Broadway Being Destroyed

March 21, 2012
By Anonymous

I remember my first Broadway musical, I went to go see Mamma Mia with my Mother and we were sitting in the front row. What was even more brilliant than that was that we were sitting next to the piano player/conductor. It was magical and the music was just fantastic since it sounded so real and live. The people coming to see these Broadway shows are paying a lot of money, about $85-$150(or more). The main feature of a musical is the music, and the audience is paying to see these shows for the music. Unfortunately, the producers of Broadway musicals are getting a bit cheap, and as much money as they already make through ticket sales, merchandise, and donations, they still want to make even more. Their idea for this is to cut the live music and use computer generated music such as music synthesizers. Using a music synthesizer is making the show kind of like karaoke, and who really wants to pay money to see that? Orchestra minimums and music synthesizers can negatively affect the Broadway experience by taking away the authenticity of a Broadway show and live music. The use of mechanized music and minimized orchestras takes away the authenticity of a live orchestra; the sound of computer generated music is very different from the sound of a live orchestra. You can tell the difference when music is coming out of a speaker and when it is actually being played live in front of you. In addition, these musicians are having their jobs taken away by music synthesizers and this is turning into outsourcing since American jobs are being given to people of other nations.

"It was understood that the music was at the heart of why people would want to buy tickets, and that this was much more important than spending money on lots of moving scenery or dazzling effects”(Suskin paragraph 21)The sound of a live orchestra is very different from the sound of a music synthesizer, especially in authenticity. When somebody is writing a musical the most important thing is the music because the music is what makes a musical what it is. The scenery, lighting, and even the dialogue are all very important, but the music is the main focus, so the music should be the best. Meaning that the most money and time should be spent on perfecting the music, so using a music synthesizer would completely ruin that idea. “They want to replace us with the virtual orchestra, a couple of synthesizers and computer-generated sound,” said Dan Willis, a saxophonist with the orchestra. “What this amounts to is killing the kind of live performance that makes Broadway great.” (Venn, Paragraph 11) The sound of virtual orchestras doesn't sound legitimate and sounds very "computer-generated", thus the show itself is effected and isn't as great as it normally is. In addition, it is no longer a live performance (by the musicians) and that makes it less impressive to the audience. "Weber argued “art cannot be mechanized..." and that recorded music" cannot approach the genuine article" (Mulder, 56) Adding recorded tracks is mechanizing Broadway music whereas live music has a real and natural sound, which is more suitable for a Broadway musical. The music effects how the songs sound, and without it the songs are different. The songs need to be accompanied by live music or they are simply not the same, and they are not being portrayed in the correct way This is because people know that everything is going to sound ordinary, bland, and perfect, but not in a good way; perfect as in no flaws and no risks, always sounding the same. Part of the thrill and excite of going to see a Broadway show is that everything is live, the singing, the acting, the dancing, and, the music.

Music synthesizers negatively effect and change the entire Broadway experience. “How can you call it musical theater without musicians?” asked Ray. “You can set a tape and run it for two hours. It will start and finish at the right times, but what happens in between matters.”

Music synthesizers are also taking away jobs from musicians. "Rather than having recordings made in the USA, they had a canned soundtrack for the ballet Cleopatra recorded by the orchestra of the National Ballet of China. For this, they paid $30,000 to the Chinese government – outsourcing both American jobs and our very culture" ( Live music is not only being taken away, it is also being outsourced. The Jobs of musicians in our country are being taken away and are being somewhat given to those of other countries. On March 7, more than 325 Broadway musicians left 20 theaters dark in New York City. In addition, stagehands and musicians voted to honor their picket lines. These musicians are furious and are in big numbers. They are/ have been losing their jobs to recorded music and want to prevent this from continuing. In order to do this, they have gone on strike and many other people in the theater business, such as actors or stagecraft have joined them. This shows how many people involved in the theater care about and support this matter. Many people in the theater business agree that live music is necessary for a Broadway musical and that mechanizing the music can really ruin the show. In addition, computer generated music really destroys and effects the way the music is supposed to sound, which is live and right in front of you.

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