Category: Writing a Musical

Writing Tips

Writing for Today’s Musical Theatre Performer

There are a number of challenges musical theatre performers face in today’s industry. Most pressing are the vocal demands of a musical theatre score. Some contemporary scores require what is considered heavy vocal load singing for longer periods of time than is healthy. As writers, we have a responsibility not to normalize potentially dangerous vocal writing for the voice. We must take into account what the voice is capable of recreating 8 shows a week, whether on a Broadway stage or regional theatre. It is the highest sign of respect to the performing artists, who bring to life our characters, allowing them to tell their stories in more powerful ways.

Helping Characters Land Through Song

Audiences need to discover a unique protagonist to whom they can attach themselves and follow as he pursues a powerful goal. The goal is the hook. Pursuing it is what keeps the audience invested in the protagonist and his story.

“If I Loved You” – Conditional Love Songs

Not every show has a love story at its core, but most do. It can take the form of romantic love, familial love, friendly love, or passion for life, but (in a good story) the heart of the protagonist is always on fire for someone or something.

I Want Songs in Context

One way writers can avoid musical muddle is to write a good I Want piece. The audience needs to know the longings of the central character by having him or her sing about what’s missing in their life. Since we tend to root for a character to get what they want, we become engaged.

Five I Want Songs That Work

As every musical theater writer knows, the “I want” song is central to our craft. The stage may be full of people singing and dancing, but the I Want song tells the audience, “Watch this one. This is the important one. This is the one with the superhuman passion.”

Orchestrating a New Musical: The Rhythm Section

The rhythm section of a musical theater orchestra is usually defined as the keyboards, guitars, drum kit, and bass. Travis Frank discusses how this section keeps the rhythm and groove throughout numbers and how best to write for this versatile group of musicians.

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