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progressions in musical theatre songs

…give your songs action, plot, and forward momentum

Direct to you from New Musicals Inc.’s “Lyric Lab,” here are five ways to make sure your song is telling a story in your musical, and progresses the action!

Progression: an underlying organization which gives shape or movement to the idea of the lyric.

A lyric with progression will begin the listener at one point and deliver him to a different point at the end.

This video explores five different progressions you might use to make sure your musical theatre song forwards the action of your show.

  • Problem/Solution
    Viewpoint
    Pronoun Progression
    Past/Present/Future
    Calendar or Clock
    Geography

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This video is from Unit 2 of “The Lyric Lab - Fundamentals” — an online course from New Musicals Inc.

Also of interest:

The Lyric Lab

The Lyric Lab is a hands-on class packed with videos, exercises, tests, handouts, and assignments, guiding you through essentials of writing musical theatre lyrics. The course is hosted by Emmy-nominated Scott Guy (Disney, NBC, PBS, Warner Brothers), with feedback from Larry Todd Cousineau (All That He Was, Flies! the Musical, 40 is the New 15).

The Lyric Lab has been helping hundreds of lyricists for a decade. And now it’s been completely updated, drawing from examples from contemporary Broadway musicals like Hamilton, Evan Hansen, Hadestown, as well as classic musicals from Golden Age.

In Lyric Lab I - Fundamentals, you’ll focus on key areas of craft, including musical theatre song structure, telling your story through lyrics, perfect rhyme and near rhyme, matching the accents of lyric to the music, how to decide which songs to write, and how to format your musical to get it ready to submit to theatres and producers.

You can take this course at your own pace. It’s designed for one unit a week, but you can take it faster or slower; from anywhere in the world. It’s all online.

Fill out the info form, and we’ll tell you how to get started on the Lyric Lab today!

Musical Theatre Writers' Resource Center

You might also be interested in NMI’s Musical Theatre Writers’ Resource Center. This is a FREE page provided by New Musicals Inc. We’ve gathered in one place lots of info we think will be useful to writers of musical theatre. Lists of contests, producers, theatres, tips and tricks, musical theatre history, and a fantastic Idea Generator filled with plays, stories, and idea-springboards yours for the taking (no rights restrictions!).

Fill out the info form, and we’ll tell you how to get access to the free Resource Center.