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

Symonds, Dominic (2007) The story of Oh: the aesthetics and rhetoric of a common vowel sound. In: Song, Stage & Screen II, 23 - 25 March 2007, University of Leeds.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


We are familiar with the ubiquity of the word ‘Oh’ in all styles of song, yet it is possibly one of the most banal inclusions to any lyric line. Nevertheless, despite its apparent redundancy, the word becomes loaded with meaning in its performance, and thus becomes perhaps more laden with significance than other more apparently meaningful words. This paper will investigate the use of the word and sounds ‘Oh’ in a variety of different songs from the musical stage. We will see that in its simplicity its contribution to the musico-dramatic dynamic of musical theatre is in fact tremendously important. Perhaps it is even the semantic hollowness of the word itself (and ‘words’ like it) that enables, informs and establishes musical theatre as dramatic medium. In culmination we will recognise the performative importance of this and other non-semantic acoustic and verbalised signifiers.

Keywords:Oh, Phonetics, Voice, Song
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W310 Musicianship/Performance studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:22456
Deposited On:09 Mar 2016 15:01

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