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Sound of Music Broadway Score

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by tplyons, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Hey guys,

    My high school is doing the Sound of Music as this year's musical, and as a sax player (primarilly) I was bummed when I found this out because there is no sax in the original Broadway score. Since my girlfriend has been cast as Maria, and we've done two shows together, I've always been in the pit and it's important that I play in this as well. The only option left for me is bass.

    1) How difficult is the score? What kind of key signatures, time signatures and rhythms am I going to be seeing?
    2) Is it difficult on double bass, or would you recommend a bass guitar?
    3) Assuming it's mostly double bass, is it primarilly arco or pizz?

    I don't have a copy of the original Broadway cast recording, so I can't quite see and we haven't recieved the score yet. Just looking for a quick preview and any advice if you've got it.
  2. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Ken Smith might be able to help you here; he is an old Broadway pro.

  3. I've played two different SoM productions. Most of the tunes, incidentals, and scene changes are straightforward musical pieces- they are easy to play on electric, and if your upright chops are good. If you are a good reader on bass, and familiar at all with playing musicals, you won't have any problem with 90% of the book. There are a couple of waltzes and I remember just a few odd-time pieces here and there. Key signatures are not bad either- maybe a few with lots of flats, like Gb.

    As I recall, there are at least two dance pieces, if your company does them, that are challenging either on electric or upright, particularly if played up-tempo. However, a lot of school and community theatre groups don't have a lot of dancing talent, so maybe those breaks will either be omitted or severely edited. This is a practice that good directors will usually employ.

    All the old shows from the 40's and 50's are written for upright bass. Electric basses did not start showing up in Broadway pits until the late 60's and early 70's and then only for the 'rock' shows like Godspell, JCS, and so on. They didn't get mainstream until the 80's.

    So, all the old books will have arco passages in a good number of the songs. It is generally assumed that you are playing pizzicato (finger style) unless the score explicitly says arco in a section.

    Personally, I feel electric works just fine for musical theatre. If you work at your tone, cutting the highs and doing somewhat more of an upright sound, it's great. Twang and roundwounds don't get it for a show like "Sound of Music". I like rolled-off treble and either nylon or flatwound strings. Think mellow tone..
  4. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    It's one of the easier shows to play on DB, a good one to cut your teeth on with the big girl if you're so inclined. I did it here several years ago and the book read arco for a lot of the tunes, especially waltzes, which the effeminent NY conductor insisted I do. But you can get by fine with pizz on most of the book.
  5. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choice™ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I just got done playing it. Eight shows in Tampa, Miami and Lady Lake. It's one the easier shows I've done. Mostly two-feels and waltzes and the few faster runs are usually major scales (doe, a deer....) . There are a few key signature and tempo changes to watch for, but nothing too radical. One of the dance scenes had some time signature changes that can be a little tricky at first but you should have no problem after you rehearse them a couple of times. None of the bass parts are very exposed except maybe the wedding scene music. When I played it at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, we had a ten-piece orchestra and I used an amplified upright and played the arco parts as written. The "touring" version had only a five-piece orchestra (trumpet, clarinet/flute, piano, bass and drums) and the musical diecrtor asked me to play electric due to the logistics. I used my Fender Jazz with roundwounds and my little GK MB150S with the treble rolled off a bit. I slightly modified some of the parts that were marked arco, particuarly ballads with sustained half-notes like the title song. I still have those @#$*! songs going though my head :rollno:

    - Steve

  6. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio

    Reminds me of when I played Grease!
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    That's probably the summer musical, so I'll come to you for advice :)
  8. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    absolutely! PM me in the summer!

    BTW, Grease is really, really, really, really easy - it's actually almost fun! ;) :D
  9. bassgeek


    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    I did Grease every night for 3 months last year in Germany. As with any show, if the drummer's not happening, the show isn't fun. I had to sit with a click track in my left ear and one of the loudest drummers I've ever played with 3 feet to my right. He also didn't play well with the click. So that was fun.

    But to get the songs that are "stuck" in your head out (which always seems to happen playing musicals night after night), I've found that listening to a half hour or so of Ornette Coleman does the trick.

    Tplyons, good luck with the gig!
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks to Don Z., I have officially been dragged into this..lol..

    I am not old enough to have played in the Original Show and to my knowledge, it was never revived in NY. But, I have played many of the songs and it it fairly easy. I don't know what's in the actual Bass part from this score but Double Bass IS the instrument for this one. A few TBers have done various versions of the Show so their word is good enough for me...

    By the way, your Girlfriend is Playing Maria? I thought Maria was in 'West Side Story" ......Oh well, I guess B'way is a lil short of names.....lol
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    C'mon, Ken...surely you know the tune, "How Do Ya Solve A Problem Like Maria?" :meh: