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Topic: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

  1. #1

    Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    Pardon my ignorance. I'm hearing expressions a lot such as "uploading your cues" or "writing a cue." I cannot comprehend what that means. Searching dictionaries only provides the definitions I am used to, such as

    a. An extract from the music for another part printed, usually in smaller notes, within a performer's part as a signal to enter after a long rest.

    b. A gesture by a conductor signaling the entrance of a performer or part.

    Clearly, those definitions do not apply. Is anyone good with definitions?

    Your humble servant,
    __________________________________________________ _________________
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  2. #2

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    The expression can mean different things, depending on the context. In the U.S., in musical theater, it's each number in the score. They are called "numbers" because they are literally numbered in the score. They are also called "cues" because the conductor cues the performers when to start each one. "Cues" means pretty much the same thing in film and television. It's each bit of underscoring you write for a given project. Why? Probably because every piece of music in a score isn't given a title, unless it's a song. I expect that uploading your cues means uploading all the pieces of music you have written for a project. Writing a cue would simply mean writing one of these pieces.

    You may find different terminology in England. I know that when English film crews shoot in the states they say "turnover" instead of "rolling" and in the theater they call the intermission the "interval".

    Allegro Data Solutions

  3. #3

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    Good reply, ejr, that answers the question well.

    Here's also a good description from a Wiki entry:

    "...The film score...forms part of the film's soundtrack...and comprises (of) a number of orchestral, instrumental or choral pieces called cues which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question..."

    Film score entry at Wikipedia

    Lots of info on that page, about "spotting," syncing, click tracks etc.


  4. #4

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    Thank you both for your help. I believe I have grasped the concepts. I'm so glad I don't have to think up names for everything!

    Also interested to learn the origin of the term "number". I had always thought it must have something to do with juke boxes!
    __________________________________________________ _________________
    My website: www.tunespace.net

  5. #5

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    As previously explained, I believe this is because cues in a score are literally numbered.

    Allegro Data Solutions

  6. #6

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr View Post
    As previously explained, I believe this is because cues in a score are literally numbered.
    Sorry, my post was ambiguous. I should have said "I was also interested to learn from you" - I did read your helpful post in full, promise!
    __________________________________________________ _________________
    My website: www.tunespace.net

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Suburban NYC

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    Hi Owen, .... I'm on my Wife's laptop and the "Enter/Carriage Return Key is not working (???????), so pardon my run-on! ... Besides EJR's info and your dictionary definition "A" of a cue, a modified definition is also when a more exotic instrument may not be available for a score, and the arranger/orchestrator doesn't provide an actual, separate, alternate part for this possibility. I.E., the exotic English Horn solo may be "cued" in the Bb clarinet's part (when he would normally be resting during the EH solo). If there's a lot of that, then an alternate part is usually copied. Also, many newer-style theater orchestrations do not contain the melody in the instrumentation (only the vocalist(s) provide the melody), but when the show is performed by less-than first-call performers, they may struggle/wander/miss completely the melody without some orchestral support, so the melody may be "cued" in some instrument(s) and the music director will decide if the cues need to be played. Regards, Frank

  8. #8

    Re: Ignorant Englishman asks: What's a "cue"?

    Thanks, Frank, for that extra information. I'm pretty sure I remember playing such a part on my euphonium when we didn't have a Contra-Hurdy-Gurdy available. (OK, I'm sure it wasn't actually one of those! But something exotic.)
    __________________________________________________ _________________
    My website: www.tunespace.net

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