The Show Goes On: The Music And Lyrics of Musical Theater

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There is no need to expound why the lyrics of a song is important. The lyrics provide the much needed "hook" for any song, the factor that will attract potential listeners. This is why the songwriting process is just as crucial as creating the actual music or sound of the song. The lyrics of any song is not randomly written to create sense or reason for the song; music and lyrics go together, because listeners will be able to detect if they don't.

But while the lyrics are important in any song, its importance in a song from a musical is much more significant. A song works solo, so to speak, since it exists for itself and can make sense without the context of the album where it belongs or the artist who performed it. A song from a musical, on the other hand, usually doesn't. Or, at the very least, context and knowledge of origin enhances the song and the song listening experience.

A musical is a type of theater that combines the usual spoken dialogue (as in a typical play), songs, music, and dance. The songs--and their lyrics--function as an integral part of the production. Rather than just being a song, these musical pieces communicate the story and help the story move forward. In other words, the songs and the lyrics of these songs are extensions to the narrative. Musical theater was a very significant and major part of music several years ago. In fact, songs from musicals ruled the airwaves. While musical preferences have definitely changed over the years, musicals remain to be a very significant art form, and songs from these productions continue to attract listeners. The lyrics of these songs are catchy. Unlike the normal song which pertains to a general experience or narrative, the lyrics of the songs narrate a significant story, making the songs more attractive and poignant.

People do not realize that songs and lyrics from musicals have become part of popular culture, especially since they have been detached from the musicals where they originated. These are usually called show tunes. Perfect examples of show tunes include "Memory" from the popular musical Cats (one of the longest running musicals in Broadway), a song that was famously performed by Barbra Streisand. Even those who like this iconic song do not even know that "Memory" is from a musical; the song's generally appealing lyrics make it likable even to those who haven't seen the production. Other musicals were created the other way around, with musicals using existing songs in their productions. An example of this is the musical Mamma Mia, a musical that uses songs by ABBA.

Nonetheless, the lyrics of these songs form the heart of musical productions. They function just like how a dialogue in a story should, although with the added appeal of music. Musical theater may no longer be as popular now as it was several years ago. However, the songs and the lyrics from these productions will continue to linger in the hearts of millions.
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