Last week, we featured some of our favorite story songs. If you didn’t have a chance to check it out, you can do so by clicking here.
Having sat through a number of auditions lately, I’ve been surprised by the unsettling amount of dramatic up-tempos that feel more “dramatical” than grounded in a real story. This has little to do with how they’re delivered and everything to do with the craft of the songs themselves.
This week we’re highlighting 5 dramatic up-tempo songs for various voice types that strike that fine balance of intention, tone, and pace – songs that allow the voice to soar even while activating a strong given circumstance.
And I Face East
Music & Lyrics by: Josh Kight
Performed by: Austin Lauer
The accompaniment of this song for bass-baritone both mirrors the incessant movement of the subway and echoes the character’s state of mind. The bridge section opens up the purposefully limited harmonic world of the opening while allowing the singer to also explore more of their range. Let’s face it: not many people are writing for bass-baritone and this song is a goodie!
Music & Lyrics: Andy Monroe
Performed by: Andy Monroe
Sometimes the anonymity of the city leaves one crying out in despair, hoping someone will hear. The accompaniment figure leading into the A sections feels incredibly specific to the character’s state of mind. Notice the well-crafted rhyme scheme and the hope in the harmonies of the B sections, which sadly lead us back to the A sections, telling us nothing has changed.
We love Jaime Lozano’s voice as a composer and how he brings it to this story song for belt tenor. The hook is always placed in the middle of each phrase. This allows the rhyme scheme to ground the song structure while making the repeated hook feel both necessary and a surprise each time. While the band brings this song to life, we assure you you’ll get the same favor in the piano accompaniment!
Music & Lyrics: Michael Patrick Walker
Performed by: Lauren Kennedy
This song for high belt/mix smartly paces the vocal and dramatic range, giving the performer a great deal to play from an acting perspective while also allowing for vocal “fireworks.” The character has lived her life under the thumb of an overbearing mother and in the shadow of an attention-grabbing sister. When she finally breaks free, it is with some bad, impulsive choices, leaving her to decide how to move forward. Notice how the lyric sits on the expansive melody. This is the kind of song (and writer) that still allows the character to truly sing while they search for answers.
This is a smart song of questions for legit mezzo. In “Where is the Magic?” we recognized a retelling of the Cinderella story. The song finds a delicate balance between situational humor and the character’s earnest desire to move beyond her given circumstances. Both the lyric and music have the unique quality of being inviting and inventive. Mezzos doesn’t always get these kinds of discoveries, so this song is very much worth singing!
Check back next week for our list of the top Dramatic Ballads!
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