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Comment on how composers communicated emotion in musicals.

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Introduction

Comment on how composers communicated emotion in musicals. Before the 1900s, musical productions were solely for entertainment purposes; pantomimes, minstrels, and, burlesques were parodies and before the 1927 musical, ?Showboat?, serious issues and emotions were not dealt with. Song and dance were used as amusement and were not integrated into the story line at all. ?Showboat? was based on the 1926 book by Edna Ferber and opens with a ?Niggers All Work?, a worksong which features hollow chords; chords lacking thirds, in the accompaniment which gives the song no warmth. The detached singing and accents on the off-beats represent the black workers? hostility and aggressiveness toward their white bosses. This is then juxtaposed against by the white chorus which is lyrical and legato representing the ease of their lives. Joe represents all of the coloured workers through his solo, ?Ol? Man River?, another worksong demonstrated through the lyrics, ?Tote dat barge, lif? dat bale? but also has aspects of a spiritual, ?Gitting? no rest til? de judgement day?. ...read more.

Middle

?Lonely Room? from ?Oklahoma!? is sung by Judd, the villain of the production. It is the only song in a minor key reflecting his dark feelings of loneliness; however, his fluctuating emotions are illustrated by the changing patterns of the vocal melody; the start is recitative-like, using a limited range of notes, but after he sings, ?And I'm better ?n that smart aleck cowhand?, the melody breaks out of this and moves freely to dramatically higher notes, showing his intentions to liberate himself from his circumstances. Jud?s final note is a C sharp, forming a dischord with B minor which shows his emotions are still dark. ?Carousel? was produced two years after ?Oklahoma!? and had almost the exact same production team. Its number, ?If I Loved You? is a duet in which the lovers Julie and Billy sing, never at the same time, but the same musical material to show that they both love each other but are reluctant to express their emotions. ...read more.

Conclusion

The diatonic A section creates the effect of a simple and direct emotional expression, while the B section which is more chromatic reflects her wish to escape into a less painful fantasy. However, the final chord which is an inversion of the dominant accompanied by a low note in the melody show that, as far as Elphaba?s emotions are concerned; the story is not finished yet. In contrast, ?Oh, I Can?t Sit Down? from ?Porgy and Bess? portrays emotions of high spirits as a crowd prepare to go to a church picnic on Kittiwah Island. This excitement is portrayed through the opening fanfare sequence with a syncopated motif presented antiphonally between low and high brass and percussion and fast, swirling strings and xylophone. The unison vocal writing maintains a sense of shared excitement. In summation, it was not just the plot and script that allowed the audience to gain insight into how characters were feeling; music supported this and enhanced their emotions, allowing them to be communicated more easily and effectively. ...read more.

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