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  • Writer's pictureSteve

"more coffee..."

I got to thinking about my last blog post... could there be a reason NOT to add variation when repeating a word or a phrase; where we don't draw every possible different meaning from a line? Like... is it ok to repeat the line the same way each time?


I think I found an example; where the repetition itself paints the emotion of the words!


What does THAT mean? Well... take for example Stephen Sondheim's "Not A Day Goes By" from "Merrily We Roll Along:"

There is section in it where the same words and melody are repeated over and over and over:

That's a lot repetition right there and we could work through it laboriously trying to make each repetition different and interesting buuuuuuut... it's the repetition here that makes the words come to life! The duller this repetition is; the more successful the frustration and boredom of the singer comes across.


So here... in this song... at this point... DON'T add variation... DO repeat it the same as before and make it sound boring because the character is bored.

(Caveat: still follow the dynamics and get louder as Sondheim intended to snowball the emotion into a musical climax.)


So yeah... maybe in some cases repetition is allowed.


Final thought: I really like Whitney Bashor's (above) version of the song but I stumbled across it looking for this version:

Such different performances!! Probably due to orchestration and contexts. I love Bernadette.


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