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re: Do they ever change the key for replacement actors?
Last Edit: Chromolume 08:27 pm EST 11/13/22
Posted by: Chromolume 08:19 pm EST 11/13/22
In reply to: Do they ever change the key for replacement actors? - bobby2 05:25 am EST 11/13/22

Nothing has been yet said so far about the musical craft of transposing. Orchestrations may need to be changed beyond the parts just being put in a new key (or at very least re-voiced) because instrument ranges are affected. Likewise, choral or harmony parts that may need to be rethought. And, if it's not just a standalone song, how to get from the preceding "original key" music to the transposed section, and how to get out of it (say, into a dance arrangement that does not need or want to be transposed). Sometimes new musical bridges need to be created to allow that to happen. Sometimes, at least for me, the entire musical character of a song changes because of those alterations ("Will-A-Mania" is a prime example. The version available with the rental materials was the one changed for Marla Maples - not only is the key lower, but the intro is changed, and the quartet/choral harmonies are all changed as well. It sounds, at moments, like a different song to me than what was preserved on the OBC.)

And sometimes a transposition happens in the middle of a song. One can trace the title song from "Kiss Of The Spider Woman" from its original 2-octave range (to be sung by a man - an arrangement of this still exists in the revue The World Goes Round), to Chita's version (spanning an octave and a sixth) to Vanessa's version (spanning an octave and a fourth). Ignoring the starting key of any of those versions and just looking at the intervals, the change takes place on the downbeat of the refrain ("And the moon grows dimmer") - and of course a change back is needed before the 2nd verse. It's fascinating to see how they did it.

And as while we're on that show, comparing the original cast recording to the Vanessa Williams cast - a good many of the songs changed keys for that 2nd cast - evident on the recording.

And, a bit of fun trivia. Where in Spelling Bee does the piano part become impossible to play as strictly written, because of a bass note that goes below the range of the standard instrument? It's in "My Unfortunate Erection" which at one point calls for a low left hand Ab, one black key beyond where standard pianos go. The reason? The song was transposed down half a step at some point in the show's development (pre-Broadway), and the mistake of the non-existent note was never proofread/corrected.
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