Sweeney Todd.

Sweeney Todd.

Its not a real essay. I have to post my opinion on a discussion board about the following topic:

Sweeney Todd, with its gruesome and tragic storyline, is definitely different than the earlier musicals from the 1950s that tend to protray more romantic and idyllic

story lines.  Stephen Sondheim is the master of dissonance, strange and unusual timbres and sardonic wit in lyrics to portray the depth of emotion in his dramatic

tales.  We have studied dissonance, especially in the works of Schoenberg, and we have studied the importance of harmony and timbres in the music of Claude Debussy.

How do you think Sondheim uses these in the portrayal of the story of Sweeney Todd?  Look at the link where Sondheim actually teaches the song “My Friend.”  We can see

his attention to the dramatic narrative taking place within the song.  Use this to describe his orchestration and use of colorful harmonies and timbres.  Alss, listen

to the difference the orchestra makes versus the piano in the colors that underscore the dramatic action.

The second song “A Little Priest” dramatically protrays double-speak and wit to a degree rarely matched.  Read the lyrics carefully and watch the stage version of

this.  Describe how the actors portray this, and discuss how Sondheim uses tempo, dramatic pause, and colorful harmonies to throw this jaunty tune off kilter– to

underscore the horror of the normalcy by which these characters speak of the demise of their enemies.

Use these songs to fully explore the compositional world of Sondheim in this amazing work.  He takes such a tragic story, and musically scores it to take on such a

life of its own.  Let’s describe this in detail– using what you have learned about compositional styles this semester.  Sondheim uses so many interesting techniques

in his music.

Those are links of the required songs for your discussion forum.  Please view this before posting:

Stage Version of “My Friend”

Stage Version “A Little Priest”


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