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Elements of a Musical The Score by John Kenrick (Copyright 2000, Revised 2003)

Fantasies AABA Song Types Placement Rhyming

Fantasies The glorious fantasies of MGM's golden age were so potent that they have become part of our culture's ongoing mythology. For example

Scene: a sad group of teenagers sits around wondering how to get their parents, town or school out of serious financial trouble. Suddenly, Mickey Rooney looks up with wide eyes and says, "Hey, why don't we put on a show!?!" Judy Garland gushes with pride and shouts, "Oh, Mickey!," the kids roar their approval, and after a few weeks of writing, rehearsals, and assorted romantic misunderstandings, the show triumphs in their barn, high school gym, or local corral. The Shuberts are in the audience, and they promptly move the show to Broadway and make the kids overnight stars.

Would that it were that easy! Nowadays, every musical play or film including the bad ones came into being through tremendous craft, ruthless determination, and years of unrelenting effort. In the 1800s, producers could throw a show together in a matter of weeks, beef it up with songs by any number of different composers, and raise the few thousand bucks needed to stage it all. But musicals now cost millions to produce, and raising the funds can take several years. Composing the score can take months even years of painstaking effort and revision. To give a show a sense of audible cohesion, it is now standard procedure for the songs to be written by one songwriter or songwriting team, working in close collaboration with the book writer. All these

people have a say in such issues as song structure, song type, and song placement. Each of these is explained below, as is the importance of rhyme.

Showtune Structure: AABA Most showtunes have a verse and a chorus (or "refrain"). The verse sets up the premise of a song and can be of most any length, while the chorus states the main point of the lyric. For example, consider the title song to Oklahoma!. The verse begins "They couldn't pick a better time to start in life," and says how happy the leads will be living in a "brand new state." The chorus starts with a joyous shout of "Ooooo-klahoma," and then sings the praises of that territory. While most composers concentrate their best efforts on the melody for the chorus, there are exceptions. For instance, Jerome Kern's opening verses to "You Are Love" or "All The Things You Are" are ravishing.

Since the early 1900s, the choruses of American popular songs have traditionally been thirty-two bars long, usually divided into four sections of eight bars apiece the AABA form. This format forces composers and lyricists to make their points efficiently acting more as a discipline than a limitation.

A is the main melody, repeated twice in part, so that it can be easily remembered.

B is the release or bridge, and should contrast as much as possible with A.

Then A is repeated a third time, usually with a melodic twist to give the final bars more interest.

If you examine your favorite showtunes, you will find this format used time after time. From Cohan to Jonathan Larson, all modern Broadway composers have worked within this structure. In fact, AABA remained the standard for all popular music until hard rock threw many conventions out the window in the 1960s. Those showtunes that do not use AABA tend to use a slight variation of the form. A song may double the number of bars (four sections of sixteen apiece), or simplify

the form to something like ABA. Some numbers introduce a third melody line at the end (AABC) but the AABA structure and proportions remain the norm.

Song Types Some people think that it is enough for a showtune to be melodic and generally entertaining. That may have been true in the days of Ziegfeld revues and screwball musical comedies, when any song could be inserted into most any show regardless of its connection to the action. Ever since Oklahoma, expectations have changed. Now, each showtune must serve as a dramatic element in a play or film by helping to develop character and/or move the story forward. As much as everyone loves a showstopper, it has to work as a cohesive part of the storytelling process otherwise the only thing it really stops is audience interest. The most memorable show songs tend to gel around three kinds of character experiences

Transition - a moment of change or conversion.

Realization - reaching an insight or new level of understanding.

Decision - after long wrangling, a character finally makes up his or her mind.

Traditional musicals carefully varied the placement of song types, while musicals of the late 20th Century showed an increasing reliance on placing ballad after ballad after ballad . . . yaaaawn! If you are writing a musical, give your audiences a break and vary their melodic diets. The types of songs commonly required in modern musicals can be illustrated with these examples from Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady

Ballads - usually love songs ("On the Street Where You Live"), but they can also philosophize about any strong emotion ("Accustomed to Her Face").

Charm Songs - let a character beguile an audience ("Wouldn't It Be Loverly").

Comedy Numbers - aim for laughs ("A Little Bit of Luck").

Musical Scenes - seamlessly blend dialogue and song, usually with two or more characters ("You Did It").

If you prefer an even simpler approach, the great Bob Fosse said that from a director's point of view there were only three types of show songs. To illustrate, let's take examples from Bernstein and Sondheim's West Side Story

I Am songs Any song that explains a character, a group of characters, or a situation. Examples: "The Jet Song," and "Somewhere."

I Want songs These tell us what characters desire, what motivates them. Most love songs fit into this category. "Something's Coming" and "Tonight" are examples, with the ensemble reprise of "Tonight" giving a rare (and dramatically powerful) opportunity for every major character to simultaneously express what they want. In "A Boy Like That," we see two "I Wants" clash, only to wind up in harmonious agreement on the undeniable power of love.

New songs This includes any number that does not fit the other two categories, usually because they serve special dramatic needs. For example, "Gee, Officer Krupke" let the Jets express their frustrations and gives audiences a breather from the tragic story line. "The Rumble" ballet would also fit this category.

From the 1800s on, traditional musicals tried to include at least one or two songs that might find popular success outside the show. Many a musical did better business when one of its songs became a hit, but the rise of rock pushed showtunes out of pop contention by the mid-1960s. While this made showtunes less profitable, it also took a burden off composers and lyricists. Now they can concentrate on the dramatic needs of their shows, rather than trying to artificially squeeze hits into a score. (Of course, more than a few songwriters would still love the millions a few song hots would bring them they just realize they are not going to get that kind of song hit out of a Broadway score today.)

Song Placement Songs in a musical libretto must be strategically placed at emotional highpoints, those key moments where dialogue is no longer enough. In Hello Dolly, when Dolly Levi comes down the stairs of the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, it would certainly be more realistic if the head waiter just looked at her fondly and said "It's good to have you back, Madam" but what fun would that be? Instead, Dolly and the waiters express the overwhelming joy of their reunion by singing "Hello, Dolly!" Where words are not sufficient, the music and dance take over, bringing the show and its audiences to greater heights.

For a far different example, consider Kander and Ebb's "Pineapple Song" in Cabaret. Turning this particular moment into song was a stroke of genius one that many fine songwriters might have missed. For most of us, there is nothing particularly exciting about getting a pineapple as a gift. But when it is the first token of affection exchanged between two shy middle aged people in the midst of a severe economic depression, it becomes tremendously important. The courtly manners of the grocer and the landlady, set to a romantic tune, makes for one of the most enchanting moments in all of musical theater. The music says what their restrained words cannot, showing just how much each is attracted to the other.

Because song placement is of vital importance in the development of a musical, the composer and lyricist usually work closely with the librettist (the script or "book" writer) to plan each number. Once a show goes into production, the director and producers also have a say in this process. Three song choices are of particular importance

The Opening Number sets the tone for the rest of the show. It is not unusual for this song to be written after the rest of a show is in place. The bawdy farce A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum originally opened by proclaiming that "Love Is In the Air," a bouncy song that left audiences expecting a sweet romantic comedy. Consequently, it took half an act for them to get attuned to the zany farce that followed. Director George Abbott asked for a replacement, and songwriter Stephen Sondheim came up with the raucous "Comedy Tonight." From the moment the new opening was introduced, the entire show got a better reception. (Note shows that open with extended dialogue still set the tone for the evening with their first songs, such as My Fair Lady's "Why Can't the English Teach Their Children How to Speak?")

The Main "I Want" Song comes early in the first act, with one or more of the main characters singing about the key motivating desire that will propel everyone (including the audience) through the remainder of the show. In many cases, these songs literally include the words "I want," "I wish" or "I've got to." Classic examples include My Fair Lady's "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," Carnival's "Mira," The Sound of Music's "I Have Confidence" and "King of Broadway" in The Producers.

The Eleven O'clock Number takes place about midway through Act Two. It can be a ballad ("This Nearly Was Mine" in South Pacific, "Memory" in Cats), charm song ("Hello, Dolly!") or comedy showpiece ("Brush Up Your Shakespeare" in Kiss Me Kate, "Betrayed" in The Producers). It does not necessarily have to mark a climactic moment in the plot, but it must be strong enough to energize the audience for the final scenes. (Note: since curtain times are earlier than in years past, this number now takes place around 10:00 PM.)

The Finale should carry an emotional wallop, leaving audiences with a powerful last impression. This is usually done by reprising one of score's most emotion-packed numbers. Showboat closes with a family reunion as Joe sings another chorus of "Old Man River," and Les Miserables brings on ghosts of the past to sing an encore of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" The far less frequently used alternative approach is to introduce a rousing new song, like "You Can't Stop the Beat" in Hairspray.

A reprise is when all or part of a song is repeated to make a dramatic point and (usually) to energize the end of a scene. In the stage version of Funny Girl, Nick Arnstein sings a reprise of Fanny's "Don't Rain on My Parade" to signify his need for independence and end a crucial scene. Fanny later reprises the same song at the end of the show to declare that life will go on without Nick and to finish the final scene with an emotional flourish.

From the 1800s through the 1940s, some musicals were so loosely constructed that you could easily insert additional numbers by most any composer. Al Jolson's best remembered songs (including "Swanee") were interpolated into existing scores, and no one cared that they had no connection to the story. All that mattered was coming up with a hit that could stop the show.

To either develop the characters or push along the plot, songs must be clear enough for an audience to grasp on first hearing. Anything that confuses an audience damages the dramatic action of the play, so lyricists must make their points in a precise, fresh manner, while composers (and arrangers) must not drown out the words. In August 2002, The New York Times chided the

producers of the long running Rent for allowing the high volume music to drown out Jonathan Larson's all-important lyrics.

It remains a real mark of craftsmanship to write showstoppers that are fully integrated into the rest of a show. Even mediocre musicals are still expected to have a musical moment that makes the audience roar with approval. While some weaker musicals like The Lion King rely on clever staging to get people cheering, a powerhouse song remains the most desirable way to stop a show.

Lyrics: To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? Creative and entertaining use of rhyme has been a hallmark of musical theatre since William S. Gilbert's elevated lyric writing to an art form in the 1880s. Rhyme is one of a lyricist's most potent tools, giving a song much of its comic or dramatic impact. It is easy enough to find words that rhyme the trick is in how a lyricist gets from one of these words to another. Fresh use of language and surprising word arrangements are the hallmarks of great songwriting, and these revolve around the careful placement of rhymes within a song. For example, placing rhymes at the end of lines and within them ("internal rhyme") can add comic impact

Sondheim's "Chrysanthemum Tea" in Pacific Overtures describes "an herb thats superb for disturbances at sea."

Cole Porter's "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" in Kiss Me Kate has such ingenious rhymes as heinous with Coriolanus and fussing with nussing ("nussing" is Porter's playful pseudo-Yiddish version of the word "nothing.")

Creative rhyme can make a difference in any type of showtune, setting classics apart from pedestrian efforts. Porter's ballad "I Get a Kick Out of You" has a famous five part rhyme ("fly-highguy-sky-I") that audiences have loved since Ethel Merman first sang it in Anything Goes (1934).

Obvious, tired rhymes, clichd phrases, or forced non-rhymes (like those found in many rap songs) are distractions that can ruin the effect of a show song. Theatergoers have the right to expect a smooth, professional effort. Of course, the witless scores of Footloose and Saturday Night Fever prove that some audiences will tolerate anything if the volume is deafening enough. If you want to

write a musical, please take the approach that your audience deserves something better. Every lyric in a musical must help tell a story. The great lyricist Dorothy Fields, who's work spanned five decades and involved such composers as Jerome Kern, Jimmy McHugh and Cy Coleman explained it this way

"Sounds and rhyming can be beguiling only when they state exactly what you should say. Don't fall in love with what you believe is a clever rhyme it can throw you. Think about what you want to say and then look for the most amusing or graceful way you can say it."

That covers the bare-bone basics of what goes into a score. But many promising scores sank into oblivion due to badly written librettos. And so it is, justly or not, that most failures are blamed on "the schnook who wrote the book."

Elementos de un Musical La cuenta por Juan Kenrick (Derechos reservados 2000, revisados 2003) Fantasas AABA Tipos de la cancin Colocacin Rima Fantasas Las fantasas gloriosas de MGM' la poca dorada de s era tan potente que tienen parte convertida de nuestro culture' mitologa en curso de s. Por ejemplo - Escena: un grupo triste de adolescentes se sienta alrededor de preguntarse cmo salir sus padres, ciudad o escuela de apuro financiero serio. Repentinamente, Mickey Rooney mira para arriba con los ojos anchos y dice, " Hey, porqu don' t pusimos una demostracin!?! " Judy Garland dice con excesiva efusin con el orgullo y los gritos, " Oh, Mickey! , " los cabritos rugen su aprobacin, y despus de algunas semanas de la escritura, de los ensayos, y de los malentendidos romnticos clasificados, la demostracin triunfa en su granero, gimnasia de la High School secundaria, o corral local. El Shuberts est en la audiencia, y mueven puntualmente la demostracin a Broadway y hacen los cabritos las estrellas de noche. Que era se fcil! Hoy en da, cada juego o pelcula musical - incluyendo las malas - entr en ser con enorme arte, la determinacin despiadada, y aos de esfuerzo implacable. En los 1800s, los productores podran lanzar una demostracin juntos en una cuestin de

semanas, reforzarla con canciones por cualquier nmero de diversos compositores, y levantar los poco mil dlares necesit efectuarlo todo. Pero los musicals ahora cuestan millones al producto, y el aumento de los fondos puede tardar varios aos. Componer la cuenta puede tardar los meses incluso aos - de esfuerzo y de la revisin cuidadosos. Para dar a una demostracin un sentido de la cohesin audible, ahora es procedimiento estndar para que las canciones sean escritas por un compositor o el equipo songwriting, trabajando en la colaboracin cercana con el escritor del libro. Toda esta gente tiene una opinin en las ediciones tales como la estructura de la cancin, el tipo de la cancin, y la colocacin de la cancin. Cada uno de stos se explica abajo, al igual que la importancia de la rima. Estructura de Showtune: AABA La mayora de los showtunes tienen un verso y un estribillo (o " refrain"). El verso fij la premisa de una cancin y puede estar de la mayora de la cualquier longitud, mientras que el estribillo indica la cuestin principal de la lrica. Por ejemplo, considere la cancin del ttulo a Oklahoma!. El verso comienza el " Ellos couldn' seleccin de t un mejor rato de comenzar en la vida, " y dice cmo es feliz los plomos vivirn en un " state." a estrenar; El estribillo comienza con un grito feliz del " Ooooo-klahoma, " y entonces canta las alabanzas de ese territorio. Mientras que la mayora de los compositores concentran sus mejores esfuerzos en la meloda para el estribillo, hay excepciones. Por ejemplo, Jernimo Kern' versos de la abertura de s al " Usted es Love" o " Todas las cosas usted Are" ravishing. Desde los 1900s tempranos, los estribillos de canciones populares americanas han sido tradicionalmente treinta y dos barras de largo, dividido generalmente en cuatro secciones de ocho barras cada uno la forma de AABA. Este formato fuerza compositores y a autores a hacer sus puntos que actan eficientemente ms como disciplina que una limitacin. A es la meloda principal, repetida dos veces - en parte, para poder recordar fcilmente. B es el lanzamiento o el puente, y debe poner en contraste tanto cuanto sea posible con el A. Entonces A se repite una tercera vez, generalmente con una torcedura meldica de dar a las barras del final ms inters. Si usted examina sus showtunes preferidos, usted encontrar este formato utilizado repetidas veces. De Cohan a Jonatn Larson, todos los compositores modernos de Broadway han trabajado dentro de esta estructura. De hecho, AABA segua siendo el estndar para toda la msica popular hasta que el rock duro rechazara a muchas convenciones la ventana en los aos 60. Esos showtunes que no utilizan

AABA tienden a utilizar una variacin leve de la forma. Una cancin puede doblar el nmero de las barras (cuatro secciones de diecisis cada uno), o simplifique la forma algo como el ABA. Algunos nmeros introducen una tercera lnea de la meloda en el extremo (AABC) - pero la estructura de AABA y las proporciones siguen siendo la norma. Tipos de la cancin Alguna gente piensa que es bastante para que un showtune sea meldico y generalmente entretenido. Eso pudo haber sido verdad en los das de revistas de Ziegfeld y de comedias musicales excntricas, cuando cualquier cancin se podra insertar en la mayora de la cualquier demostracin sin importar su conexin a la accin. Desde entonces Oklahoma, las expectativas han cambiado. Ahora, cada showtune debe servir como un elemento dramtico en un juego o pelcula ayudando a desarrollar el carcter y/o a mover la historia adelante. Tanto como cada uno ama un showstopper, l tiene que trabajar como parte cohesiva del proceso de la narracin - si no la nica cosa que para realmente es inters de la audiencia. Las canciones ms memorables de la demostracin tienden a gelificarse alrededor tres clases de experiencias del carcter - Transicin un momento de cambio o de conversin. Realizacin - alcanzar una penetracin o un nuevo nivel de comprensin. Decisin - despus de largo de discutir, un carcter finalmente compone su mente. Los musicals tradicionales variaron cuidadosamente la colocacin de los tipos de la cancin, mientras que los musicals del ltimo vigsimo siglo demostraron una confianza cada vez mayor en poner la balada despus de balada despus de yaaaawn de la balada! Si usted est escribiendo un musical, d a sus audiencias una rotura y vare sus dietas meldicas. Los tipos de canciones requeridas comnmente en musicals modernos se pueden ilustrar con estos ejemplos de Lerner y de Loewe' s mi seora justa Baladas - generalmente canciones de amor (" En la calle donde usted Live"), solamente pueden tambin philosophize sobre cualquier emocin fuerte (" Acostumbrado a su Face"). Las canciones del encanto - deje un carcter seducir a una audiencia (" Wouldn' t sea Loverly"). Nmeros de la comedia - puntera para las risas (" Un poco de Luck"). Escenas musicales inconstil mezcle el dilogo y cancin, generalmente con dos o ms caracteres (" Usted hizo It"). Si usted prefiere un acercamiento incluso ms simple, el gran foso de Bob dijo eso de un director' el punto de vista de s all era solamente tres tipos de canciones de la demostracin. Para ilustrar, let' ejemplos de la toma de s de Bernstein y de Sondheim' historia del lado

oeste de s - Soy canciones - cualquier cancin que explique un carcter, un grupo de caracteres, o una situacin. Ejemplos: " La cancin del jet, " y " Somewhere." Quiero canciones - stas nos dicen qu caracteres desean, qu las motiva. La mayora de las canciones de amor cabidas en esta categora. " Something' s Coming" y " Tonight" son los ejemplos, con la repeticin del conjunto del " Tonight" dando una oportunidad rara (y dramticamente de gran alcance) para que cada carcter importante exprese simultneamente lo que l quiere. En " Un muchacho tiene gusto de eso, " vemos el " dos; I Wants" coincida, slo para enrollar para arriba en el acuerdo armonioso en la energa innegable del amor. Nuevas canciones esto incluye cualquier nmero que no quepa las otras dos categoras, generalmente porque responden a necesidades dramticas especiales. Por ejemplo, " Gee, oficial Krupke" deje los jets expresan sus frustraciones y dan a audiencias un respiradero del argumento trgico. " El Rumble" el ballet tambin cabra esta categora. A partir de los 1800s encendido, los musicals tradicionales intentaron incluir por lo menos uno o dos canciones que pudieron encontrar xito popular fuera de la demostracin. Mucho un musical mejor negocio cuando una de sus canciones se convirti en un golpe, pero la subida de la roca empuj showtunes de la contencin del estallido por los mediados de los aos sesenta. Mientras que este hizo showtunes menos provechosos, tambin tom una carga de compositores y de autores. Ahora pueden concentrar en las necesidades dramticas de sus demostraciones, algo que intentando exprimir artificial golpes en una cuenta. (Por supuesto, ms que algunos compositores todava amaran millones que algunos hots de la cancin los traeran - apenas realizan que no van a conseguir que la clase de cancin golpeada fuera de un Broadway anota hoy.) Colocacin de la cancin Las canciones en un libreto musical se deben poner estratgico en los highpoints emocionales, sos afinan momentos donde est el dilogo no ms bastante. En hola carro, cuando el carro Levi viene abajo de las escaleras del restaurante de los jardines de Harmonia, sera ciertamente ms realista si el camarero principal acaba de mirar su encariado y dijo el " It' s bueno tenerle detrs, Madam" pero qu diversin sa sera? En lugar, el carro y los camareros expresan la alegra de forma aplastante de su reunin cantando el " Hola, carro! " Donde no estn suficientes las palabras, la msica y la danza asumen el control, trayendo la demostracin y a sus audiencias a mayores alturas. Por un ejemplo lejos diverso, considere Kander y Ebb' " de s; Pia Song" en

cabaret. El torneado de este momento particular en la cancin era un movimiento del genio - uno que muchos compositores finos pudieron haber faltado. Para la mayor parte de nosotros, no hay nada que excita particularmente sobre conseguir una pia como regalo. Pero cuando es el primer smbolo del afecto intercambiado entre dos personas envejecidas medias tmidas en el medio de una depresin econmica severa, llega a ser enormemente importante. Las maneras cortesas del especiero y de la casera, sistema a una consonancia romntica, hacen para uno de los momentos ms encantadores de todo el teatro musical. La msica dice lo que no pueden sus palabras refrenadas, demostrando apenas cunto se atrae cada uno al otro. Porque la colocacin de la cancin es de importancia vital en el desarrollo de un musical, del compositor y del trabajo del autor generalmente de cerca con el libretista (la escritura o el " book" escritor) para planear cada nmero. Una demostracin entra una vez la produccin, el director y los productores tambin tienen una opinin en este proceso. Tres opciones de la cancin son de importancia particular - El nmero de la abertura fija el tono para el resto de la demostracin. No es inusual para que esta cancin sea escrita despus de que el resto de una demostracin est en el lugar. La farsa indecente que una cosa divertida sucedi en la manera al foro se abri originalmente proclamando ese " El amor est en el aire, " una cancin animosa que dej a las audiencias que contaban con una comedia romntica dulce. Por lo tanto, tom mitad de un acto para que consigan adaptada a la farsa tonta que sigui. Director George Abbott pidi un reemplazo, y el compositor Stephen Sondheim subi con el " estentreo; Comedia Tonight." A partir del momento que la nueva abertura fue introducida, la demostracin entera consigui un mejor rece