Comment on how composers communicated emotion in musicals.

Authors Avatar by jlogan616c2kninet (student)

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’. A spiritual is a song with religious lyrics sang by black, oppressed workers to raise their spirits. The narrow range of notes within this song shows the monotony and tiresome nature of Joe’s life and his work and the lack of flow, on the beat, repetitive nature of the B section shows the strain of Joe’s work upon him.

Join now!

The use of leitmotif was one of the most important devices used in conveying emotion. This device is fully utilised in the Gershwin’s folk opera musical, ‘Porgy and Bess’. Porgy’s leitmotif is an upwards grace note which symbolises his stumbling due to being a cripple and features a perfect 5th followed by a minor third which shows the solidity and folk like nature he shares with Catfish Row. He sings ‘When Gawd Made a Cripple’ to demonstrate his loneliness, and the material from this number is reprised and played when he provides shelter for Bess showing their emotional connection.

‘Lonely Room’ ...

This is a preview of the whole essay