
[ ] Music played in a major key
[ ] Music played in a minor key
[ ] Music played slowly
[ ] Music with rapidly alternating time signatures
3. Musical cliché can be found in .......
[ ] video game music
[ ] film music
[ ] classical music
[ ] All of the above
4. What is the purpose of musical cliché in film?
[ ] To generate dramatic effect
[ ] To heighten the sense of excitement
[ ] To bring out emotion or warn the audience of danger
[ ] All of the above
5. What effect might a glissando best serve in film?
[ ] To represent the 'sound' of someone slipping up
[ ] To represent a gun firing
[ ] To represent a high speed chase scene
[ ] None of the above
6. The use of tremolo in film is most commonly found in .......
[ ] action films - often played on a drum
[ ] animation films - often played on a triangle
[ ] comedy films - usually played on a piano
[ ] horror films - often played on an organ
7. A fast musical passage is most representative of .......
[ ] the sun rising in a film
[ ] the sun setting in a film
[ ] a high speed chase in a film
[ ] a slow and uneventful scene in a film
8. What is the function of a sudden dynamic in a film?
[ ] To add a sense of love in an emotional scene
[ ] To provide an unprovoked 'jump' in a horror scene
[ ] To decrease tension in a scene
[ ] None of the above
9. Which is likely to have high sounding string parts?
[ ] A horror film
[ ] A romantic film
[ ] An animation film
[ ] Theoretically, all of the above
10. What is the function of syncopation in film score?
[ ] To provide a feeling of psychological uncertainty
[ ] To provide the viewer with a feeling of calm
[ ] To assist as an audible 'bridge' between scenes
[ ] All of the above
KS3 Music Quiz - Musical Cliches 01 (Answers)
1. In terms of cliché, what type of music sounds 'happy'?
[x] Music in a major key
[ ] Music in a minor key
[ ] Music played loudly
[ ] Music played quickly
Major keys seem to conjure up positive, happy feelings
2. What type of music sounds 'sad'?
[ ] Music played in a major key
[x] Music played in a minor key
[ ] Music played slowly
[ ] Music with rapidly alternating time signatures
Remember, major = happy, minor = sad
3. Musical cliché can be found in .......
[ ] video game music
[ ] film music
[ ] classical music
[x] All of the above
And more! Think about it - most music is full of cliché
4. What is the purpose of musical cliché in film?
[ ] To generate dramatic effect
[ ] To heighten the sense of excitement
[ ] To bring out emotion or warn the audience of danger
[x] All of the above
The same can be said in games, music, tv etc.
5. What effect might a glissando best serve in film?
[x] To represent the 'sound' of someone slipping up
[ ] To represent a gun firing
[ ] To represent a high speed chase scene
[ ] None of the above
A glissando could also be used to represent sirens
6. The use of tremolo in film is most commonly found in .......
[ ] action films - often played on a drum
[ ] animation films - often played on a triangle
[ ] comedy films - usually played on a piano
[x] horror films - often played on an organ
This is particularly true of 1960s classic horror films
7. A fast musical passage is most representative of .......
[ ] the sun rising in a film
[ ] the sun setting in a film
[x] a high speed chase in a film
[ ] a slow and uneventful scene in a film
First and foremost, it is highlighting tension
8. What is the function of a sudden dynamic in a film?
[ ] To add a sense of love in an emotional scene
[x] To provide an unprovoked 'jump' in a horror scene
[ ] To decrease tension in a scene
[ ] None of the above
I'm sure you'll have seen a film in which a character is creeping around to slow, quiet music. Suddenly, a face appears in front of them, making you jump, and a loud burst of music adds to the effect
9. Which is likely to have high sounding string parts?
[ ] A horror film
[ ] A romantic film
[ ] An animation film
[x] Theoretically, all of the above
It is usually other factors which affect mood, like key, dynamics and the like
10. What is the function of syncopation in film score?
[x] To provide a feeling of psychological uncertainty
[ ] To provide the viewer with a feeling of calm
[ ] To assist as an audible 'bridge' between scenes
[ ] All of the above
Syncopation is, in essence, rhythmic tension