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The Problem With the Score of Sweeney Todd
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Author:  moviemaniac [ Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  The Problem With the Score of Sweeney Todd

Disagree with me if you must, but I think that the problem with Sweeney Todd's score is its complexities. My mom said that when we saw it, there was one point where she could hear five or six people each singing a different note at the same time. Adding harmonies is one thing, but making them so complex that you can't tell the original melody is another. I also think that making music that complex makes it too hard for the actors to pull off the show successfully without vocal errors. Scores this complex could potentially lead to many poor productions of the show. After I saw a production of Sweeney Todd that had someone I know in it, I met her after the show. She said, "I am so mad at Sondheim right now! Why does he have to make it so hard!" Complicated scores also makes it hard for the average theater goer to get into the music. It's already hard enough for them to get into the Sweeney Todd with how dark and bleak the last few scenes are. I think that so many Rodgers and Hammerstein songs became classics because their simplicity made them more memorable. Don't get me wrong, I do like some Sondheim shows and songs, including some Sweeney Todd songs. I just think that he sometimes tries too hard to be complex. Sometimes when you're writing scores, less is more. I know that some of you probably think that what I'm saying is blasphemous, but that's just how I feel about Sweeney Todd, which is quite possibly Sondheim's most complex score.

Author:  Mibuulle [ Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Problem With the Score of Sweeney Todd

I've always considered Sweeney Todd more accessible than Sunday in the Park with George for example...
I agree that sometimes Sondheim can discourage people who hear one of his works for the first time, but I would never call his scores "too complex". :S
Now, I think that if a group of persons want to do a show, they should choose a show that they are able to do and not choose Sweeney Todd if they can't manage to do it properly.
It's funny that you quote "less is more" against Sondheim :)

Author:  Flynn [ Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Problem With the Score of Sweeney Todd

Speaking as someone who's actually performed the score, the things that make it particularly difficult to learn are more the choral harmonies and the abundances of different meters (at one point I believe he puts 9/8 up against 4/4, which our Lovett and Todd could never quite get the hang of).

But aside from that the score isn't that difficult to learn, and the show itself actually sounds simpler than it is...Remember that a lot of it is written in a deliberately older fashion so that plays out like something akin to My Fair Lady or Oliver! but with a much more twisted edge. I find it's actually one of his most accessible works as the story beats and tropes are easy to parse out to viewers familiar with those sorts of shows, and the more twisted side easy to parse out to people familiar with horror tropes. Complexity really only becomes an issue when it begins to obscure meaning, and I don't think there's a point in Todd where that really happens.

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