Something’s Coming Essay
Something Coming was a song composed for the musical West Side Story, based on a modern version of “Romeo and Juliet” It was written in 1958. The music in West Side Story reflects the styles of this age- bebop jazz and the blues, fused with several Latin American dance rhythms and ideas from opera. The Key of the piece is D major with modulations to C major. Blue notes are used. The metre is ? , although sometimes it has cross rhythms which create irregular accents and syncopations, this makes it sound like the metre is 6/8. The tempo is a fast one-in-a-bar tempo of 176 crotchet beats per minute.
The piece has a jazz based harmony in which conventional chords have “blue” notes and other dissonances. Tritone chords are used which is also called an Augmented 4th or “diabolous” which means devil. There is a tritone in the first chord used, the tritone gives sound awkward and help create tension by giving it an edgy, unpredictable feel. An example of a triton used is G# to D. Tritones are used both harmonically and melodically The texture is homophonic- melody and accompaniment. The melody is sung by the voice with orchestral accompaniment.
The orchestra accompanies using mainly ostinati. There are layered textures of independent parts in the orchestra. In the piano the LH plays crotchets whilst the right hand plays quavers. A full 31-piece orchestra is used to accompany the tenor voice solo. The word setting is syllabic with accents off beats for example in “could be” and “who knows? ” The song does not follow a conventional verse-chorus structure. The structure is introduction, section A, section B, section B1, section A1, outro. The introduction sets the breathy and excited mood in the repeated riff of the accompaniment.
Features of this riff are the tritone, syncopated rhythm, jazz inspired harmony and a three note ostinato bass. Section A begins piano which then crescendos into a fast loud phrase. Towards the end of Section B there is an expansive lyrical section marked “warmly, freely” A1 and B1 are modifications of A and B. The outro is a simple “ad lib fade”. There is extensive use of short riffs such as in “something due any day, I will know right away” and “only just out of reach, down the block, on a beach”. A combination of short snappy phrases like “cannon balling down through the sky” and long sustained notes like “coming to me! ” are used.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 30 December 2016
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