Musical Theatre Composition: how Digital Broadway has changed ‘What’s Inside’
AbstractSong form, structure, function and ideology are culturally and genre specific. Boiled down to its most basic elements, a pop song is about emotional connection and engagement, whereas its musical theatre cousin is concerned with narrative progression; ‘pop songs are to adjectives what musical theatre songs are to verbs.’ (Lambert, 2015) Lambert articulates a binary perspective on genres, which are actually overlapping in unprecedented ways, in terms of authorship, style, means of distribution, and popularity. This paper explores, not the distinctions, but the points of contact between song forms, with a view to understanding the current creative moment, and, perhaps, anticipating future trends. In contemporary popular music, ‘There are no longer subjective gatekeepers controlling who gets let “in”, promoted and exposed. The choice is ours. Now, anyone can be famous.’ (Price, 2011). This is a transformation also evident in musical theatre, where an upsurge in ‘YouTube musical theatre composers’ (Pasek & Paul, 2015) and social media engagement challenges the dominance of the book musical. If humans on-line have an average attention span of 8 seconds (Riecke-Gonzales, 2015), for example, this paper considers how musical theatre is evolving to meet the requirements of millennials.
CitationChandler, C., & Schueber-Rush, S. (2018) Musical Theatre Composition: how Digital Broadway has changed ‘What’s Inside’. Paper presented at Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference, Boston, United States.
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