Discussion in 'General Advice' started by derekleffew, Jan 27, 2012.
Article here: Dave Malloy: A Slushy in the Face: Musical Theater and the Uncool .
So much THIS.
For the production of FAME I worked on the biggest fight of the show was between the hip young music director and old b-way queens. He wanted a real poppy rocking sound out of the pit and they kept wanting him to turn it down!
In a rock show the instrumentation makes a nice little nest the vocal sit in, but because vocal lives in a different frequency range then say a drum kit, you can still hear both. So many old theatre folk seem to think the vocals have to sit on top of the pit for them to be understood. When your doing a more rocking show it just doesn't work, but they don't get it because they never listen to "real" music.
Really quite interesting. I need to read it again when Im not super tired, but it brings some interesting questions up...
I wonder what he thought of 'Movin Out'? (Twyla's dance concert posing as a broadway musical.)
Re: Musical Theatre uncool?
well.....yes of course but.....
I agree that the article raises some really interesting points and I agree with much of what he says. The point about sound design is particularly interesting to me. How do you stay true to the requirements of the music (rock, hip hop, whatever) and still answer the audience's desire to have sound in a live situation be as intelligible as when they sit in the living rooms watching TV?
I would not put it all on the artistic tension between b'way sound vs. concert sound. I think a lot of it comes from the producer side of the equation not wanting to be standing at the box office with bunch of angry patrons and reviewers complaining that they could not understand a word of the songs. I think this drives the results that Pie4weebl describes more than an artistic difference of writing and playing music in a rock style vs. mus. theatre style.
But that is not to say that the artistic differences do not exist. One aspect the author did not touch on was that understanding lyrics in rock music is not the essential quality for reaching your audience. How many of us ever understood Led Zepplin lyrics the first time around or any Black Sabbath song to this day? What matters is the hook, the feeling. It might be the chord progression or just the chorus or a guitar solo. The rest of the appreciation and understanding comes once that something sucks you in and you listen to it multiple times. Broadway shows at $100+ a pop dont have that dynamic.
Musical Theatre has an obligation to a story so understanding the lyrics matters more than in other forms of pop music. The author's examples of original recordings of Hair (songs not that critical to plot line, such as it is) and JC Superstar (story and characters pretty well established to audience before they enter theatre) are to my mind still a lot closer to trad. mus. theatre than any rock album of that era that I can think of. None the less I think his overall thesis is valid and that the pendulum could use a push back in the direction of getting more guts into the music and not calcify into a formulaic straight jacket. I think he is spot on about Fela.
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