5 Composition Tips for New Musical Theatre Writers

05-15-23 10:36 PM By Kevin Lynch
Musical theatre composers are the creative minds behind the songs and music in a stage production. Composing for musical theatre is a challenging task that requires a great deal of skill, talent, and creativity. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for musical theatre composers to help create successful and memorable productions.

1. Tell a compelling story
The music in a musical theatre production must serve and carry the story. As a composer, your goal is to create music that helps tell the story in a way that is compelling, interesting, and emotional. The music should enhance the narrative, convey the emotions of the characters, and move the story forward. It's essential to work closely with a dramaturge, librettist, and actors to create music that supports the story's arc and structure.

2. Know your audience
Musical theatre productions are often created with a specific audience in mind. As a composer, you need to understand the tastes and expectations of your target audience if you decide to write something catering to the audience. Knowing your audience will help you create music that resonates with them, engages them emotionally, and keeps them engaged throughout the production. Research your audience's musical preferences and incorporate those elements into your compositions.

3. Collaborate effectively
Collaboration is critical to the success of a musical theatre production. As a composer, you will need to work closely with the librettist, director, choreographer, and musical director. Collaboration is key as it takes a village to make the show work. It's important to find a common language to discuss ideas, as well as to make changes and revisions when necessary and have a good working relationship with everyone involved in your production.

4. Study the greats
One of the best ways to improve as a musical theatre composer is to study the greats who came before you. Listen to classic musicals, such as "West Side Story," "The Phantom of the Opera," and "Les Miserables," and analyze their music. Pay attention to the structure, melody, harmony, and orchestration. You can also learn from contemporary musical theatre composers and see how they incorporate current musical trends into their compositions.

5. Embrace innovation
While it's important to study the classics, it's also essential to be innovative and create something new and unique. Embrace innovation and experimentation in your compositions. Don't be afraid to break the rules or incorporate unconventional musical elements into your work. Push the boundaries of what's expected in musical theatre, and you might just create something ground-breaking.

In conclusion, composing for musical theatre is a challenging but rewarding task. To succeed, composers must tell a compelling story, know their audience, collaborate effectively, study the greats, and embrace innovation. These tips will help musical theatre composers create successful and memorable productions that entertain and engage audiences.