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Outline characteristics of musicals composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein

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Introduction

Outline characteristics of musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein Between 1943 and 1993, Rodgers and Hammerstein composed 12 musicals; they created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, initiating what is considered the "golden age" of musical theatre. Their musical theatre writing partnership has been called the greatest of the 20th century. It was their first musical, ?Oklahoma!? written in 1943 that made it clear that the era of the Broadway Musical was finished and new one had begun; this is known as the Exploration and Expansion Era. It was the revolutionary opening of ?Oklahoma!? that did this as, unlike its predecessors, this musical opened with the solo voice of the protagonist, Curley with the first verse of the opening number, ?Oh What a Beautiful Morning? sung off stage. This replaced the popular opening chorus number which usually opened any musical. In fact, the first chorus number isn?t presented until the second act! ...read more.

Middle

Word painting also integrated music into the plot of ?Oklahoma!? and can be seen when Curley sings, ?right up to the sky? with a rising accompaniment. Every number within this musical is in a major a part from one; ?Lonely Room?. This is sung by the ?villain?, Judd. It lacks lyricism and has a dissonant, pulsing crotchet ostinato to show his villainous nature. However, the recitative-like melody with limited range of pitch expands upwards as Judd resolves to free himself from his circumstances. However, the integration within, ?Oklahoma!? was not limited to the use of music as ballet is also used during a dream to show drama and reveal the plot as is the dance scene that logically arises from the plot in the barn dance at the beginning of act 2. It was stated that, ?the orchestration sounds the way the costumes look?; every aspect of this musical was integrated. ...read more.

Conclusion

Chromaticism is used again in ?Carousel? through the use of augmented chords in ?The Carousel Waltz?. To accompany Roger?s music, Hammerstein wrote deceptively simple lyrics which were apt and penetrating as the subtle use of rhyme and structure communicates complex ideas or emotions quickly and clearly. For example, in ?Oklahoma!?, Curley instantly conveys his emotions while singing, ?Oh what a beautiful morning. Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, everything?s going my way.? The final characteristic of musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein is their use of long musical scenes. For example? in ?Carousel?, the Bench Scene begins with Billy?s recitative style philosophising and ends much later with the ?almost love song?, ?If I Loved You?. In addition, the opening of ?Oklahoma!? is extremely long and a mixture of song and dialogue and the repetition of some songs feature within this opening scene. Rodgers and Hammersteins? works were seen as the pivotal point between the Broadway Musical Era and the Exploration and Expansion period mainly due to the new levels of integration they managed to incorporate into their works. ...read more.

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