Broadway rhythm: imaging the city in song

Symonds, Dominic (2017) Broadway rhythm: imaging the city in song. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. ISBN 9780472130597, 9780472123339

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Item Type:Book or Monograph
Item Status:Live Archive


Broadway showtunes are legendary anthems to showbiz and paeans to ‘the city that never sleeps’. Time and again Broadway has turned a mirror on itself, writing songs, shows and storylines about showbiz, New York, or the great white way itself. This monograph explores New York through the music, the dance and the performance of its celebrated showtunes; more than this, it explores how Broadway as a phenomenon has ‘mapped’ the cultural and social development of Manhattan in its songs.

Broadway Rhythm brings a post-structuralist approach to New York and its showtunes to consider how the songsmiths 'musicalise their vision of the city’ (Garber). With influence from theories by de Certeau (walking in the city), Lynch (imageability), Deleuze and Guattari (stratification), Lefebvre (rhythmanalysis), and Koolhaas (Manhattanism), this study finds the trace of Broadway’s geographies, societies and identities not just in the lyrics or narratives of the songs, but also in their musical patterns, rhythms and performances. I suggest that the Broadway song can be used as a map to explore the city, the street and its industry. I see in its patterns articulations of the city that, along with other constructs, have composed the iconicity of New York: its rhythms can be read as the beat of urbanisation; its syncopation a pull against conformity; its melody a siren-call to opportunity; its vernacular the babel of the melting pot; and its dance the metaphorical expansion of an ever-growing city. In singing the showtune, in dancing it, in hearing its incessant rhythms, we sing the street and dance the city itself. Broadway Rhythm will offer a stimulating perspective on New York for scholars and students of the Broadway musical, cultural geography, urban studies, spatial theory, music, dance and theatre studies.

Keywords:Broadway, New York, Manhattan, music, urban theory, cartography, performative, songlines, rhythmanalysis, non-representational theory
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W500 Dance
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T700 American studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:9720
Deposited On:05 Jun 2013 14:24

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