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glossary detail

Rhythm Uptempo Song

Note: We used to call this kind of song a "charm" song; many composers still do. We have found, however, that the commodity "charm" has gone out of fashion in musical theatre, and songs which used to be considered charming are now rather old-fashioned and approach parody. The artistic elements of a rhythm/uptempo remain the same, however.

Rhythm/Uptempo songs are defined by the rhythm – not merely the rhythm in the accompaniment, but also and especially the rhythmic syncopation of the melodic line.

The lyrics to a rhythm/uptempo song are usually optimistic and not as serious or ambitious as those of a ballad, and the words will contain lots of good, hard consonants and rhythmic phrases that lend themselves to syncopation.

The quintessential rhythm/uptempo song must surely be "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" from Oklahoma!. The lyric is narrative and percussive, the tune is rhythmic and reflects the content of the words, and the effect in the theatre is uptempo beyond belief.

Rhythm/uptempo songs are not hard to find. They are the mainstay of a score, outnumbering ballads and comedy songs by at least two to one. Consider just a couple and examine how the words and music work together to create the rhythmic unity that produces such a high degree of charm in the theatre.

Changing My Major to Joan
Fun Home
Getting to Know You
The King and I
If You Were Gay
Avenue Q
Man Up
Book of Mormon
She Loves Me
She Loves Me
The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
Oklahoma (Hugh Jackman)
Rhythm Uptempo Song

Note: We used to call this kind of song a "charm" song; many composers still do. We have found, however, that the commodity "charm" has gone out of fashion in musical theatre, and songs which used to be considered charming are now rather old-fashioned and approach parody. The artistic elements of a rhythm/uptempo remain the same, however.

Rhythm/Uptempo songs are defined by the rhythm – not merely the rhythm in the accompaniment, but also and especially the rhythmic syncopation of the melodic line.

The lyrics to a rhythm/uptempo song are usually optimistic and not as serious or ambitious as those of a ballad, and the words will contain lots of good, hard consonants and rhythmic phrases that lend themselves to syncopation.

The quintessential rhythm/uptempo song must surely be "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" from Oklahoma!. The lyric is narrative and percussive, the tune is rhythmic and reflects the content of the words, and the effect in the theatre is uptempo beyond belief.

Rhythm/uptempo songs are not hard to find. They are the mainstay of a score, outnumbering ballads and comedy songs by at least two to one. Consider just a couple and examine how the words and music work together to create the rhythmic unity that produces such a high degree of charm in the theatre.




Changing My Major to Joan
Fun Home



Getting to Know You
The King and I



If You Were Gay
Avenue Q



Man Up
Book of Mormon



She Loves Me
She Loves Me



The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
Oklahoma (Hugh Jackman)