Defying Gravity (1)

Secret .
Mind Map by Secret ., updated more than 1 year ago
Secret .
Created by Secret . about 3 years ago


The first section of the defying gravity mind map. Contains the sections: context, orchestration, instrumentation, musical theatre, and a synopsis of wicked's plot.

Resource summary

Defying Gravity (1)
1 Musical Theatre
1.1 The modern musical developed in the early 20th century
1.1.1 Roots go back much further to the parallel traditions of operetta and variety shows.
1.2 Many of the earliest musicals, such as The Wizard of Oz (1902), included songs from a variety of sources that might change from one production to another.
1.2.1 However, Showboat (1927) introduced the idea of the book musical, in which songs, vocal ensembles and dances are fully integrated into a plot with serious dramatic goals.
2 Wicked is one of the most successful musicals of modern times. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz (born 1948), whose many credits include the musical Godspell (1971) and the lyrics for Disney’s animated musical film Pocahontas (1995).
3 Context
3.1 Wicked the musical is based on the 1995 fantasy novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by American author Gregory Maguire.
3.1.1 Aimed at adults, rather than children, the novel creates a back-story for many of the characters in L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the 1939 musical film The Wizard of Oz It explores the nature of good and evil, and offers a new perspective on the characters and events in the original story (a process known as literary revisionism). (In particular, the character Elphaba, known to generations as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard Of Oz, is portrayed in the musical Wicked as a sympathetic character who is treated badly for being true to her beliefs.)
3.2 Wicked Synopsis
3.2.1 The musical begins with the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Through flashback, we learn from Glinda (the Good Witch of the North) that the two girls were at university together, where the beautiful, popular and spoilt Glinda initially loathed the greenskinned Elphaba, who had been misunderstood and shunned by society. Having shown a talent for sorcery, the two girls were sent to help the Wizard of Oz, who Elphaba discovers to be a corrupt dictator, busy suppressing the minority group of sentient animals in Oz by caging them and segregating them to prevent them learning how to speak. Elphaba realises that the wizard is a charlatan who possesses no magic powers, and she vows to fight his injustices. Fearful of Elphaba’s own magic powers, the wizard denounces her as wicked and uses propaganda to turn the people of Oz against her. A hunt begins and Elphaba is forced into hiding. She seeks asylum in Munchkinland but her request is refused by its governor (her cruel and embittered sister, who has become known as the Wicked Witch of the East). During the show we discover that the Scarecrow and Tin Man were once boyfriends of the witches, transformed by their spells, a lion cub freed from experiments by Elphaba grows up to be the Cowardly Lion and the Wizard of Oz turns out to be Elphaba’s father. Glinda has come to respect Elphaba’s strength in standing up for what is right, and laments the loss after Dorothy appears to have killed her – but just before the end of the musical, we learn that Elphaba survived and is still alive
4 The individual musical items in a musical (e.g. songs, choruses and dances) are known as numbers. ‘Defying Gravity’ is No. 17 in Wicked and forms the finale to Act One – a cliff-hanger moment designed to leave the audience wanting to know more.
5 Here, Elphaba, who had long dreamed of working with the Wizard of Oz, has discovered that he is behind the mistreatment of animals. He has been using her to provide the magic powers he himself lacks. She changes her opinion of the wizard, and resolves to take a stand against him. He threatens to kill the girls rather than be unmasked. They in turn barricade themselves into the highest tower in the wizard’s castle.
5.1 ELphaba levitates a broomstick to escape and, as the castle guard hammers on the door, she tries in vain to convince Glinda to join her. The guards burst in and Glinda wishes her well as Elphaba rises into the sky on her broomstick, promising to fight the wizard with all her power. Meanwhile the citizens of Oz rush in to end the act with cries of ‘Get her! We’ve got to bring her down.’
6 Instrumentation
6.1 Band Of 23 Musicians
6.1.1 Four strings (two violins, viola, cello)
6.1.2 Double bass (doubling fretted and fretless bass guitars)
6.1.3 Four reeds (i.e. woodwind players)
6.1.4 Six brass (two each of trumpets, trombones and horns)
6.1.5 Two guitars and harp
6.1.6 Drums
6.1.7 Percussion
6.1.8 Three keyboards
6.2 The limited room in orchestra pits means that the reed players have to double on a number of instruments – particularly the fourth player who has to switch between flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon and baritone saxophone.
6.2.1 Similarly, there is seldom room for a full string section, so here the solo strings are bolstered by string sounds from the keyboard players. However, a full body of strings would normally be used for recordings. The excerpt in the anthology is in the form of a short score which shows the main band parts on just two staves. A pianist can play from this to accompany rehearsals.
6.3 Orchestration
6.3.1 Electric guitar with overdrive (a type of distortion) in bars 11, 40 and 45
6.3.2 Chordal writing for low brass contrasting with melody on solo synth (bars 20–23)
6.3.3 String tremolo (marked ) to create excitement (bars 34–36 and 162–165)
6.3.4 Drum Fill (bar54)- a breif drum improvisation to fill between vocal phrases
6.3.5 Descending vocal phrases for bass clarinet (bars 89 and 91)
6.3.6 Cymbal roll to announce the change of key (bar 122)
6.3.7 Tutti (full band) for the climax at bar 135
6.3.8 Synth and glockenspiel play a high-pitched ostinato as Elphaba sings of flying high (bars 152–160).
6.4 The two principal singers, Elphaba and Glinda, require the vocal ranges shown left for this number. A mezzo soprano is a voice lower in range than a soprano.
6.4.1 Soprano Range: A (below middle C) to A (above stave)
6.4.2 Mezzo Soprano Range: G (below middle C) to F# (on top line of stave)
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