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PanBroadway slang for a negative review from the critics. (antithesis of “rave”)

Papering the house – giving away free tickets to a performance so that a respectable size of audience will be in attendance.

Patter song – a type of song that is build upon a rapid delivery of the lyrics; often it is delivered in a spoken manner rather than sung.

Piracy – performing a show without previously securing performance rights, permission or paying proper royalty fees.

Pit orchestra – (see also Orchestra) the instrumental ensemble, which accompanies the singers onstage, is located in the pit area in front and below the main stage.

Plantation song – in contrast with the up-tempo, often humorous minstrel song, this song was more serious, emotional and more in the tradition of the popular parlor song of the 19th century.

Premiere – see Opening night.

Preview – one of the final rehearsals before opening night that is open to a full-paying audience; audiences are admitted free or at a reduced rate.

Prima Donna – the leading female role in an opera; also used as derogatory slang for a performer whose egotistical attitude and actions make them difficult to work with.

Producer – the person who is in charge of financial backing for a show; also oversees in all significant casting and production decisions related to personnel, theatre contracts and publicity.

Production number – an extended music and dance number that involves all or most of the cast.

Program – a printed brochure listing the scenes and settings, musical numbers, performing cast and production crew’s names and biographies; most often contains advertisements sold to aid in the financial backing of the production.

Prop – a portable object handled by the actors and used to support the action or activity of a scene, such as a cup, a hat, a tray or a knife.

Proscenium – the front wall of the stage that separates performance area from the audience.

Quartet – a musical song involving four performers.

Quick Change – an actor’s fast costume change most often necessitated by a short amount of time between the actor’s stage exit and next entrance.

Quintet – a musical song involving five performers.

Range – the span of musical notes from low to high that indicates a singers capabilities; also used to refer to the extent of an actor’s abilities to perform in a variety of acting styles or the breadth of types of characters they can effectively portray onstage.

Rave – a positive review from a critic (antithesis of a “pan”).

Recitative – a speaking style of singing that is built upon rhythmic articulation of a text rather than a smooth, lyrical melody.

Rehearsal pianist – a keyboard player who provides accompaniment for the singers and dancers during the early weeks of rehearsals before the orchestra arrives.

Reprise – the repetition of a song later in the same show.

Review – a public evaluation of a show by a media critic for a newspaper, radio, television or the Internet.

Revival – a new production of a show after the original production has closed.

Revue – a collection of songs and skits generally performed by a small ensemble cast centered around a central idea or theme, or the works of a singular composer; often humorous or satirical in nature.

Road company – a touring company who performs a musical “on the road” for audiences away from Broadway or major regional theaters.

Rock opera – a musical that borrows from rock musical styles and is often completely sung without any spoken dialogue.

Royalty – a fee paid in exchange for the permission to use or perform a stage work.

Run – the total length of scheduled performances of a stage work.

SATB chorus – a vocal ensemble that contains all four major vocal ranges: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass.

Scene – a subsection of an act, most often signified by a change in location, the passage of time in the plot, or the arrival of new characters onstage.

Scrim – A special type of curtain that, when lit from the front is opaque, but becomes ghostly transparent when lit from behind.

Season – the total stage offerings being performed by a theatre company within a calendar time frame.

Set – the collection of onstage backdrops, flats and furniture that places the action in a specific location or time in the plot.

Sheet music – the printed version of a song (melody, lyrics and complete piano accompaniment) from a show.

Showstopper – a song, dance or production number which is received so enthusiastically by the audience that the resulting applause stops the show from continuing any further; occasionally a portion of the number is “encored” by the performers before the play can proceed.

Sight gag – a visual bit that is included wholly for its humorous benefit.

Sleeper – a lesser-known show that exceeds the expectations of the critics or public to become a hit.

Soliloquy – a serious speech or song by a character that expresses their thoughts and emotions aloud for the audience.

Solo – a sung piece for a featured vocalist.

Song-and-dance team – a vaudeville duo who were proficient in performing humorous and popular songs of the time and tap dance routines.

Song form – the structure of a musical number, often ABA or AABA.

Song-plugger a singer in the late 19th- and early 20th-century whose job was to promote or demonstrate songs for a publisher or music store.

Soprano – the highest range of voice for female singers.

SROStanding Room Only – when all available seats for a performance are sold and additional discounted tickets are available for standing room space at the back of the theater.

Star entrance – a deliberate attempt to create dramatic anticipation for the first entrance of a featured lead performer that is designed to trigger applause from the audience not related to any particular song or event other than the performer’s entrance. 

Star vehicle – a show written specifically to highlight the abilities and talents of a single featured performer.

Subtext – a plot device where a secondary and deeper level of meaning exists beneath the primary text of the song.

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Study Units

An Overview

Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

An Overview

Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

An Overview

Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

Ch. 5: Western Swing

Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

An Overview

Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

Ch. 4: Rock is Named

Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

Study Units also have “Playdecks”which contain hundreds of chronologically organized audio examples of music in the study units, and “Study Q??s” for unit chapters.

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