Why Is Musical Theater Important?

Throughout history, the language of theater has been a vital outlet of personal and societal expression. As the streaming world of Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+ continue to grow in popularity, is the world of theater declining?

As the popularity of musical theater performances such as “Tik Tik Boom“, “In the Heights” and “Hamilton” continues to rise on streaming sites such as Netflix and HBO, the importance of music can be blinded by flashy effects and elaborate costumes. However, what is the true importance of theater in physical form? Are individuals not enjoying attending live entertainment anymore? Why is music so important to theatrical outlets? 

 

The Role of Music

According to study.com music has been a vital entity in theater for the western world that can be traced back to times of comedies and tragedies of Ancient Greece. Music has been a crucial tool to show the inner personal life of a character, along with narrating various emotions through the character development presented on stage. Aristotle would proclaim that the six elements that make comprise a drama are plot, character, thought, diction, spectacle, and music. Historically, almost every known form of theater has included a music component to its pieces. traditional forms of theater from areas such as Africa, Europe, or Southeast Asia, share the vital component of music to aid in the telling of stories through theater interpretation. 

Many scholars believe that playwrights would create the music along with staging and directing their plays. Studies have shown, that through the theatrical implications of the Greek Chorus, portions of their lines were spoken in unison, while the other portions were sung melodically. In terms of instrumentation, early flutes and drum would accompany these theatrical productions. Furthermore, music has developed to become an intricate part of the theater. 

The three elements of music in theater are songs, underscoring, and source music. According to Wikipedia.com, source music or “diegetic music” is defined as any music within a drama that is part of the fictional setting, or heard by the characters. Wikipedia also defines underscoring as the playing of music quietly under spoken dialogue or a more visual scene. However, the terminology of “song” is dynamic with varying definitions. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a song can be defined as a short poem or complied words sung to a set of music. With this impactful relationship between music and theater. Why is the theater itself important? 

 

The Role of Theater

Theater aids us to see a different perspective from our own. The art form displays topics surrounding conflict resolution, psychology, humanity, and even motivations of the mind. Theater can be a strong reminder that our inner and outer hardships of trauma and life itself, are not such a scary and lonely place. Not only does theater create a space to express shared experiences, but media such as television and movies also don’t create the same intimacy or participation as theater implicates. Additionally, the theater is always evolving, immediate, and always different. Although the script remains the same, the approach to every word, song, and character varies every night. Lastly, the theater may show positive effects on education and literacy. According to ActingStudioChicago.com, studies have shown that students who participate in musical theater and or other theater outlets, perform music better academically than their counterparts. 

In terms of the overall societal benefits of theater, performing arts allows societies to embrace self-discovery and expression. As an artist, self-expression as an artist is crucial. Artistic outlets such as dance, visual arts, and theater can educate individuals on how to express themselves effectively along with being a substantial tool of communication. Theater teaches society about itself, through reflections surrounding attitudes and or mindsets of past and current societies. Classic theaters such as Moliere and Shakespeare embody these notions well. 

Above all of these important aspects and benefits of music and theater, performing arts is all about being creative. With a lack of creative voice, societies and individuals would not be able to exist, possibly embodying bad rather than good. The truth is that we need creative people within our inner and outer circles, to make life worth living! According to the International College of Musical Theater, biologists have argued that the creating or formation of creativity was the most important step in human development. Therefore, it is vital that theater and other performing arts continue to be encouraged and heavily nurtured for years to come! So, what is your favorite play or musical?

 

Picture: Shutterstock / ID: 591338645


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