The American Musical

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the American musical in the 20th century, beginning with its roots in operetta, vaudeville, and Gilbert, and Sullivan, and focusing on its connections to politics, technology, film, opera, and variety of popular musical styles, including Tin Pan Alley, jazz, and rock.

Tin Pan Alley

a place (in Manhattan), a genre of music, and a songwriting style

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"

(1933) TPA - Jerome Kern; AABA, changes meaning of smoke, questioning rise to melody and too cliche falling answer

"Blah Blah Blah"

TPA - George & Ira Gershwin; ABAB or ABA(BA) film Delicious, deliberately inept writing

"I Got Rhythm"

(1930) TPA - George & Ira Gershwin; AABA, symmetrical hook with syncopated rhythms, gapped scale, Ethel Merman

"My Funny Valentine"

(1937) TPA - Rodgers & Hart; AABA', moody minor mode, gently words cut against the music

A Trip to Chinatown

(1891) "The Bowery" Gaunt & Hoyt; comic waltz song, "New York" "Irish" bluster :: added (1892) Charles K Harris; sentimental waltz song, payola, meaning of chorus inflected by plot in the verses; emphasized key words (over, leaving, vanished)

Der Freischutz

an opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber, first important German Romantic opera, especially in its national identity and stark emotionality; plot based on German folk legend, and many tunes inspired by German folk music

The Black Crook

first important American musical; based on Der Freishcutz; big box office draw through spectacular sets, stagecraft through a transformation scene, the French ballet troupe or half-dressed women

HMS Pinafore

(1878) Gilbert & Sullivan; extremely popular, model for America, for whom it seemed to satirize England; respectability; G&S and prestige issues

"We Sail the Ocean Blue"

(1878) Gilbert & Sullivan; men's chorus, establishing number and combination with "Gaily Tripping" camp

"Little Buttercup"

(1878) Gilbert & Sullivan; music hall waltz song - dance, which sets apart the next songs

"The Nightingale"

(1878) Gilbert & Sullivan; not a dance, rather, in a lofty style gives Ralph's highborn status away

"Captain's Song"

(1878) Gilbert & Sullivan; play on good breeding and class system, "hardly ever" exchange; recitative/aria structure like opera; compare matter of fact verbal style to Ralph's lofty language

She Done Him Wrong

(1933) adapted from Mae West's 1928 play Diamon Lil; saved Paramount from bankruptcy; Mae West's persona kidding about sexuality, derived from NYC drag queens

"A Guy What Takes His Time"

(1933) She Done Him Wrong - Mae West - blues number, middle section cut without any musical logic by Hays after film was released as show of power

I'm No Angel

(1933) released after She Done Him Wrong; Mae West association with black women blues singers - physical display of wealth and female desire

42nd Street

(1933) choreographed and musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley; backstage musical; saved Warners from bankruptcy; technological advances with pre-recorded sound allowing Berkeley to innovate camera technique

"Young and Healthy"

(1933) 42nd Street - fetishization of women's bodies; kaleidscopic figures; ordinary space vs extraordinary space; audience applause conventions

Swing Time

(1936) RKO pairing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers in 1934 Gay Divorce (formerly Gay Divorce); sublimating sex through arguments and dance (like MacDonald and Eddy in song); integrated dance film musical; "walking into" dance; Astaire and dancer's masculinity

Anything Goes

(1934) Cole Porter; TPA musical, topsy-turvy, American vs British, Ethel Merman, songs define relationships; tap dance; gay subtexts; anxeities about pre-integrated musicals in a post-integrated musical world (1987 revival)

"I Get a Kick Out of You"

(1934) Cole Porter; big hit, first solo number in the show; bittersweet tone; wistful love; love as a high (champagne, cocaine, plane) with meandering triplet melody that drops off in disappointment; internal rhyme schemes in the lyric as overcoming boredom

"Anything Goes"

(1934) Cole Porter; seems to justify unlikely pairing in the plot, overwound clock; tap dance

"Kate the Great"

(1934) Cole Porter; dropped from show at Ethel Merman's request because of allusions to lesbian behavior

"All Through the Night"

(1934) Cole Porter; replaced harder to sing song; warm genuine love, allusion to night, obsession

"You're the Top"

playful one-upmanship, couple song that establishes distance - best friends, but not romantic

The Merry Widow

(1905) Franz Lehar; mega-hit, much revived; European "sophistication," private vs. public, fashion - hats and corsets; musical mix: Viennese Waltz as personal nostalgia, Parisian can-can as inadequate city life, folk music as shared notion

"Vilia"

(1905) Franz Lehar; partial basis for melody in "I Love You So", "folk" melody uses pentatonic scale, manipulates high note as "unattainable" Vilia

"Kolo"

(1905) Franz Lehar; folk dance

"I Love You So"

(1905) Franz Lehar; "Merry Widow Waltz" - Viennese waltz as personal connection

Naughty Marietta

(1910) Victor Herbert; American operetta; New Orleans as liberating exotic plane; inter-racial story removed from 1935 film with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy; camp; sex as competition; MacDonald's post-Code career

"Tramp Tramp Tramp"

(1910) Victor Herbert; backwoods hero number

"Italian Street Song"

(1910) Victor Herbert; coloratura, "ethnic" Italians

"Ah Sweet Mystery of Life"

(1910) Victor Herbert; secret song, and combination with "Tramp Tramp Tramp" at end of film

Show Boat

(1927) Kern & Hammerstein; Edna Ferber novel; James Whale film, Paul Robeson; 2 issues: make believe/reality (river/land) and black/white, with 2 marriages failing; 2nd act problem - happy ending not possible; issues of dialect in performance; Julie as "tragic mulatto" - racial blending

"Opening: Cotton Blossom"

(1927) Kern & Hammerstein; problematic opening lyric -- "******s" vs "colored folk" and the film "fix" by fading up

"Where's the Mate"

(1927) Kern & Hammerstein; re-harmonizing "who cares if my boat goes upstream" - Ravenal as a wanderer

"Make Believe"

(1927) Kern & Hammerstein; fantasy vs reality

"Ol' Man River"

(1927) Kern & Hammerstein; basis in spiritual tradition ("Deep River"), symbolic silent all knowing river; River Jordan as crossing over (death/paradise or freedom); Robeson changed lyrics in concert tours to reflect his persona

"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"

(1927) Kern & Hammerstein; and its reprise: "gives away" Julie; "black" song taught to white Magnolia (awkwardness of blending in shimmy); imitation of blues form - diegetic? No. Book song, diegetic land.

Oklahoma!

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; landmark "integrated" musical, presents clean myth of American West; marriage stands for larger "marriage" of Cowman and Farmer (and of state and nation); evil (Jud) weeded out; assimilation of "other" (Ali Hakim); use of ballet to show dream; differences from Lynn Rigg's play, Agnes de Mille and choreography innovations, "American" ballet style; remythologizing American past

"Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; nature images, connection between Curly and Laurey, Waltz song that makes it sound old-fashioned

"Kansas City"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; story about sophisticated city affirms community and innocence, evolution of dance -- waltz, two-step, ragtime (tap)

"It's a Scandal"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; Ali accepted into community over trouble with women, marriage, and propriety; musical comedy style; Ali and Jewishness

"Pore Jud"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; Jud as outsider, Curley as cruel?

"Lonely Room"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; Jud and race; opera style doesn't "fit" with rest show; dissonant writing

Dream Ballet

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; Agnes de Mille, basis in her old work - Rodeo by Aaron Copland, and work from Striptease (dead-eyed dancer) as the saloon girls; body doubles; "kills" main character at the end of Act I; difference from tap dance in earlier musicals, developed American Ballet (vernacular dance(

"The Farmer and the Cowman"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; dance; establishing community that will unite; shotgun wedding; gendering cowman as male and farmer as female

"Oklahoma!"

(1943) Rodgers & Hammerstein; sung at wedding, marriage trope; expansive form; evocation of landscape in lyrics and music (form, women's chorus, held note in melody)

Singin' in the Rain

(1952) Freed & Brown, Comdem & Green; basis in film history, body and voice doubles, buddy film, easing into musical numbers; songs from period; overcoming Great Depression

"Fit as a Fiddle"

(1952) Freed & Brown, Comdem & Green; Hollywood truth and lies

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