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Lecture 29

Music 1102A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 29: Leonard Bernstein

Course Code
Music 1102A/B
Kate Helsen

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November 23rd
Listening to Music
Leonard Bernstein
“tonight” from
West Side Story
Melody: Listen for the two contrasting melodies. How are they different, Who sings which?
Texture: Listen for the growing complexity of texture from homophony to polyphony
Form: Listen for how the scene grows from a series of solos, to a trio, to a quintet. Listen for
how the two main themes are varied then combined.
Word music relationships: The key word is “Tonight.” Listen for how it is sung consistently in
both melodies. Notice, too, how the singers arrive at the word together from different roles
Tonight from West Side Story
-Composed: 1957
-Retelling of Romeo and Juliet
-An instant hit at its premiere
-Uses elements of Jazz
-Musical—spoken drama with substantial amounts of singing, based on operetta tradition
Representative melodies
-Emotions of hate and love represented by different melodies
-Both emotions united by a desire for togetherness
Additive form
-Each character introduced one by one then brought together musically
-Sections alternate between two melodies
-Culminates in a quintet for maria, tony, anita, sharks and jets
-additive form—two basic melodies distributed among different characters, new layers
constantly added
Increasingly complex textures
-Move from one part (Homophony; solo) to many parts (Polyphony; Trio then quintet)
-Ends with five monologues sung simultaneously
-advantage of sung drama over spoken drama: five parts spoken together would be a babble
“Tonight” Two ways
-Basic word tonight approached differently by two groups
-Melodies shared by different characters or groups serve to unify them—a couple in love or
bringing together rival gangs
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