Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Incidental Themes in Señora Acero

When we talked about the incidental music in telenovelas, especially when there is an "evil" character, I immediately thought about the music that accompanies one of the antagonists of Señora Acero, Enriqueta Sabido.

Enriqueta is the hair salon owner who secretly practiced illegal plastic surgery in the back of the salon where many of the protagonists worked, including Sara and Aracely. Whenever she is up to no good, or simply planning or doing something malicious, there is specific music that plays. It's a dark, violin-filled tune that was almost comical to me at first, but now I can recognize that it is definitely essential to the telenovela in terms of building suspense. I have provided a link to a clip below. In the clip, Enriqueta is threatening an old enemy. I think it's interesting because afterward, the scene immediately cuts to Sara, who is literally holding a gun to her sister and her brother-in-law–yet the "suspenseful" tune isn't playing. That is when I knew to recognize it as Enriqueta's "evil theme."

Compared to some of the American television shows I have watched, the incidental music used for suspense is definitely more prevalent in my telenovela. However, I think it speaks to the detail that the production team puts into each episode, because they incorporate a variety of different themes for many characters. As we mentioned in class, some shows like Scandal use a specific theme for a couple throughout, but usually it's just that–for one couple, or one type of moment. In my telenovela, there are a variety of themes used for a greatly larger number of situations, which enhances the drama as it unfolds and also adds another dimension to the characters.


  1. Kyla,

    It is interesting to look at separate telenovelas and see how the music impacts and prepares the viewer for different scenes. I started paying more attention to this as well in my own telenovela, La Reina del Sur. As your telenovela warns the audience when a character is going to do something evil, I have come to realize my telenovela has its own set of cues for certain scenes. For instance, whenever something bad is about to happen to to the main character, Teresa, or when Teresa finds out bad news, dark music with heavy drum beats plays. This music combined with a close up of Teresa's face shows something serious is about to happen. I am almost done watching this series, so I have come to recognize this music and type of shot very well.
    I have also noticed my telenovela plays different music for certain couples. Teresa has three lovers throughout this series and each lover has his own set of music. The music for each love affair is different, reflecting the couple's relationship and Teresa's state in her character development. To be more specific, when Teresa thinks back to her first love with El Guiero, a certain sweeter innocent music plays. This reflects her more innocent and sheltered self with a more immature love. When Teresa's second love, Santiago, was still alive or when she thinks back to him in the show, music that is full of passion and fire comes on, also reflecting their unique love. Finally, her love with Teo has a more grown-up, refined and serious sound to it. Reflecting the woman she has become and the more serious and mature relationship the two share.

  2. Wonderful post! I've enjoyed catching all of the soundtracking cues and incidental music from Telemundo. It seems like the Mexican telenovelas use a much more traditional soundscape. It is a "rosa" style of production, because it places more judgment onto what the audience should be thinking, right? So if we get a deep or shrieking violin strum, we know it's either a bad dude or serious situation.

    My Telenovela is Celia. It was made by Telemundo, but with a more progressive soundtrack. Conga drums, nylon-string guitars, and jovial horns recreate a very Caribbean spice. It's a playfulness that's especially important in such a musically-centered story.

    I have always loved the soundtracking side of the screen. The modern producers who are most successful are giving more and more leeway without harsh audible judgment, letting the consumer decide their opinion as it unfolds. We want that freedom. I think Turkey really raised the bar with the Kara Para Ask soundtrack. Look it up!

  3. Kyla, your thoughts resonate with me about how the incidental music can be somewhat comical. There were definitely points during this lesson that there was no way not to crack a smile about how intense the music was and seemingly overdramatized the scene clip. However, for me, this was something that I associated with telenovelas in my head even before taking this class. While it can seem silly to some, it became an element to telenovelas that I really enjoy because it clues you into the tone of the scene (especially for us non-native speakers) and allows us to get a sense of what's to come.

    My telenovela was El Principe, which is more of a television drama than a true telenovela. Because of this, the music is more in line with those of action dramas such as 24 or the Jason Bourne series. While the type of music and its introduction may differ, the essence is the same - to clue the audience into the scene and add to the intensity. It's something that I originally associated with classic telenovelas, but quickly realized that most shows on television incorporate these incidentals.

  4. It's funny, Kyla, I guess that's just a constant element in telenovelas. In Avenida Brasil, that same kind of ominious, violin-based melody plays every time Carminha is up to something notorious. But honestly, I think that elements like the evil theme music or close-up shots of characters can make the telenovela very predictable. Which is fine, of course! I remember how in the first couple of lectures with Dr. A she explained a couple of times how telenovelas kind of follow a set of elements or guidelines that is proven to be successful with the audience. The audience knows how it ends, the drama and unpredictability comes from the in between. But it seemed kind of foreign to me because American productions have such a constant plot twist culture to them throughout the shows or series. It's a very interesting comparison!