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Explain how music was used to reveal characters' personalities in the Broadway Musicals

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Explain how music was used to reveal characters? personalities in the Broadway Musical. The Broadway musical was a time of innovation in the world of musical entertainment as it integrated music into the plot in order to advance it, reveal character, or create mood. Before this, forms of entertainment were provided for amusement only, however, with the Broadway musical came the theme of more serious issues that made audiences think and consider the world in which they lived. ?Showboat? has been suggested as being the first Broadway musical. Kern uses a perfect 4th to represent the Mississippi River in the musical ?Showboat?, which is arguably the protagonist of the entire show. In giving it a leitmotif of its own, Kern establishes its dominance in the musical. However, a triton is employed for Parthy?s motif in order to show her hatred and hostility toward the river. In the opening number, ?Niggers All Work?, hollow chords are used to provide a lack of warmth to the piece. This, along with the detached style of notes shows the hostility the black workers felt toward their white bosses. ...read more.


In the musical ?Anything goes? by Hammerstein, the character of protagonist, Reno Sweeny played by popular singer Ethel Merman is portrayed the numbers she performs. The piece ?Anything Goes? can be used to best reveal her personality and her background; it begins with a strict, march like style with on the beat fanfare interjections and features a downward minor tonic triad. This represents Reno?s current strict lifestyle as an evangelist. However, the music then changes and becomes more upbeat, and legato with long, smooth phrases; this symbolises her previous night club lifestyle. Reno?s leitmotif is triplets and these are prominent in the piece, ?I Get a Kick Out of You?. Reno sings this to Billy and her leitmotif is present when she sings of all the things she does not get a kick out of, but they disappear whenever she tells Billy she gets a kick out of him. Complex rhythms are also associated with Reno to show the complexity of her character. Her evangelist lifestyle is shown also through the song, ?Blow Gabriel Blow?, this piece is an upbeat, gospel like song which makes use of church like features such as an accompanying organ and chorus to represent a church choir. ...read more.


However as she sings, ?Bess You is My Woman Now? with Porgy, she sings a portion of Porgy?s signature song ?When Gawd Made a Cripple?, this shows that Bess is the answer to Porgy?s loneliness. To show their connection, Gershwin uses an F# major chord in their duet which doesn?t appear in any other piece of music throughout the musical. In addition to this, at the end of the opera, Bess sings ?Summertime? to Clara?s baby showing she has been accepted into Catfish Row. The chorus is a central character in ?Porgy and Bess? and the song ?Summertime? is used to show their closeness as a community. Sportin? Life?s motif in ?Porgy and Bess? is a high pitched and eerie to show he is an outsider and triplets demonstrate his snake-like charm. The use of chromaticism symbolises his attempt at seduction and a triton is featured also to show his evil qualities. His leitmotif is dominant when it plays, making other music subordinate showing his dominant personality. For the character of Crown, energetic syncopation is employed to symbolise his highly energetic character. It is clear composers during this time consciously employed musical features to portray to the audience the personalities and themes of characters within their shows. ...read more.

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