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Leonard Bernstein - Something's Coming

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Emily Russell

on 28 February 2017

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Transcript of Leonard Bernstein - Something's Coming

Leonard Bernstein - Something's Coming
Developed from Opera

Gilbert and Sulivan began writing 'Comic Operas'

The musicals we hear today began in the 1920s and developed thoughout the 20th and 21st century.

Started on Broadway - some began to make their way to the West End.

Musicals use singing, dancing and talking to tell a story

Usually have an orchestra to accompany the singing or play incidental (background) music.

Some musicals went on to be made into films such as Grease, West Side Story and Sweeny Todd.

On the other hand, some films were made into musical such as Billy Elliot.

Other musicals are based on novels such as Wicked, Les Miserables and Oliver.
Musicals - an introduction
Musicals styles are always changing depending on the music that is popular at the time it's written...
Earlier musicals were influenced by jazz and swing. Musicals from the 1970s onwards were influenced by rock music. Have a listen to these...
1920s - 1950s: Kiss me Kate.
1940s - 1950s: Oklahoma.
1950s - 1960s: Sweeny Todd.
1960s - 1990s: Chicago.
1970s - 2000s: Jesus Christ Superstar.
1980s - 2000s: Miss Saigon.
2000 - 2010: Our House
Songs from musicals should be entertaining and easy to listen to. To do that they must...
Songs in Musicals
Be easy to sing
Have Diatonic Harmony
Simple structure - including and intro, chorus', verses, a middle 8 and an outro (this is very similar to a pop song)
The chorus would usually have a hook (e,g, 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious', or 'I like to be in America')
Solo Character Song
A character would sing about how they're feeling. An example would be 'Defying Gravity' from Wicked.

Two people singing about their feelings.

Action Song
A song that tells you what is going on at a particular point.

Chorus Number
When the whole cast sing together.
There are 4 main types of Musical Song...
Born in Massachusetts in 1918,
died in 1990.

Famous composer, conductor,
teacher and author.

One of America's most internationally respected musicians.

Most well know works - West Side Story written in 1957.

Berstein also wrote 4 other musicals, 3 symphonies, 2 Operas, an Operetta and lots of Chamber Music.
Leonard Berstein
You'll be looking at 'Something's Coming' which is from West Side Story...
Set in New York in the 1950s.

About 2 Rival gangs - the Jets (Americans) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants)

Story is similar to a famous Shakespeare play... - It's the tragic love story between Tony (best friend of the Jet's leader) and Maria (Sister of the Shark's leader)

It has two acts with spoken dialect and songs.

It includes solos, duets, action songs and songs that are just danced to.

It is quite different to other musicals of it's time - it has a sad ending, lots of dance scenes and looked at social problems in America.
West Side Story
As well as the usual wind, brass and string sections, it uses Saxophones, piano, electric guitar, mandolin and celeste (not so typical of an orchestra!)

It also uses a lot of percussion including timpani, glockenspiel and police whistle.

Tony is sung by a tenor and Maria is sung by a Soprano (even though she isn't in this song.

Bernstein uses Latin American rhythms and instruments such as castanets, guiro and maracas to represent the Puerto Rican gang,

Use of tremelo and pizzicato

He also uses a lot of jazz elements such as
blue notes
The music of West Side Story is written for a BIG orchestra...
Solo character song

Quite early in the musical

Tony is imagining a better future for himself. He sings it BEFORE he meets Maria.

Berstein portrays Tony's excitement in the music...
The song you'll study is 'Something's Coming' and it's sung by Tony...
- crotchet = 176 (again, representing Tony's excitement)
Starts with Tony singing
(pp) in a half-
style with quaver rests between his words.
Lots of parts are playing
cross rhythms
Much of Tony's part has a
6/8 feel
with 2 beats in a bar.
off-beats (syncopation) in Tony's part (e.g. his first two entries "could be" and "who knows" give a sense of anticipation which matches his mood.)
Final word (Tonight) is echoed later
in the song 'Tonight' that Tony sings with Maria.
(plural of ostinato) in lots of parts.
Musical features
A tritone is an interval of two notes that are 3 whole tones apart (like F to B).

Tritones are often used when something evil or scary is going to happen (like the knife stabs in the film psycho)

Tritones appear in several places in 'West Sdie story' showing that under the love story...something BAD is happening...

There's a tritone in the first chord of 'Something's Coming' - the D and G# in the piano.

1. Give a definition for a Musical.

2. Name the 4 types of song heard in a musical.

3. What musical is 'Something's coming taken from?

4. Name 4 unusual instrument used in Bernstein's orchestra.

5. What character sings 'Something's Coming' and what type of voice does have?

6. What time signature is the song written in?

7. What key is the song written in?

8. Give two jazz features heard in this piece.
How much have you remembered?
Draw the following table in your books.
Work as a table to complete it:
Blues scale
Short phrases
Push rhythms
2 main sections with varied repeats
Ends unresolved (like Tony's future)
Imitation between instruments.
Lots of short ideas - riffs
Jazz harmonies - 7th and 9th chords
Written in 3/4
In D major - major = happy :)
What is a musical?
Write a definition in your book to best describe what you think a musical is.
Full transcript