Music and Word of Songs in Musical Theater, Dissertation Example
Music is defined as the art of ordering sounds or tones in succession, in temporal relationships and combination in order to fabricate a composition that has unity and continuity. It is a common part of lives and society. Hardly a day goes by without us hearing it. We also get to hear it everywhere, from full albums on CD players, latest hit singles on the radio and online, music in commercials, restaurants, elevators.
Although it is a misunderstanding that music is a free form, special rules that make the beauty of the music more organized and understandable and still maintaining their brilliance bound the great musical works of history. The rules and techniques that are applied are referred to as music theory. This music theory is a product of over a millennium of work and innovation and possibly the greatest unsung achievement (Nidel 219). It is the study of how notes fit together with each other, and its basis is the musical scales.
Word and music are entities, which are fundamentally incompatible, but successful interaction and relationship between the two is evident throughout history. Among the questions that shape up the discussion for interaction between word and music is whether music is the servant of the word or if the word is the servant of music and, which one is paramount in what genre, the quintessential of the relationship, the resultant meaning of the interaction between the two (Nichols et al. 1). Is it sacred or secure, theatrical or other, ancient or modern? These issues affect the interactions between word, music, history and critical understanding.
Are there any meaningful conclusions about the relationship between word and music?
The plot of the musical is very important when analyzing musicals. In this case, the episodic structure was used to demonstrate existing relationship between word and music. The plot begins early in the musical and runs through out to the end. Harmony among the parts of the musical was perfectly timed (Nichols et al. 6). The harmonic prolongation was an aspect considered. For example, in the case of memory from cats the harmony is when the glamour cat returns to re-unite with the other jellicle cats. In every musical, there is an opening, middle and a conclusion. The theme is also imperative, and in this case, it is well stated through the conversations through the characters. The characters of a music composition make the song creative and real thus, enables people be creative and realistic to talk of current happenings. The message passed engages people in showing how the relationship is observed.
The perusing of the musical plot is a role of the characters. The characters are different in appearance and for example, each jellicle cat told of their stories. The movement of the plot requires use of proper language intended for an audience. The spectacle delivered included costumes, which further enrich the plot (Williamson 13). Tragedy was used perfectly in the cat musical where the glamour cat returns, the whole scene triggers sadness. Exposition is also evident in this marvelous musical. The rhythm of the songs in the musical discussed was also set to fit with the message intended for the audience. This also included melodic prolongation.
Relationship between word and music
Composers of music try to weave lyrics, instrumentation and melody together so as generate an unswerving and compelling, emotional scene. This combination need to be lyric in order to enable the composition be attractive and passages a message to the audience. The relationships among the lyrics, chords, dynamics, instrumentation and melody are critical to musical communication, and understanding. Numerous problems in music information retrieval and creativity support can be contributed by the statistics that are behind these relationships (Williamson 8). The relationship between language and music, which is the focal point of an intensifying body of empirical research has long engrossed scholars across an expansive range of disciplines, from linguistics to neuroscience where the 2 main loci of interest being syntactic and prosodic structure.
The comparisons of prosodic structure examine how the structured rhythmic and melodic patterns in speech and music are created by the duration, intensity and pitch (Jusczyk & Krumhansl, 1993; Lerdahl & Jackendoff, 1983). Whereas, the comparisons of syntactic structure examines the way discrete elements combine, in a hierarchical fashion, to form logical sequences in the two domains (Patel, 1998; Swain, 1997). It has been demonstrated that inherent rhythms are present even in non-musical speech through previous work in linguistics and speech communities. Additional work has shown that the rhythms inherent to a composer’s native language can influence the composition of the instrument and melody used. Additional work such as the one by Patel and Daniele (A.D. Patel, J.R. Daniele / Cognition 87 (2003) B35–B45) shows that the rhythms inherent to a composer’s native language can influence instrumental, melodic composition. In their study, they used the language of English and French to show the significance it had on composers’ choice of rhythmic patterns. Patel et al later came to show how native language had similar influence on the selection of pitch intervals. In his further studies although the work only showed the effect of language on instrumental classical music.
Additional study has demonstrated that vowels have different intrinsic pitches and that the availability of phonemes in musical lyrics can influence the perception of pitch intervals of a listener. This work is a full support of claims that there is a strong connection between the rhythmic aspects of speech and music and also a strong connection between linguistic, pitch, phonemic, and timbral aspects of speech and music. There have been preliminary applications of the lyrics statistics as they have begun to emerge for both problems in music information retrieval and analysis and creativity support tools. A series of hand-coded heuristics is to align a known set of lyrics to the rhythm of a known melody. It is used in proposing a creativity support tool to explore alignments of melodies and lyrics. There have been major developments of preliminary system, which addresses the problem of generating text to match with a known rhythm. This includes Small database preliminary analysis; qualitatively validate the authors’ assumptions. Study shows that using a higher level property of lyrical structure improves the automatic alignment of recordings with corresponding lyrics. Application of lyric analysis to problems in topic detection, genre classification, music database browsing, style identification and emotion estimation have been used in recent work, in the music information retrieval community. Motivation of the present study and suggestions of the breadth of applications that will benefit a deeper quantitative understanding of the relationship between lyrics piece, which forms the basic unit of any music and melody, has been as a result of this study.
Analysis of the relationships between lyrics and melody in music showed that: the level of syllabic stress is sturdily correlated with the probability of melodic peaks. For stop words although, they carry little semantic weight, are strongly correlated with weak metric positions. The level of syllabic stress is strongly correlated with note duration in the song. Additionally, stop words are much less likely to coincide with melodic peaks than non-stop words. Short vowels tend to be linked with shorter notes than long vowels, which tend to be, linked with shorter notes than diphthongs. Finally, the level of syllabic stress is strongly correlated with strength of metric position. The findings support the highest-level hypothesis, which shows that songwriters have a tendency to align salient notes. Salient lyrics that we are able to find using intuitive features in both lyrics and melody is clear. Further studies need to done to explore relationships among more complex features of both lyrics like valence and parts of speech and music like tone and timbre, pronunciation data extracted from vocal performances and dynamics. A large-scale study that deeply explores the grammatical patterns inherent to lyrics and statistics as compared to non-musical text corpora should also be incorporated in the study. Future work is expected to explore the applications of a quantitative understanding of the relationship between melody and lyrics. For example, it can be shown how priors for lyric transcription and lyric alignment to audio recordings can be provided by these relationships. Similarly by strengthening the connection between music and lyrics, one will be more easily able to borrow techniques for problems such as artist identification and score following for music from the speech community.
Composition and Musical Theaters
Music composition refers to an original piece of music, its structure or the process of creating a new music piece. A piece of music exists in the form of music composition.
A song is the basic unit of music in the society. Songs can range from long instrumental symphonies and ballads to modern short, upbeat pieces with lyrics. Songs are also considered as media messages. On the other hand, songs are considered other forms of media.
Analyzing a Song
Analysis of a song is done to enable individuals understand the message that is brought by the song. Factors to consider so as helping one better understand the messages in songs are:
- What the instrumentation tell us about the song
If instrumentation is dense e.g. heavy guitars/drums/bass, one is forced to give focus more on it than on the vocals. Another scenario may be that the instrumentation is sparse maybe only an acoustic guitar is used, forcing one to focus on the vocals.
The tempo may be fast or slow the instrumentation loud or soft. All this evoke different emotions to the listener according to how instrumentation makes one feel. The listener can be calm, happy, anxious, and sad among others. All this is because one is affected subconsciously by instrumentation.
- what vocals and lyrics tell us about the song
One tries to understand how the tone of the words used fits with the way the singer sings them. One looks at whether the tone of the vocals agrees with the instrumentation or contradicts the instrumentation. For example, the instruments may make one feel happy while the lyrics are sad.
A person may ask what message the lyric brings. Through the lyrics, one identifies the different song types, whether it’s a romantic one, a political one, a religious one or even a war song.
- The target market for the song and values that the lyrics contain
The artist’s image i.e. how they portray themselves while performing a song affects how one feels about the song. Many people do not feel the same way about a song if it was sung by someone else of a different age, gender or even race other than, the original musician. Also, the audience may hear the same song differently. This may be so because of the different gender, different ages, difference of people’s political views, different races, and difference in the society they come from and even difference in their background.
It is still controversial where music originated from for the first time and by whom. Early man got interested in the sounds, in his environment for instance, chirping of birds. Earliest musical instruments included drums
Several criteria used to classify musical genres are;
- Popular; this refers to any particular musical styles accessible to the majority of the public.
- Time period; this includes music categorized with regard to when it was sung or produced. For example, the rock music from 50s.
- Trichotomy of art
- Technique and instrumentation; music is classified depending on the technical aspects involved.
- Fusional origin; involves music evolved from fusion of other genres. For example, jazz fusion.
Musical theatre is considered to be a combination of songs, dances, acting and dialogues between characters. It can also be overlapped with other theatrical forms, for example, opera. Since early 20th century, they were referred to as musicals. The history of musicals is quite wide dating back to the ancient Greece. Although at the time they weren’t referred to as musicals that were indeed what they were. The music produced was crude in accordance to today’s standards and the stories narrated were not done very well. During the 1970s, the extravagance of musical theaters had spread and this was due to the advanced technology. For example, it was in the 70s that such great shows as A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and A Chorus Line were produced. There after hit after hit continued to be produced many of them coming from Britain. For example, in the 80s hits like Cats, and Phantom of The Opera and Les Miserables were produced.
Various approaches have been developed for the analysis of music. The most used approach is that of examining the relationship of music to the text or word. There have been numerous contributions in this analysis by the theorists of music. They usually examine the text to find the poetic meaning that they carry and through rhythmic scansion, they can be able to find whether the words are rhyming or not. Music on the other hand is examined to look for elements that support the key words or text or phrases. The music also presents a comprehensive analysis and, which shows how the word and music has been integrated by the composer. Although a song may have superior quality, it may not be created through the meaning of the words that is the lyrics of the song. It is believed that a word and music analysis has the capability of revealing the features in a music or song, which is compelling to the listeners.
In this paper, I will discuss and analyze the musical memory from cats originally created by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and it sung by Grizabellas. This will include originality of the words and also information about Andrew Webber himself. The lyrics were written by the CATS’ director, Trevor Nunn based on T.S Eliot’s ‘Rhapsody on a windy night’ and ‘predules’. Webber wrote the melody. This was done two weeks before opening of the cat. Webber was very interested in Eliot’s work, even as a little Webber compared Eliot’s work (read to him by his mum) to his. Cats was the longest of Webbers running shows. After the initial recording the lyrics were re-arranged. Initially it started “Midnight, not a sound from the pavement…”, then changed to begin with “Memory, turn your face to the moonlight…”. The first bridge section was interchanged with the second bridge section. Some of the other inspiring musicals by Andrew Webber included,
- The Phantom of the Opera, Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel.
- Whistle down the Wind (1998), inspired by the film of the same name.
Below are the lyrics to this musical.
See the dew on the sunflower
And a rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower
I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day . . .
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Seems to beat a fatalistic warning
And the streetlamp gutters
And soon it will be morning
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale, cold smell of morning
The streetlamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You’ll understand what happiness is
A new day has begun.
The wording of this lyrics used we can analyze it by first noting that they do not rhyme, hence the lyrics words are not in sync and there is no harmonic change in the melody, the message although is carried with this words. The listener is taken to scenes with the words .e.g. how it is at night because of the word moonlight. The phrases in this song are short and clear. This brings simplicity to the words, the I in the phrases shows the narration if from the first person’s point of view.
This piece of art was creatively designed. The presentation was amazing too. The cats had different characters, which were emphasized, by the different names they had. For example, the white lady cat played her solo part displaying her flexible nature and at the same time gracefully expressing her cat qualities. Jennie the cat was introduced into the audience’s attention while in a big fur coat and boats. The other cats remove her coat and boats to reveal what was beneath; a shiny golden outfit, ‘her true identity’. The other cats march behind as she taps danced in the New York Broadway style. This shows great honor and respect from the other cats. Below is a list of all the principle characters.
- Rum Tum Tugger
- Mister Mistoffolees
The cats then all came together once a year for the Jellicle ball, and one cat is chosen by the Jellicle leader who was old Deuteronomy, and given a chance to be reborn in a new Jellicle life in a joyous manner. Grizebella played the glamour cat that emerged the winner but later became an outcast. She had a big role to play as a character. Her background history among the Jellicles is not very vast. The name Grizebella is symbolic in that grize means grey (not a bright color) and Bella meaning beautiful. Webber got the name Grizebella from some fragments of Eliot’s work (Grizebella the glamour cat) which she thought would be inappropriate material to kids. Each cat narrates their tale in the musical. Grizebella then emerges old and dull, with contrast to the glamorous life she had before as a young dancer. The other cats are disgusted by her appearance, and some are even afraid of her. She tried severally to ask for forgiveness for leaving the Jellicle mates. After a few attempts, she is forgiven, and that’s why she was reborn.
This symbolizes a new beginning. The other interpretation could be that she left the group to pursue her glamorous life and in the process drowns into prostitution, and eventually she withers and becomes miserable. On her return, the other members of the Jellicle group are bitter with her actions and refuse her apology. It’s at this point that she sings ‘memory’ which is very emotional. She expresses her desire to have a new beginning after reviewing her life as a young, glamorous cat. The memory is a song with universal truth and a deep meaning. The leader of the Jellicles overheard her and decided that she is forgiven and allowed to come back to the group. She is given a chance to travel to Heaviside and be reborn. This can be viewed as cleansing and a chance for a new start. Grizebella ascends. Actually within the musical there is a song entitled ‘journey to Heaviside layer’. The word Jellicles are taken from ‘song of Jellicles’ by Eliot, which described cats to animals which are peaceful and love the life of the night.
The musical is very emotional and entertaining. But deep down it creates a feeling of truth and real life experiences. It presents the qualities and roles of different individuals in the society. Ungratefulness is well executed in Grizebellas role as we see her desert her own friends for the glamorous life in the outside world. When she left she doesn’t think about anyone but herself. She becomes miserable and nobody in the outside world offers her a shoulder, and she has no choice but to go back to the Jullicles filled with shame and guilt. In the memory song, she relates herself to a fading rose; this can be translated to the fact that she lost her beauty and her glamour. Despite the initial resentment, the other cats show her kindness, forgive her, take her back and give her another chance that was a fresh start. The old Deuteronomy leads by example and forgives her and allows her to travel to the Heaviside layer; a quality of a good leader. The musical is as entertaining as it is educative with an emotional touch. The musical teaches the good qualities which encourages the giving of second chances.
It is one of the longest running shows ever experienced in recent history. The signature tune ‘memory’ is a favorite to many. The London cat production has been running for 21 years while that of Broadway has been running for 18 years. Studies by economists reveal the contribution of the show to New York’s economy, which is estimated to be more than 3.12 billion dollars. This can be attributed to the numerous tourists travelling for reasons related to the show. So far the musical has been translated to other twenty languages. Two billion dollars worth of tickets have been bought. These are relatively large figures for just a musical; it must have been a master piece. In London alone, there are a total number of 8449 performances. These shows have been performed worldwide and below are examples of individuals who got an opportunity to play the prominent role of Grizebella.
- Betty Buckley- acted in the original Broadway cast.
- Lea Salonga- in Philippines 2010.
- Gay Marshall- original Paris cast.
- Dianne Pilkington- recent United Kingdom tour.
- Chrissie Hammond- recent United Kingdom tour.
- Dee Rosciolli- Australia.
- Elaine Paige- original London cast.
- Bev Harell.
Since the opening, of the cats in 1981, the publicity has been amazing.
Memory was not the only song sang in the musical. Another song was the ‘the Jellicle ball’. Here are lyrics to the song.
Jellicle Cats come out tonight
Jellicle Cats come one, come all
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball
Jellicle Cats are black and white
Jellicle Cats are rather small
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright
And pleasant to hear when we caterwaul
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes
We like to practice our airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise
Jellicle Cats develop slowly
Jellicle Cats are not too big
Jellicle Cats are roly poly
We know how to dance a gavotte and a jig
Until the Jellicle Moon appears
We make our toilette and take our repose
Jellicles wash behind their ears
Jellicles dry between their toes
Jellicle Cats are white and black
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size
Jellicles jump like a jumping jack
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes
We’re quiet enough in the morning hours
We’re quiet enough in the afternoon
Reserving our terpsichorean powers
To dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon
Jellicle Cats are black and white
Jellicle Cats (as we said) are small
If it happens to be a stormy night
We will pracitce a caper or two in the hall
If it happens the sun is shining bright
You would say we had nothing to do at all
We are resting and saving ourselves to be right
For the Jellicle Moon and the Jellicle Ball
Jellicle Cats come out tonight
Jellicle Cats come one, come all
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.
This song describes the joyous nature of the cats and their liking of the night. It describes how their eyes are during the night and their slow activity during the day.
Another song was entitled ‘Grizabella’
Remark the Cat who hesitates towards you
In the light of the door which opens on her like a grin
You see the border of her coat is torn and stained with sand
And you see the corner of her eye twist like a crooked pin
Grizabella the Glamour Cat
Grizabella the Glamour Cat
Who would ever suppose that that
Was Grizabella the Glamour Cat?
This song it shows disbelief of Grizabellas miserable life and the amazement of other jellicle cats upon her return. These songs will be analyzed on the relationships between words and other special features. In the 20th century, new styles emerged in music bringing new trends to the industry. In the songs above, dances are used to further the plot of Andrew Webber to deliver the romantic musicals. Other aspects of music in musicals have also changed in the 20th century. These include pitch material, harmony, tonality, rhythm, timbre, line, tone and twelve form music.
The analysis of word relationship in musical song is an important part of this paper. For the song, ‘memory’ to become a popular musical signature for many, it must have triggered a lot emotion in the audience, and this to happen there was perfection in the combination of lyrics, codes and instrumentation and of course other aspects like costumes. The relationship between the words is very important when it comes to conveying a specific message intended for a specific audience. Features like syllable stress are very important, and its perfection ensure a good flow of rhythm. From the words of the lyrics, we can see that the words used rhyme with each other at the end of the paragraph an example like (tonight, bright all, ball), they bring harmony in the music. Words and paragraphs are also repeated for example the phrase Grizabella the Glamour Cat. This repetition emphasizes the message that the music is trying to bring to the audience. Through the lyrics we can also get to see that there is message that comes along with it. The lyrics are also written in a poetic way. This means they resembles poems.
Instruments used in this Musical
Many different instruments can be used in a musical depending on the theme. The instruments used in this musical were carefully selected, and they included the Flute that adds the fundamental pitch to the music, oboe, trumpet, trombone, piano, clarinet, violin, viola, bass, cello and percussion. The combination of these instruments perfected the musical and triggered the intended emotion in the audience. In addition to the instruments, the casting entailed skilled dancers who basically featured in all parts and their role was to convey a message to the audience through their body movements. Additionally, the message conveyed through singing and use of instruments. However, the musicals success was greatly boosted by the perfect and timely combination of vocals, dance and instrumentation.
Costumes play a major role in musicals especially in the differentiation of characters. For example old Deuteronomy was in cloak. An audience will generally see this character as a leader even before the character attars a word or is involved in a dialogue. Growtiger had an outfit which was tiger stripped. The rest of the characters apart from Grizebella had a body suit painted accordingly, with a fuzzy tail attached to it. This also included a golden chain waist belt. Grizebella had a worn out headdress and a clumsy looking fur cape, showing her miserable nature. Proper lighting of the stage sets the intended mood. In this musical, a ring of spot lights hanged above the centre stage. Fog effects were also utilized in the addition to the moon which was back lighted and the beautiful Christmas lights. The stage was set with the moon lighting the metal yard like environment with parts of auto mobiles, trash and a pirate’s ship. This included two acts. This seems like a perfect environment for cats to hang out. Choreography was quite simple involving acrobats, jazz, tap, modern ballets and production numbers
My conclusion from all the research done on various works of Andrew Lloyd Webber is that, it is one of the best, if not the best, creation of musical theaters in recent history. From the publicity his work got so much attention all over the world. These musicals have been used as good musical examples for students of poetry, art and music. Although the wording in both the musicals was used differently, the melody produced was created in such a way that they match together with the word relation to bring one of a kind piece. It is important for a song to have a word to music relation because the way in which the music was originally conceived is reflected. The coherence in words and song tune contributes to how the performance is conducted. Music composers produce a song that attracts people to listen and follow through the song. Most importantly, listening experience can be enhanced through highlighting the correspondences as well as the conflicts found in the delivery of the words and the rhythmic features that accompany it. The presentation of the performances by the skilled actresses’ stole away the attention of millions of audiences. These musicals have boosted the economy the economy of various regions of the world especially London and New York. I have watched different performances of ‘memory from cats’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber on you tube and it’s not every day we watch a performance older than we that fascinates us. The musicals were a great success.
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