Edexcel Musicals, Bernstein

Revision notes for Something's Coming by Bernstein

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Orchestra Keywords
Music GCSE notes Tritone - a gap of three tones
There are a large number of instruments in the West
Side Story orchestra with particularly large woodwind, Syncopation - notes accented off the beat, weak part of the
20th Century brass and percussion sections beat is emphasised
Pizzicato - plucked
As is common in theatre pit orchestras (or bands), the
L. Bernstein players in these sections often play more than one
Word-painting - words reflected in the music
instrument. This is known as doubling.
Something's Coming from
West Side Story -1958 Structure
'Something's Coming' does not follow a standard song structure such as verse and
Tritone chorus. Instead it is held together by three ideas or themes which are heard
The song opens and closes in D major (a key throughout the song and presented in different ways.
signature of two sharps). It modulates (changes
key) to C major for two contrasting sections of the
Theme A
The interval of a tritone is central to the West Side
Story score - it helps to hold the work together,
linking various musical themes and acting as a
symbol of tragedy.
A tritone:
· Is an interval of three tones which has a dissonant
unsettled feel as though it needs to resolve
· Is often associated with evil and is sometimes
known as the Devil's Interval
Look at the first theme. Notice the tritone between the bass note C and the F sharp in the vocal
Theme B line. The F sharp resolves onto a G.
Theme C
Look at the third theme. Notice the use of long sustained notes, legato
phrases and rising intervals.
Look at the contrasting second theme. Notice the declamatory repeated notes and the use of
accents. Rhythm Part of song Length
Accompaniment There are several time
Intro Bars 1-3
The song opens with a syncopated (using offbeat accents) signature changes in the
accompaniment figure in 3/4 time. song as it moves between Section A 4-39
A similar repeated pattern is heard throughout. This is known 2/4 and 3/4 time. The Section B 40-105
as a riff. The pitches change to fit the harmony. word-setting is mostly
The accompaniment stays in the background throughout so Section B1 106-140
that the singer can be heard clearly.
syllabic (one word to a
syllable). Section A1 141-157
When it was written the singers would not have had their
voices amplified on stage. There are several examples Outro 158 (slow fade out)
The opening accompaniment is played by clarinets (including of triplets (where three
bass), pizzicato (plucked) strings, drum kit (snare drum and hi- notes are played in the
hat cymbal, played with wire brushes). time of two).
The music of the solo song 'Something's Coming'
· Jazz based harmony · Extensive use of short riffs
· Chord with added blues notes and other dissonances · Layered textures of independent parts
· Syncopated rhythms - including 'push' rhythms · Cross-rhythms
anticipating the beat · Combination of snappy short phrases and long
· Tritones hint sinister mood sustained notes
Musical Theatre Page 1


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