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Songs from Musicals
Popular Song in Context part 4
This presentation summarises the
information which can be found in the
Student’s Guide to GCSE Music
The Musical – what is it?
A theatrical work in which music plays
a central function.
Music is usually in a popular style –
jazz/rock etc
Structures and devices are borrowed
from opera
Music has to tell a dramatic story and
create convincing characters
A musical will have:
Solo songs
All of the above is usually separated by
sections of dialogue.
Sources of musicals
Usually books, plays, could be the
Bible … or original storylines.
Can you name the musicals from
which these are the sources?....
A Charles Dickens novel?
A Victor Hugo Novel?
Shakespeare plays?
A TS Eliot collection of poetry?
The book of Exodus?
The story of a President’s wife?
Started in America
– one of the first
successes was
Show Boat (1927)
by Jerome Kern.
Rodgers (music)
and Hammerstein
(words) was one of
the great
collaborations in
the 1940s and 50s
Rodgers and Hammerstein
The musical declined a bit in
popularity in the 50s and 60s –
probably because of the onset of rock
and pop music
However Bernstein’s West Side
Story was one exception – and one
of the greatest musicals ever written.
We will be looking at it later.
Lloyd Webber and Rice
Andrew Lloyd
Webber (music)
and Tim Rice
(words) were
another famous
partnership of the
1960s and 70s,
though ‘Joseph’
(1968) was
originally written for
a school.
Lloyd Webber and others!
Other hit shows
Lionel Bart had one major hit show –
Grease and Saturday Night Fever
were major shows of the 70s, though
they started out as films
Anderson and Ulvaeus – the guys
from Abba – had a hit in the 80s with
Schonberg and Boublil
A major
partnership in the
80s and 90s
The musical today
Some new musicals are being written,
but the major hits are either revamps
of older musicals – such as The
Producers – or musicals which are
collated from songs with a loose
(often very dodgy!) storyline written
around them – see over for
‘Hotch potch’ musicals
Case study – West Side Story
Up to date version of Romeo and Juliet set in
1950s New York’s violent West Side.
The ‘two households both alike in dignity’ become
two rival street gangs – the Jets (locals) and the
Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants).
Tony becomes Romeo and Maria becomes Juliet.
The masked ball becomes a gym dance, and the
balcony scene is played out on a rusty fire escape
The theme remains the same – love across the
racial divide. The story – as in the play – ends in
Types of ‘number’ in WSS
Solo/duet character number (‘Maria’, ‘I
have a love’ – solos; ‘Tonight’, ‘One hand,
one heart’, ‘Somewhere’, ‘A boy like that’ –
Action song – ‘Something’s coming’,
‘Tonight’ (quintet)
Chorus – ‘Jet song’, ‘Officer Krupkie’,
‘America’ – lots of dancing
All these types of song have been
borrowed from opera – Bernstein was
essentially a ‘classical’ composer
Two more songs from musicals
‘Consider Yourself’ (Oliver)
‘Cabaret’ (Cabaret)