Date of Completion

4-21-2017

Embargo Period

5-6-2018

Keywords

Hamilton; Lin-Manuel Miranda; Chorus; Ensemble; Musical Theater

Major Advisor

Jamie Spillane

Co-Major Advisor

Alain Frogley

Associate Advisor

Kenneth Fuchs

Associate Advisor

Jeffrey Renshaw

Associate Advisor

Rod Nelman

Field of Study

Music

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

Hamilton: A Musical Analysis of Ensemble Function

Matthew Louis Travis, DMA

The University of Connecticut, 2017

Abstract

There have been exhaustive studies on the presence of chorus in opera, there has been little writing on the musical theater ensemble.[1] To date, the only specific piece of academic scholarship on the matter is Joseph DeLorenzo’s 1985 dissertation, The Chorus in American Musical Theater: An Emphasis on Choral Performance. Because there are very few graduate programs in musical theater, and currently none at the doctoral level, there has been little scholarly writing about this art form as a whole and even less scholarship specific to ensemble function completed in the last 30 years.

Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the most successful Broadway productions in recent memory. While the work has gained fame for unparalleled box office success and celebrity appearances; the show is equally significant as a work of art. Almost universally acclaimed by critics, Hamilton has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, while receiving a record 16 Tony nominations winning 11, winning the George Washington Book Prize and Kennedy Prize for Drama. Additionally, the work contributed significantly to the selection of Lin-Manuel Miranda as a 2015 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow.

Hamilton has drawn considerable attention for the fusion of contemporary musical theater and hip-hop. Specifically the seemingly curious combination of a hip-hop musical written about an 18th century American founding father, while seemingly far-fetched has been achieved convincingly and adds to the allure and intrigue in the show. While these attributes are certainly worthy of further discussion, the unique function of the ensemble is something that is an interesting and perhaps underappreciated aspect of the performance and success of the musical. Thus, it is the function of this dissertation to analyze the musical role of the ensemble in Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

As this is the first dissertation about Miranda, the first chapter will include a biography of the composer. This will outline his early works and efforts before and after Hamilton. The second chapter is dedicated exclusively to Hamilton. It will include contextual information about the show including a table of revisions, which outlines the changes in musical content of the show from initial workshop to opening night on Broadway.[2] The third chapter will define the study and clarify terms, and provide context for the analysis. The fourth chapter is an analysis of each musical number in which the ensemble appears.

[1] For the purposes of this project, the words “chorus,” ”company” and “ensemble” will be used synonymously.

[2] This will include a synopsis of the articles written about the show, but will highlight significant new material including revisions, a listing of cut numbers, and comparison charts of content in each performance.

Available for download on Sunday, May 06, 2018

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