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Songs Sung In The Incorrect Key On Live Shows


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#1 Guest_Emma_*

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 11:47 AM

Just throwing this out there - has anyone else noticed that several of the contestants are constantly singing big old belty songs that have been transposed down for them?  Jodie, for example, has had several weeks now where her song has been at least a couple of keys lower than it should have been - "Holding Out for a Hero" and that Whitney Houston one she did the other week - "Run to You"? (cant remember the name, sorry!) were both put down so that they were "within" her range.

The question is - why let the girls sing these songs if they cant sing them in the original key?  Has it ever happened that a composer would transpose down an entire section of a show to suit a performer who didnt have the range for the part (that is a genuione question, not being facetious)?  I only mention Jodie because she's the one I've noticed it in the most, I dont have any sort of vendetta, honest! rolleyes.gif I'm just concerned that Nancy is a pretty high belt, and Im pretty sure some of the girls havent even hits the notes they'd need to be capable of yet

The thing is, it makes them look all impressive when they hit the key change and the judges go "wow, that is such a hard song to do but you REALLY pulled it off" when the top note is 3 or 4 tones below what it should be and they're still struggling to hit it (not mentioning any names).  

Any thoughts?



#2 themancsethcohen

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 11:59 AM

No, I think it's okay for the key to be changed, just like it's ok to change certain notes in the tune.

It's like an artistic license, created a) if they can't get that note, but can do the rest of the song brilliantly, and cool.gif to give it a 'different' sound for the performance.

No one wants to go and watch a performer sticking completely to the rule-book, note-for-note. They'd want some variety in performances...

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#3 maymay

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:01 PM

what he said!! Every performer will adapt to a certain degree & it doesn't have to detract from the song

#4 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:02 PM

It does happen quite a lot. If directors/producers really want a certain person for a show they will often change the key to fit the performer.

I seem to remember that they changed Les Mis around completely when they cast Colm Wilkinson and basically re-wrote the part to fit his range. It is a hazy memory and i'm sure someone else on here will know the full story!

#5 jaqs

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:02 PM

Wasnt evita changed for madonnas range?

Its no big deal - although its unfair when they make other contestants sing songs out of their range
(qwhich happened more last year to be fair).

#6 freckles

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:02 PM

QUOTE(Emma @ May 23 2008, 12:47 PM) View Post
The question is - why let the girls sing these songs if they cant sing them in the original key? Has it ever happened that a composer would transpose down an entire section of a show to suit a performer who didnt have the range for the part (that is a genuine question, not being facetious)?



When Madonna appeared in the movie of Evita, "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" was transposed, wasn't it? So ALW is not averse to it.

What is sillier to me is giving a girl a bloke's song, ie Jodie & "Luck Be A Lady". And "Jesus Christ Superstar" is rumoured to be a duet this week!

#7 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:39 PM

Unless you are Madonna or a very well known Broadway star (or the musical is an original and they just really want you for a specific part) - it is usually NOT the done thing to transpose a song. And certainly not to change any notes. It's ok to veer off once or twice but not in general. You don't have to change the tune to sound original and unique, there are other ways to achieve this. But in musical theatre (not jazz or pop) songs you stick to the tune. There is a reason the composer wrote it that way and most would be very annoyed to hear it changed. As for transposing - not done either, if you can't hit the notes you obviously shouldn't be playing the part. Also and possibly more importantly - it can change the way the whole song sounds and give it a completely different feel. Again, there is usually a reason the composer puts it in a certain key. As said before - if you are a "star" alterations can often be made, like is the case with all the celeb casting in Chicago who can't dance well enough for the original choreography.

All the above also applies to pro and drama school auditions. If you can't hit the notes, choose another song. Otherwise the panel will simply remember negatively the fact that you COULDN'T hit the top notes, rather than your performance. If you are up for a certain part in a musical, you will be sent the original score and key to learn it for your recall. You CANNOT then decide to change the key and go to the audition with a transposed version.

Yet another reason this type of casting has nothing to do with professional auditioning.

#8 Orchestrator

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 01:25 PM

QUOTE(Guest @ May 23 2008, 01:39 PM) View Post
Unless you are Madonna or a very well known Broadway star (or the musical is an original and they just really want you for a specific part) - it is usually NOT the done thing to transpose a song. And certainly not to change any notes. It's ok to veer off once or twice but not in general. You don't have to change the tune to sound original and unique, there are other ways to achieve this. But in musical theatre (not jazz or pop) songs you stick to the tune. There is a reason the composer wrote it that way and most would be very annoyed to hear it changed. As for transposing - not done either, if you can't hit the notes you obviously shouldn't be playing the part. Also and possibly more importantly - it can change the way the whole song sounds and give it a completely different feel. Again, there is usually a reason the composer puts it in a certain key. As said before - if you are a "star" alterations can often be made, like is the case with all the celeb casting in Chicago who can't dance well enough for the original choreography.

All the above also applies to pro and drama school auditions. If you can't hit the notes, choose another song. Otherwise the panel will simply remember negatively the fact that you COULDN'T hit the top notes, rather than your performance. If you are up for a certain part in a musical, you will be sent the original score and key to learn it for your recall. You CANNOT then decide to change the key and go to the audition with a transposed version.

Yet another reason this type of casting has nothing to do with professional auditioning.

That's all true to an extent. But I would say that in an audition situation where you are are singing a song that isnít from the show that you are auditioning for, it's fine to change the key as long as you give the pianist a copy that is clearly and accurately transposed into the key you want. West End shows that have had "alternate key" versions include Beauty And The Beast and The Producers. Denis Quilley asked Sondheim if the first half of Epiphany could be raised a semitone and SS agreed. Apparently in the original WE production of Side By Side By Sondheim the 2 pianists had to play Another 100 People in 5 or 6 keys.

Additionally there are problems when the published vocal selection books of shows have all the songs in different keys from the actual show. If you want the original show key you have to pay a huge sum for the vocal score or, when there is no vocal score published, scrounge an illegal photocopy.

Summertime, in Porgy and Bess, is in B minor, but it is always published in A minor. What's the "right" key? In the recent "musical" version I think it was in G minor.

Ol' Man River occurs in Show Boat in 4 different keys; which is the "right" one?

What's the right key for Big Spender? The show key or the Bassey key?

Etc.
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#9 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 01:49 PM

It's a different matter when a particular song is already known and published officinally in several keys anyway. Then yes, go ahead and choose one that suits you. What I meant was you shouldn't simply create a key of your liking that has never been published/performed before and re-write the score yourself/ask someone to do it for you. As for Dennie Quilley asking Sondheim - that's not the norm now is it. wink.gif It is of course different if you are part of a show and the composer decides to change the key - or the producer for specific reasons. But what I meant to say was - it's not up to the actor to do so. Our job is to interpret the material we are given - not change it.

"But I would say that in an audition situation where you are are singing a song that isnít from the show that you are auditioning for, it's fine to change the key as long as you give the pianist a copy that is clearly and accurately transposed into the key you want."

Both professionals in the industry and drama schools it is highly recommended you don't do this and stick to original keys. If you don't, usually panels ask for a very good reason as to why you changed it.

"Additionally there are problems when the published vocal selection books of shows have all the songs in different keys from the actual show."

This is true and in which case using a different key to the original would not be the actor's "fault" as such, as a copy of the original was not obtainable.

#10 Guest_JR_*

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 01:58 PM

QUOTE(Guest @ May 23 2008, 01:49 PM) View Post
But what I meant to say was - it's not up to the actor to do so. Our job is to interpret the material we are given - not change it.


I would have thought any change of key to suit the girls would be decided by IDA's musical director - not by the girls.





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