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Ancient Plays: Are They Musicals?

In: Greek and Roman Musical Studies
Author:
Timothy J. Moore Washington University in St. Louis USA

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3195-8495
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Abstract

Almost all ancient plays have three things in common with most modern musicals. First, the basic structure of most ancient plays, like most musicals, involved alternation between song and speech. Second, the songs of ancient plays, like those of musicals, could have a wider cultural relevance, living on beyond their original performance context. Third, in most ancient plays, as in musicals, there is a strong sense that song and dance are as important as, or even more important than, what occurs in spoken dialogue in providing pleasure to the audience and conveying the meaning of plays. Scholarship of the last decade has made clearer the centrality of music to ancient theater and has taken important steps in understanding how that music worked.

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