Bernstein: 'Something's Coming' from West Side Story
Composed in 1957.
Based on Romeo and Juliet.
Set in New York and features two rival gangs: the Jets (American) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican). Tony(Jet) and Maria(Shark) fall in love.
Something's coming is Tony's first solo.
For a solo tenor and accompanied by a band made up of woodwind, brass, percussion and strings.
To not overpower the singer
- Quiet dynamics.
- Soft timbres (muted trumpets etc).
- A homophone texture.
Structure and Melody
Melody: Entirely syllabic.
Three main themes:
- Quiet, syncopated opening theme.
- Loud strident theme in 2/4 beginning at B21.
- Lyrical, slow-moving theme at B73.
The 3 themes alternate a number of times but they are not exact every time.
Rhythm, metre and tempo
The metre changes between 3/4 and 2/4.
These changes plus the fast tempo and syncopation maintain the feeling of excitement and anticipation.
The on-beat bass part and off-beat chords, at the beginning of the piece create cross rhythms.
Harmony and Tonality
D major and two contrasting sections in C major.
Tenor's last note is C natural (flattened seventh). It sounds incomplete because the note is unresolved.
Harmony is tonal and jazz-influenced.
The texture of this song is homophonic.
3 main ideas:
- Repeated riff that opens the song
- Short, mainly syncopated chords heard in bars 21-26.
- Fast, um-cha accompaniment first heard at bar 32 for the long note on 'me'.