The story of Oh: the aesthetics and rhetoric of a common vowel sound

Symonds, Dominic (2008) The story of Oh: the aesthetics and rhetoric of a common vowel sound. Studies in Musical Theatre, 2 (3). pp. 245-259. ISSN 1750-3159

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Studies in Musical Theatre is the only peer-reviewed journal dedicated to musical theatre. It was launched in 2007 and is now in its seventh volume. It has an extensive international readership and is edited by Dominic Symonds and George Burrows.

This article investigates the use of the ‘word’ ‘Oh’ in a variety of different performance idioms. Despite its lack of ‘meaning’, the sound is used in both conversation and poetic discourse, and I discuss how it operates communicatively and expressively through contextual resonances, aesthetic manipulation and rhetorical signification. The article first considers the aesthetically modernist work of Cathy Berberian in Bussotti’s La Passion Selon Sade; then it considers the rhetorically inflected use of ‘Oh’ to construct social resonance in popular song;finally, it discusses two important uses of the sound ‘Oh’ which bookend the Broadway musical Oklahoma!, serving to consolidate the allegorical and musico-dramatic narrative of the show.

Keywords:Oh, Signifying Practice, Oklahoma!, vowel, signification, rhetoric, Digitised
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W310 Musicianship/Performance studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q131 Phonetics
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:9324
Deposited On:07 May 2013 13:17

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