Acting 101 for Singers: Day 1, Topic 8
One of the sets of information we need to identify to build our context and stimulate our imagination is where musical and textual ideas begin and end. We will build on this idea throughout this course. For now, our goal is to identify where phrases start and end. We will focus on musical phrases because if you are working on a song by a good composer, the text phrase will be within the musical phrase. This is another key element of musical information you have to gather to feed your imagination what it needs to garner the truth the music is trying to tell
Where do I put arrows?
You will put an arrow pointing down to the beginning of the last note or syllable of every phrase. If it is the end of the phrase there should be an arrow pointing down to that note or sung syllable.
The first arrow of any piece will actually be before the music starts. Here is an example of how it could look:
Example of how to mark arrows in the score.
So what? What does musical structure have to do with acting?
Be patient. We are laying the groundwork for future lessons here. But to answer this question, the musical structure has everything to do with acting. Another way to think of musical structure is in the way we identify musical change. The musical change reflects an implied change in the performer’s emotion and action. If we don’t know what the basic musical structure is, then we will be missing a key source of information. Musical information is information that the audience will hear. Therefore, if we don’t take that musical information into account and our audience still hears that there will be a mismatch of what the audience hears versus what they see. This will not read as a cohesive performance. It will lack artistic integrity and ultimately be a weaker performance. In short, it won’t look right and won’t engage the audience as it could. So hang in there with the initial footwork.
- Putting the arrow after the note or at the end of the last note or syllable. That arrow should point to the beginning of the last note or syllable. Trust me, it matters and will make more sense later in this course.
- Ignoring music that doesn’t have words attached to it. The performer on stage should be engaged in the storytelling from right before the music starts until after the music ends.
- Forgetting that the first arrow is always before the music starts and the last arrow is after the music ends. Why? Because the dramatic moment of the song starts before the music and ends after the last note stops sounding.
For more on the connection between musical expression
The terms to research are “Musical Prosody” & “Musical Syntax”.
It may sound completely boring, but it is actually really cool! Here are some articles that I thought were fascinating to read.
Articles on Musical Prosody
Articles on Musical Syntax
Links to other articles in Acting 101 for Singers Day 1
Topic 10: Where does imagination come from?