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What Makes Musicals a Musical?

In this article, I’ll try to explain you what musical is about and at the same time, talk about the technical aspects that come with it. Technical definition of this is, it’s a musical theatre in form of theatre that combines dancing, music, songs as well as spoken dialogue. It is somewhat related to opera while avoiding intentionally the conventions of opera to give it a more general appeal.

Musical components of musical are referred as score. As for the sung lines, these are called as lyrics compared to plain spoken dialogues which is simply as it. Normally, the person who writes the lyrics of musical isn’t the same person who wrote the actual storyline for it. The truth is, this becomes a norm in different musical plays.

Musicals can last for few minutes all the way to couple of hours long. As for the average running time, it typically lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes; this is with intermission halfway throughout the entire play. However, some musicals perform straight through if they are not that long. Intermissions when presented are about 10 to 15 minutes long and the average musicals have 20 or 30 songs with some short pieces while others are long.

Majority of the musicals are starting with an overture which is used to put emphasis on some songs that are used in the play and also, used to set the tone of the play and mood of the audience. The highlights oftentimes and most dramatic moments in the musical are carried out in a song. The main reason for this is, these moments are the ones that the creator would want the audience to remember most and it is a lot easier to remember if it’s well done in a 3 to 4 minute song rather than in a 3 to 4 minute spoken dialogue. If the emotion that needs to be conveyed is strong for a song only, then dance will be used to express what is wanted to be shown.

Whether you believe it or not, striking a balance between spoken dialogue and song may appear to be a walk in the park but it’s actually the opposite. On top of that, the writer needs to be careful in writing songs for every character that fits. For instance, an evil villain character isn’t going to sing songs pertaining to love and happiness. It is quite hard as well to establish drama in musicals as a 5 minute song has fewer words compared to the 5 minute of spoken dialogue. Having said that, it is crucial to plan things carefully for the musical to be done perfectly.

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