[Smt-talk] Looking for bad text settings

Steven L. Rosenhaus srosenhaus at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 21 18:18:04 PDT 2014

Dear Justin,

There is a well-known example in musical theater frankly admitted by none other than Stephen Sondheim: In writing lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s music in “West Side Story” Sondheim wound up putting the ac-CENT on the WRONG syl-LA-ble in “Somewhere.” The lyrics are:

There's a place for us, 
Somewhere a place for us. 
Peace and quiet and open air 
Wait for us 

In reading them out loud the natural tendency is emphasize the word “place” and, to a lesser extent, “us” in the first line. But the highest note of the first musical phrase winds up being on the word “a” as in “There’s *A* place for us”. It never seemed to bother most people though, probably because the word “place” is on the downbeat of the next measure.

Steven (not “Stephen”)

On Aug 20, 2014, at 11:06 AM, Justin London <jlondon at carleton.edu> wrote:

> Dear collective wisdom,
> For a unit on rhythm, meter, and text setting, I am on the looking for examples of especially awful text setting—that is, mis-matches between poetic scansion and the musical rhythm that are especially jarring or awkward.
> While we will enjoy seeing these sent on the list, I promise also to produce a collated list—perhaps we can have a contest(!)
> All best, and thanks in advance,
> Justin London
> *************************************************
> Justin London
> Professor of Music (and other stuff), Carleton College
> Department of Music
> One North College St.
> Northfield, MN 55057 USA
> +1 507-222-4397

Dr. Steven L. Rosenhaus
E-mail: srosenhaus at earthlink.net
Tel: 718-268-8906
URL: https://files.nyu.edu/slr3/public/

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