Ok ok ok... so I know how I say all the time that I hate this show and I never want to hear any of the music from it again. I spent a whole year of my life doing the part of Liesl with 2 different theatre companies, back to back. But, it's been two years since I have listened to anything from the show... and I have found that I can stand it again... well, at least a little better. So here you are kids, "The Sound of Music" from... yes, "The Sound of Music." Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Music by Richard Rodgers. Original Broadway Cast Recording.
So, we start out with a very tranquil and free sounding orchestration. I love the sound of Rodgers and Hammerstein's old musical theatre orchestrations. They have their own unique sound to them. Anyway, when Maria begins to sing, the accompaniment is just simple block chords that support the vocal part. About halfway through the introduction, things change slightly. The lyrics become a little more exciting, the tempo picks up, and the accompaniment becomes much more playful. It goes from mostly block chords to really fun octave jumps. This only lasts until the familiar tune, "The hills are alive with the sound of music" begins. Here we go back to a more simple accompaniment, and the vocal line is really the focus. However, there is something in the accompaniment that I just love. The same "hills are alive" motive appears several times, and every time right after she sings it, it is played in the strings about an octave higher. Because the rest of the orchestra is so bland at this point, it really stands out. I just love it.
There is another change and the bridge. When she starts singing about how her "heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds that rise from the lake to the trees", the accompaniment becomes fun again. There are more big jumps in the strings, and the tempo picks up again. It is just fun sounding... very playful.
There is another moment that I just love... the bridge is coming to its climax, and the vocal line is building and building. She is singing forte and the orchestra is playing forte. She sings, "Like a lark who is learning to pray!' The next phrase returns to the familiar tune with, "I go to the hills when my heart is lonely", and goes back to piano and the tempo slows back down. She doesn't take a breath between "pray" and "I" She connects them so beautifully... and by the word "go" she is singing at a beautiful piano. Just goes to show you what good phrasing can do for a song. It's also cool because the orchestra becomes really hushed all of the sudden, and on the word "go" they play this amazing, full, rich, rolled chord. Love it.
It stays about like this until the end of the song. You all know how it goes :-)
Wow. That wasn't so bad. I can't say I want to put the CD in and listen to the whole show... or watch the movie or anything like that. But I don't feel like pulling my hair out when I hear it either :-) Making progress. :-)