Stand by, lights. Cue music.

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amateurr

Senior Member
Russian
Mark is at a fashion show talking on the phone, "Stand by, lights. Cue music."

Could you tell me what he means by that?

Thanks!
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    He is giving instructions to those responsible for the lighting and music to be prepared to start. In "stand-by" mode, everything is ready to be started on a signal. Similarly, when music is cued-up it is ready to be started on a signal.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    A comment: I think better punctuation would be
    Stand by... Lights. Cue music. As in Stand by... Lights. Camera. Action. (Note that none of the last three is a secondary "stand by" order.)

    Which causes a question for me which perhaps some film directors here can answer. It would be odd to tell the music guy to stand by twice (Stand by and Cue), so I'm wondering if Cue is an adjective rather than a verb.

    I have only a rudimentary knowledge of what I'm asking, but I think that cue music is music that's timed to an event -- such as when the first model steps onto the runway -- as opposed to background music, for example, which plays throughout whatever is happening and which doesn't have to match certain action cues.

    So I'm thinking that Stand by tells everyone to get ready. Then Lights tells the lighting engineer to turn on the lights. And Cue music tells the sound engineer to turn on the cue music.

    Anything thoughts on this would be appreciated.
     

    spodulike

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Cue music" is an instruction to start the music.

    It is saying "I hereby give the cue for the music to start"

    It can also be an imperative, i.e. an instruction to the stage manager to give the nod to the conductor or sound engineer to start the music
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "Cue music" is an instruction to start the music.
    It is saying "I hereby give the cue for the music to start"
    It can also be an imperative, i.e. an instruction to the stage manager to give the nod to the conductor or sound engineer to start the music
    That's the way I've understood it but then I looked it up in the Compact Oxford and found this: set a piece of audio or video equipment in readiness to play (a particular part of a recording).

    And obviously other people think its a cue to get ready. So I was looking for a way around the waiting in order to get right into the playing. Perhaps the meaning has moved on from "in readiness."
     

    spodulike

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That's the way I've understood it but then I looked it up in the Compact Oxford and found this: set a piece of audio or video equipment in readiness to play (a particular part of a recording).

    And obviously other people think its a cue to get ready. So I was looking for a way around the waiting in order to get right into the playing. Perhaps the meaning has moved on from "in readiness."
    Yes but it is the context that makes the difference. It would be silly to switch the lights on and then tell the engineer to start fiddling around with tapes and CDs.

    Surely this is a case where there are two meanings. (1) to "cue up" the music, ready for later performance and (2) to actually start the music.

    However, you have sown a doubt in my mind so let´s await further comments.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    However, you have sown a doubt in my mind so let's await further comments.
    That was never the intention... I understand it just as you do: start playing. It was only the dictionary that tripped me up. So my way out of the dictionary dilemma was either to figure that 1) "cue music" was an adjective/noun, or 2) the definition has changed in popular usage. But (2) strikes me as an odd explanation because I think it's been "Cue music" (play music) for as long as I can remember... I can't imagine Oxford being too far behind the times.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    All right, stepping away from the Oxford definition, I found these two definitions online:

    Dictionary.com: to insert, or direct to come in, in a specific place in a musical or dramatic performance (usually fol. by in or into): to cue in a lighting effect.

    YourDictionary.com
    Music: a gesture or written device used to signal the entry of one or more instrumentalists or vocalists

    So I am once again comfortable that cue music means to start playing it, not get ready to play it.
     

    spatula

    Senior Member
    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    As a tv producer, I can talk with a certain amount of authority on this one. It has been covered correctly already by some above but, just to confirm, if the director instructs anyone to 'stand by' it is a command to be ready in your positions to start the next sequence, as it will be your turn next to do whatever has been rehearsed. This can be said to lighting, sound, tape ops, floor manager - anyone really. An instruction to 'cue' means go ahead / start the next sequence.

    It's terminology which is often used out of context which might explain why in this case it was said over the phone - a director would never actually give instructions to the crew over the phone. 'Lights, camera, action!' are also heard simply to mean that something is about to begin - whether it's a performance or not.
     
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