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Establishing (and re-establishing) a sense of place: musical orientation in The Sound of Music

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In the 1965 film of The Sound of Music, concepts of space and place are embedded not only in the visuals, but also in Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical score. Music itself comes to constitute a home, or alternative sense of place, for the von Trapp family. Yi-Fu Tuan's notions of the familiarity of place form the basis for a reading of this musical film: our world begins as undifferentiated space, which gradually becomes place through processes of repetition. In the genre of musical theatre, multiple levels of musical form provide a sense of orientation or place to the abstract space opened up by music: sites of internal musical repetition as well as sung and orchestral reprises. In The Sound of Music, concepts of place are performative, as the von Trapp family continually establishes and re-establishes a sense of place (a nuclear family and value system) through processes of musical reiteration.
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Keywords: music; place; repetition; reprise; sound; space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California, Los Angeles.

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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