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Hidden in Plain Sight: Musical Subtext in Drama

Hidden in Plain Sight: Musical Subtext in Drama

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Title: Hidden in Plain Sight: Musical Subtext in Drama
Author: Bogar, Brigitte
Abstract: This dissertation explores the manner in which music (songs, instrumental underscoring, and sound cues) support, reflect, and advance dramatic action. The dramaturgical analysis, employing Freytags model, is applied to selected dramatic repertoire to reveal the impact and influence of music on the dramatic structure of these works. The analysis considers how the musical nature of works by William Shakespeare, August Strindberg, George Bernard Shaw, Tom Stoppard and Simon Stephens also contributes to them becoming major sources for adaptations and for musicals on the modern stage. The importance of looking at authors, function, intended effects, production, context, message, and transmission modes must be stressed, as well as how to code/decode music and how musical meanings are generated through effective stimulation or through semiotics. The argument maintains that text and music cannot be separated without causing serious damage to the authors creative vision and that the total structure of a play exists as an expression of artistic unity similar to Wagners concept of Gesamtkunstwerk. The text and music exist in a symbiotic relationship, sometimes as leitmotifs, with the non-diegetic music supporting emotions to reflect the inner world of their characters. The use of musical leitmotifs or music as thematic material clearly contributes in driving forward the dramatic action.
Among the main findings are how the musical references made by any of the five playwrights determines the dramaturgical interpretation of their plays. Each author is extremely precise with respect to their musical references. Four out of five playwrights discussed had a strong musical background, which enabled them to make well-informed musical choices to underpin their plays. Some even chose to replace traditional dramatic structure with a musical one.
Finally, it can be said that music functions as an important and often overlooked subtext that enhances the entire dramatic experience by supporting the situation and narrative. Music influences the audiences ultimate perception of character and emotion.
Subject: Comparative literature
Keywords: Comparative Drama
George Bernard Shaw
William Shakespeare
Tom Stoppard
Simon Stephens
August Strindberg
Music drama
Musical Theatre
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/35839
Supervisor: Coghlan, Michael
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Music
Exam date: 2018-09-26
Publish on: 2019-03-05

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