West Side Story - 20th Century musical by composer Leonard Bernstein. Modern take on Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, plot focusing on racial tensions between two street gangs in 1940's New York. Musicals part of long tradition of stage musicals, evolved from popular stage works like vaudeville, comic opera, burlesque and operetta. Genres attended by European lower classes. Swift growth of popularity in America and Europe in the 20th Century so now enjoyed all around the world by people from all levels in society. Other musical composers - Lionel Bart, Andrew lloyd Webber.
Composer - Leonard Bernstein was an influential American composer. Studied classical music at university but heavily influenced by jazz - popular music of his youth. Many compositions, including WSS characterised by attempt to bridge gap between popular and classical styles. Another musical he wrote is Candide, lyricist Sondheim.
Musical theatre - popular stage work combining song, dance and drama.
Character song - solo giving principle character opportunity to express feelings. Something's Coming sung by Tony (protagonist) near beginning of musical, lyrics and music convey clear sense of anticipation and excitement about future.
Melodic intervals - tritone and thirds are important, occur most frequently, continued use of certain melodic intervals in different themes helps provide melodic unity throughout song.
Tritone - interval of three whole tones (augmented 4th/diminished 5th), avoided since Renaissance due to dissonant nature, led to association with the devil.
Conjunct movement - movement by step, each theme used in Something's Coming relies on step movement.
Blue notes - melody notes chromatically lowered (flattened leading note), jazz influence, piece ends on blue note (C natural).
Riff - short repeated melodic idea, Bernstein's first vocal melody based on opening orchestral riff, orchestral riff heard at regular intervals during song.
Jazz harmony - traditional triads with extra added tones including 7ths, 9ths, 13ths and blue notes, resulting in rich harmonic progressions.
Tritone - interval of three tones, dissonant harmonic interval, used frequently.
Neapolitan 6th chord - first inversion major triad built on flattened 2nd degree, bar 95, triad on flattened 2nd degree of scale.
D major - noted in D major but key never clearly established so tonally ambiguous, jazz harmony contribute to ambiguity, frequent melodic and harmonic chromatic tones (opening G sharp pulls music towards dominant A).
Modulations to C major - unrelated key, song pivots between two tonal centres.
Bitonality - two keys at the same time, bar 32 Bernstein gives impression of C and G major in different parts, bass line clearly C (repeated emphasised riff of tonic and dominant), upper part appears to be in G because of F sharp.
Melody and accompaniment - one clear vocal melody dominates above orchestral accompaniment.
Contrapuntal - two or more simultaneous melodies, use of countermelodies in orchestral parts frequently result in contrapuntal texture within accompaniment.
Rhythm and Metre
Syncopation - off-beat rhythms or accents, melody is highly syncopated.
Push rhythms - type of syncopation where melodic line enters ahead of beat, vocal part starts with push rhythm conveying sense of anticipation.
Simple triple/simple duple time - pivots between 3/4 and 2/4.
Cross rhythms - simultaneous rhythms whose accents fall at different times in bar, use of triplets in vocal part often results in cross-rhythms against orchestral part.
Long duration notes - melody starts with long held notes, characterise third theme.
On-beat bass rhythms - bass line features on-beat rhythms to create stamping effect mostly on tonic and dominant in 2/4 sections.
30 instrumentalists - 5 woodwinds, horns, trumpets, trombones, strings, drum kit and percussion, piano and guitar, not shown in anthology because score is piano reduction.
Non-conventional song structure - does not use verse-chorus song form.