Musical Analysis; Comparing 'Tonight' with 'Maria'; West Side Story.

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Comparing Tonight with Maria (Both from ‘West side story’) (Tonight also known as balcony scene – Tony and Maria sing together. Maria – sang by Tony.) The piece ‘Tonight’ begins in B maj; it opens with Tony stating “the most beautiful sound I ever heard” this is sang in a very recitative style; mainly monotone (D) – rubato. This makes his words seem the prominent element – stressing the drama. The gentile bassoon plays a descending line – while the horn plays a simplified version ~ this ‘decent’ becomes a theme in Tony and Maria’s relationship. It also plunges Toney into a dream world. This opening line leads swiftly on to the theme of ‘Maria’. Throughout the song there are many variations on ‘Maria’ – however the first time (bar 28) a perfect 4th is used between the ‘Ma + ‘ri’; the ‘a’ is a dissonant – yet is warmed by the sound of the horn (emphasising the ri-a). The instrumentation is thin here- mainly heterophonic , working with the triplets which diminish the rhythm and increase the tension. In bar 4; the ‘a’ of Maria is resolved on to a D (rather than an E) – this is a descending min 3rd, however the oboe doesn’t resolve- this creates anticipation and leads the music on demonstrating that the song is to grow- reflecting Tony’s feelings for Maria- yet clashing slightly and creating an element of pain- foreshadowing the ‘later’ tragedy. From bar 8, on to bar 9; After the sequential transformation ‘up a tone’ in bar 8 the music changes again as if onto an ‘Aria’ section. It does so on the ‘Ma’ to the ‘ri’ – The ‘ri’ is sang on an A natural (appoggatura) –making a dim 5th. The instrumentation thickens here, timps and double bass are also added , the bass plays pizz, and its rhythm goes slightly Latin – similar to much of the dance music throughout the musical - and all this creates a colourful image in the listeners head – reflecting the image of Maria in Tony’s head. Bar 15; Instrumentation thickens here as the clarinets, Horns, and trumpets are...
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