Renaissance Art and Impressionism: The Influence of Art and Science

When comparing art throughout the ages, the Renaissance period perfectly demonstrated the ideal of harmony and balance. Compared to others like Pop Art, Impressionism, Classicism, and Baroque, the Renaissance period representing a time of structure and precision. Renaissance art includes unique qualities such as strong elements of form, color, proportion, light, shade, spatial harmony, composition, and perspective. This is done by placing emphasizes on composition and imagination towards an object or character symmetrically proportioned. Also common from this period are themes on religion and humanism. Together, the use and quality of Renaissance art made significant influence on Impressionism and the artistic era that followed. This can be observed by comparing the works from these historical periods.


School of Athens

A classic masterpiece from the Renaissance period is the painting, “School of Athens”. Painted by Raphael in 1509 on the walls of the Vatican, the piece showcases the age of philosophy and the school of thought. In this painting more than 60 famous philosophers and scientists unite in a huge architectural framework. At center are Plato and Aristotle, surrounded by other major philosophers. They move, act, teach, discuss and become excited. The painting celebrates classical thought, but it is also dedicated to the liberal arts. “All of the characters painted in this painting represent the new perception, the development of mankind”, (Bordens, 2010).


Perspective and attention to light are the core ideas to artists during this time. This includes architectural accuracy in backgrounds, applying science and geometrics into the work. This scientific element of balance is seen in, The School of Athens. “Plato and Aristotle are centrally walking in a peripatetic manner through the Lyceum”, (Alexandros, 2005). Linear perspective is used, a method to show 3-Dimensional objects on a flat surface, making “objects appear to be moving away from the viewer and meet at a single point on the horizon, the vanishing point”, (Alexandros, 2005). In this painting Plato and Aristotle are stressed, signifying their importance. Represented from left and right is a sculpture on each side, enhancing the symmetry. There is also, although not perfect or proportional, some temporal ordering of the persons from the center. This creates both balance and harmony of the piece. It brings together both science and art to showcase the cultural movement in learning.


From Renaissance to Impressionism

After the Renaissance period, other movements like Baroque, Classicism, Romanism, Impressionism, Post & Neoimpressionism, etc. emerged respectively. Each of these movements has its own special characteristics as well as contribution to the world of art. One of the movements seen after the Renaissance is Impressionism. Impressionism was directly influenced by the Renaissance period and made a significant imprint on the revolution of art. The Impressionist era broke away from Renaissance characteristics, providing elements of art that are uniquely its own.


Luncheon of the Boating Party

The Luncheon of the Boating Party is an exceptional piece of work painted by Auguste Renoir in 1881. The artist uses various costumes of character, color, and setting to convey the pleasures of a sunny afternoon among friends. “Renoir’s palette has a golden glow”, (Flattmann, 2007). This is observed in the skin of the ladies as, “it shines under the warmth of the sun at the terrace”, (Flattmann, 2007). The straw hats and bared arms of character indicated the warmth of the sun and the spirit of the occasion.


In Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, the artist’s process appears to be authentic and fresh. The painting shows consistency seen of Impressionist art as the piece captures the use of light and color. “By composing a group of figures into a singular, the harmonious moment in time requires careful visual examination of the painting’s composition”, (Kloss, 2005). This demonstrates Renoir’s skill and his contribution to art history. Detailed observation of the paint surface reveals the high level of skill in the techniques of oil painting that Renoir developed. “The character of his brushwork varies from brightly colored, thickly applied paint in the still life on the table, to the feathered brushstrokes of the landscape in the background”, (Flattman, 2007). In the figures, Renoir has used distinct outlines and subtle changes of light that helps to clearly define the full dimensions of the human body and facial features.


Value of Impressionism

Impressionists liked to paint real life subjects and scenes, including everyday life, people at work, women, and children playing. Landscape, nature, and time are considered to be important elements of everyday outdoor activities, which is natural and full of light. Objects look different at different times of day and impressionist took advantage of this. They captured the very moment of a certain time, showing the effect of light and color in an open composition. However, “the Renaissance put an important value on the historical content, emotions, and perception, impressionism focus on color and composition”, (Kloss, 2005).


Differences and Comparisons

Several differences can be seen when comparing the paintings from Renaissance and Impressionism. The motivation for painting has changed. While impressionist art showcase light and time, Renaissance paintings showcase light and science. The impressionist painted themes such as people and society, however, Renaissance art include themes such as religion and philosophy. Without religious-oriented themes, Impressionist art took a new and different direction. Impressionism used art to express society and life daily moments versus the pursuit of learning and science. Themes expressed during the Renaissance period widen and encourage the knowledge of man.

Other qualities stand when comparing Renaissance and Impressionist art. This is because Impressionism did not follow the laws of geometry, like symmetry. This is seen by the paint strokes on the canvas found in Impressionism, such as the “careful concern turned rough using depiction and style… quick dip of the brushstroke to catch the immediate moment”, (Flattmann, 2007). Doing this emphasizes contrast and depth. By rejecting central and measured objects, it creates a new way of expression. It created, “a harmonious close space, a progressive breakthrough of the rigidness of the previous eras”, (Kloss, 2005). In addition to the different range of colors used during this time, it demonstrates a colorful approach to texture.

During the Renaissance each and every painting has its own meaning through historical context and biblical themes. So to understand the message behind a Renaissance painting, it requires the audience to have an understanding of European history, Christianity, and the social factors of the time. In impressionism however, it’s easier to understand the open context of the painting. Themes include social scenes that can be warm and inviting or express life’s simple moments. With these differences both movements express the evolution of western art, such as the social and historical impact of art and artistic expression.

The birth of Renaissance symbolizes the recovery of interest in classical Greco and Roman antiquity and values. The birth of Impressionism gave a new concept of art. Impressionist created their own method of self-expression, showing a spiritual context, ideas about the surrounding world, and the introduction of industrial mechanics. Each era has special characteristics that attract others, whether or not they accepted the style. The Renaissance has a long history of development. It represents high art, sophistication, growth and interest in knowledge. However, Impressionism is still young, developed in the late 19th century-early 20th century, (Bordens, 2010). It was the differences between the two historical periods include society, culture, and religious perception, that make these two styles unique from the other.



By analyzing the two periods of art, a better understanding can be reached concerning their impact to society, culture, and perspective of the people living in those times. If the Renaissance movement changed the artistic society by their ability to unite art and science, Impressionism movement has changed how they use art and science to change artistic society. There is no other art movement that has changed world as much as the Renaissance. Italy was at the center of the Renaissance period, as they recovered and reclaimed Greek and Roman tradition influenced by art and science. This includes the spheres of architecture, literature, science, philosophy, and mythology. The Renaissance era encouraged knowledge and changed the world of art. With this, the Impressionists rebuilt an inner spirit by taking these ideals and using it to show the art and science observed in people, nature, and time.



 Aexandros, K. (2005, May 01). The school of athens. Retrieved from   

Bordens, K. (2010). Contextual information, artistic style and the perception of art.             Empirical Studies of the Arts , 28(1), 111-130.

Flattmann, A. (2007). The art of pastel painting. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing             Company.

Kloss, W. (2005). Fine arts and music: A history of European art. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company. Retrieved from Guidebooks/A History of European Art, Part IV.pdf


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Tintoretto: The Last Supper

Tintoretto was a popular Italian painter of 15th century Europe, who created various works of art recognized throughout the period. The most important of these is the religious painting, The Last Supper. The Last Supper is known as one of the most artistically interpreted story of the Bible. The Last Supper is literally the last supper. It is the last supper Jesus Christ had with his disciples before his crucifixion and resurrection. During the last supper, Jesus spoke to with his followers, broke bread, and offered wine in his remembrance. This story is best known for its relationship with a religious ceremony, or Eucharist. It is a practice performed by Christian denominations around the world. The ceremony known as Communion is an important symbol in Christianity. It represents belief in Christ, including his birth, death, resurrection, and teachings. In this way, The Last Supper represents classic art that reflects the religious movement of the time. It encourages devotion and Catholicism through symbolism, light, and identity.

Jacapo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, was born 1518 and died 1594 in Venice, Italy (Lewis and Lewis 304). It is rumored that Tintoretto had an “apprenticeship with Titan” however, “a contemporary pointed out that Tintoretto’s style was formed by studying formal elements of the Tuscan school” (Pallucchini). Tintoretto learned about and studied art formally. This helped to produce a unique style that is popular and greatly recognized today. In his lifetime Tintoretto painted many pieces, most reflecting religion and Christian stories of the Bible. He practiced art utilizing various forms. From sketches to molds and sculptures, Tintoretto played with and mastered the form of light (Pallucchini). He painted ceiling art also. It is seen in his early period, painting “with mythological themes which exhibit singular refinement in perspective and narrative clarity” (Pallucchini). Stories from the Bible was often used to demonstrated his faith. It allowed Tintoretto to, “offer an illustrated Bible to the crowds of poor” in 16th century Venice (Pallucchini).

Tintoretto’s life and art is defined by the era of Counter-Reformation. Counter-Reformation is recognized as, “the roman Catholics attempt to combat the protestant reformation that had swept through much of Europe during the 16th century” (Lewis and Lewis 305). This was expressed through the Protestants and Catholics battle of beliefs. Although both are Christian denominations, each side argued over different fundamentals of the Bible and social control of the people. To encourage Catholicism, “in 1545, Pope Paul II convened the Council of Trent to recommend changes in church policy and new initiatives” (Lewis and Lewis 304). One initiative was religious art, decoration, and representation. This artistic era is known as Mannerism. It was a time after the Renaissance and before the Baroque. Mannerism offers the important link between the two eras. It “reflects the dynamic spirit of Counter-Reformation” (Lewis and Lewis 304). Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent gave rules and regulations for the art of this era. It held that, “the faithful are instructed and strengthened by commemorating and frequently recalling the articles of our faith through the expression in pictures or other likeness of the stories of the mysteries of our redemption” (qtd. in Albury and Weisz 12).

Counter-Reformation represented Catholicism and its biblical interpretations. Tintoretto represented this in his artistic piece, The Last Supper. This piece is of historical and artistic importance for various reasons. Albury and Weisz state that, “The Last Supper has been a constant theme in Western Art from at least the 6th century”. Today, there are various interpretations of the Last Supper, the most popular being by Leonardo Di Vinci. The two artistic representation of the Last Supper by Di Vinci and Tintoretto has been compared and analyzed by various scholars for their differences in style, color, use of light, and overall interpretation. Lewis and Lewis describe Tintoretto’s style of painting as, “dramatic, full of energy, opposing motions, and swirling lines” (305). As a result, Tintoretto was able to, “make his biblical stories live” (Lewis and Lewis 305).

Tintoretto’s, The Last Supper, is uniquely different from other interpretations. The table of the last supper is not symmetrical and is drawn at an angel, almost as if the end of the table is disappearing into the shadows. Although there are twelve known disciples, they cannot be pointed out in the painting and the image of Judas cannot be identified from the crowd. Judas is often thought to be an intricate part of the story and its representation. Judas is the known antagonist, the disciple who would betray Jesus for pieces of silver. Another unique interpretation of Tintoretto’s piece is Christ himself. In this painting, “Christ is not a static, stationary figure, nor is he the clear center of the composition; he stands about halfway down the table handing out bread” (Lewis and Lewis 305). The viewer can point Jesus out from the rest due to his glowing halo. The representation also includes angels floating, animals, and servants, amid a dark room.

Tintoretto’s depiction of The Last Supper is important to Catholicism and represents the era and time of the piece. Catholics believe not only in Jesus, but also in saints and others of divine order. Catholics relate to and identify themselves with holy and divine people. This aspect can be observed in Tintoretto’s interpretation. To bring closeness to the story and relate it with the times, Tintoretto incorporated specific elements to the piece. “Tintoretto has added everyday events, like servants clearing away food and a cat looking into a basket; This normal scene makes the rest of the picture seem even more miraculous by contrast” (Lewis and Lewis 305). As a result, Tintoretto depicted a biblical image that is uniquely Catholic. He encouraged personal identification with Jesus, the disciples, and the last supper. This was done by incorporating the servants into the image and encouraging a personal environment. The picture is generally dark, except for Jesus’ halo and the light surrounding the disciples. “The complete darkness in the painting not only reflects the darkness of the evening of supper time, and also symbolizes the domination of ignorance in the human world”, including protestants, (“” 2012).

There are elements found in The Last Supper that caused criticism. Some have criticized this piece due to inaccuracies. However, these inaccuracies are allowed by the Council of Trent. It was done purposely by the artist to dispel controversies about the meaning of Communion. This includes rules of nature and fundamental foundations of Catholicism. “Painters were allowed to embellish their subjects in the interest of persuasiveness and these embellishments could include inaccuracies so long as they were not contrary to doctrine or mortality” (Albury & Weisz 13). Such criticism and inaccuracies include Judas and the fact that he could not be found and there is no clear arrangement of twelve disciples. As a result, the piece lacks realism. This can be seen in, “the roughly dressed people… as senseless as the animals painted in the painting”, (“”, 2012). Instead, Tintoretto’s interpretation involves movement, light, background, and foreground. This allows the painting to depict more than Jesus and The Last Supper; it represents spirituality, comradery, and life, both heavenly and earthly.

Although Tintoretto lived in a time that was dominated by religious art, ironically Tintoretto was observed painting biblical paintings even before the Council of Trent in 1545. This is important to understanding the artist. Consequently, he illustrated Biblical stories not because of law or initiatives. Tintoretto did this because of his love for his religion and his devotion to his art. His work, as seen in The Last Supper and others, it shows Tintoretto as a classic religious artist of his time. It demonstrates his, “deep but independent faith in the religious myths, unrestricted by any rules of the Counter-Reformation, is apparent” (Pallucchini).


Works Cited

Albury, W, and G Weisz. “Depicting the Bread of the Last Supper: Religious Representation in Italian Renaissance Society.” Journal of Religion and Society. 11. (2009): 1-17. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <;.

“The Last Supper by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto.” Bachelor&, 24, Apr 2012. Web. 24 Apr 2012. <;.

Lewis, R, and S Lewis. The Power of Art. 2nd. Belmont, CA: Thomas Wadsworth, 2009. eBook. < power of art by lewis and college&ots=x6YkmTFQLq&sig=lyiD5Gl9fXsAp3EGVIZOT7lOJ2o

Pallucchini, R., “Tintoretto.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <;.

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Modernism in Art throughout the 19th Century and 20th Century

The modern world of the 19th and 20th century made society to see the world in a new light. Influenced by industrialization and machinery, new worlds were colonized and the working class was exploited by capitalism for labor. This changing society spawned a new form of art known as modernism. Modernism moved art to a new plateau as it used color in much different ways. Modernist used shapes and color contrasts for artistic expression. “Modernism thus implies certain concerns about art and aesthetics that are internal to art production, regardless of whether the artist is producing scenes from contemporary social life”, (Kleiner 654). By examining modern art from beginning to end, one can understand the significance this has to history and the emerging industrial world.

Modernism represents an important period of art history. This is because of the political and historic events of the era. Most importantly, it transformed art by redirecting the sense of art to the art its self. It developed during the late 19th century, 1870 Europe. It was a new artistic expression spawned from a new era. During this time Europe was experiencing an industrial revolution. They lived in a capitalistic society where industrialization made a growing economy. Cities were becoming more urban. This began to influence art, its images and forms. Kleiner explains this best when he states, “modernism used art to call attention to art”, (654). In modernist paintings, the art is expressed by emphasizing the concerns of art. This is seen in van Gogh’s Starry Night which broke against traditional forms. The painted scene shows movement by painting the night and stars in swirls. The era was also stimulated by the after affects of World War I. Artist were critical of arts its self, causing different expressions and representations of the world around them. Modernism gave way to movements such as Realism and Impressionism seen in Paris. Life in Paris was transformed in a new way. Many of these are described as sketches due to the quality the art presents. Color is used and expressed in new and dynamic ways to have true color or white light. Shadow is also used much differently. An artist recognized for Impressionism was Claude Monet. This is seen in this painting Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (in Sun) and also Impressions Sunrise. In these pieces, Monet uses like-colors throughout the canvas and uses these similar hues to highlights the scene and shadows. “Modernism lies in the use of the characteristic methods of a discipline to critique the discipline itself- not in the order to subvert it, but to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence”, (Kleiner 654). Additional Modernist artist include Picasso.

Modernism remained into the 20th century. It continued to be recognized for its form of artistic expression “whereby painting becomes less and less reprentational and more to do with the material of the paint on the canvas”, (Hatt & Klank 231). Whereas 19th century art was limited to Europe, 20th century art expanded to the Americas. It was first seen in 1940’s New York. Later it expanded to India and practiced throughout Mexico and Delhi. Many of these modernist artists are expressed in postcolonial theory. It describes how foreign nations are influenced by colonialism. Expressionism observed in places such as Mexico emphasizes the cultural differences between natives and colonialist. Similar to what is seen in the 19th century modernism, abstract expressionism emerged following World War II. It reached throughout different eras to create Cubism and Dada known for its visual elements (Kleiner). Artist such as Diego Rivera were influenced by the impressionism and symbolism of European art. In the 1920 he created painted murals in both Mexico and the US from the Latin perspective of the farming working class. Throughout the 1930’s Rivera painted pieces such as Man at the Crossroads With Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a  New and Better Future and Detrioit Industry. In these paintings there are many colors where each image is defined. These pieces have mechanical themes with images showing progression and its relationship with mankind. “The first major American avant-grade movement… the artists produced abstract paintings that expressed their state of mind and they hoped would strike emotional chords in the viewers”, (Kleiner 805). This was also seen in American painter Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. They created abstract images to encourage the viewer to observe a common item from a new perspective using color or form.

Modernism was an artistic movement which could be observed throughout the world from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. It can be seen in both America and Europe, representing a movement important to time and history. This includes industrialization and colonialism. Early modern artist created art that was influenced by a changing world. Monet used swirls to provide form and color of a starry night while Rivera created art to suggest industry and oppression of a Latin people. Modernism moved artist to observe the world in new ways. This was seen in Abstract Expressionism produced by de Kooning to show abstract movement through shapes and contrasting color. By understanding art, one can better understand history and the feelings observed by a changing society.


Works Cited

Hatt, M, and C Klonk. Art History: A critical introduction to its methods. New York, NY: Manchester University Press, 2006. eBook. < of art&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6R-KVPz7G4a0ggSV3YIg&ved=0CEEQ6AEwAzgK

Kleiner, F. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages The Western PErspective Volume II. 13. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. < and 20th century modern art&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NimKVMfWFoidNv2pgsAN&ved=0CFcQ6AEwCA

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Music in Musicals: The Relationship between Song Functions and Hit Songs

Author Richard Kislan defines musical theater as, “total theater, an artistic system that… encourages the use of techniques beyond the spoken word” (4). Through the use of music, the theater is transformed beyond visual stimulation. It includes not only instruments but vocals as well. Through instruments and vocals, music communicates to the audience information about the storyline and cast of characters. It rouses elements such as mood, personality, and can foreshadow future events. What uniquely differentiates musicals from theatrical plays is that songs become part of the storyline. Songs are intricately woven within the script of the drama, giving music its own role and function. By examining the function of song in musicals, one can better understand how musical theater generates popular hits among audiences. Often a hit song can determine the success of play, by its usefulness, the emotions it evokes, and the use of chords and execution.

Songs in musicals are popular and this has remained throughout the decades. Audience members find themselves catching on to a snappy tune or choosing their favorites songs from the production. Not only is it music that holds the audience but the story that is communicated through song. Music allows directors to emphasize the emotion of the drama. The music within musicals can gain attention to the production and generate larger audiences. As such, “hit songs are now being routinely written and performed by the same people who generate audience demand for more hit songs from them” (Kislan 276). Often a song within a musical can survive longer than the popularity of the musical itself. One example is the song “All the Jazz”, from the 1975 musical Chicago. Although one may not have seen the production, the song is familiar to most due to its signature chorus and memorable tune. The song is upbeat, adding energy to the show all the while maintaining the attention of the audience.  Consequently, “the use of music heightens any situation… so when a character in a musical suddenly burst into song, something of major importance is happening or about to happen” (Fisher & Kayes 27).

Although audiences are captivated by the music in musicals, music has an important and primary function in the musical theater. This is because songs have strong attention to detail to the drama that unfolds. Through musicals, the director can give the audience additional insight into the story line by effectively interpreting thought and emotion of a character. Furthermore, song allows the director to save time on giving backstory, developing the setting, or creating a time lapse. In this way, “music allows the audience to multi task, processing different layers of information” (Fisher & Kayes 29). Not only are songs the definition of musical theater it also plays a vital role in how the story is interpreted or portrayed overall. Majority of songs written for musicals cannot be omitted from a scene. Music in musicals holds a message that must be delivered to the audience. Without the use of song, the information provided through music will be lost. Without the songs found in musicals, the audience may have difficulty identifying with the emotions of the performance, losing interest or information that is important to the plot.

An important function of song in musicals is the character song. The character song is a song that defines the character. It “gives the audience a clear understanding of what the character is feeling… [or] the history of that person” (Leech). Character songs are divided into segments to include the, I am song, I want song, reprises, and emotional climax songs. Through character songs, a character is able to introduce themselves to viewers letting the audience in on vital information given through song. This way viewers hold a better understanding of the characters personality, role, and how he or she may interact with others. An example of this can be seen in the Little Shop of Horrors. In this play the character, Orin Scivello, reveals to the audience his need to inflict pain on others. A savage dentist who takes advantage of his job, he enjoys making children cry and intimidating others with tools and devices to hurt people. Singing, “I’m your Dentist”, this character is able to freely express his thrill for inflicting pain without the use of dialogue or letting the other characters in on his secrets. Through song, Orin Scivello communicates his thoughts directly to the audience asserting his antagonistic nature. Character songs not only have function in musicals but also become popular hits. This is because the audience is able to create an emotional connection with the character weather this is through empathy or shock.

Another function of song in musicals is to tell a story. These are known as exposition songs, conflict songs, narrative songs, and summary songs. Songs that tell a story are significant and, “one of the most important functions” (Leech). Through the use of song the audience can be caught up on subjects not included in the dialogue. This includes the musical’s back story, setting, or a specific incident in time. It can also be used to summarize an event or even to narrate the play. In songs that tell a story an outside character can sing without taking away from the meaning of the song and its relation to the plot. For instance, narrative songs allows special guest to sing instead of the main character. Doing this should not take away from audience awareness and understanding. Most often these songs will “fill the audience so that we know exactly why and how they are here… and an idea of what’s going to happen”, (Leech). “No One Mourns the Wicked” from the musical Wicked is the perfect example of a song that tells a story. It is not only the opening song, but it proves to be an informative song for the audience. It tells a story which brings the viewer up to date. In this way, the audience is made aware of changes within the show including a new plot twist, growth, or a characters change of heart.

“To harness the enormous energy of music and channel it into the theatrical expression, composers control the use of its principal components: melody, harmony, and rhythm” (Kislan 217). Through these musical techniques a composer is able to create a hit song. These elements can evoke the spirit of the play and emotion from the audience. However, in today’s era the hit musical song emphasizes sound. While the lyrics of the song are important and relevant to the storyline, the sound is what generates the energy and emotion that dominates. This gives the song uniqueness, pulling at the heartstrings of viewers. The emphasis of sound is popular in contemporary music which is observed throughout songs across genres. Kislan suggests this is associated with the rise of MTV. Music video’s puts a spin on creativity in musical content, focusing less on vocals. Instead, to reach wider audiences music is heavily expressed through sound and audio. As such, “in the adolescence of the American musical who wrote hit songs for immediate enjoyment, modern composers for the serious musical theater embody dramatic objectives in the melody they create” (Kislan 217).

Incidentally, the musical Wicked contains many songs that have become popular hits. One reasoning is that it, “reflects contemporary issues or stylistic trends” (Fisher & Kayes 28). Wicked is a production that reaches a younger audience demographic. This is an audience that once had little interest in musical theater, teenage girls. However, composer Dave Malloy suggests that songs from musicals become hits due to a combination of chords that is highly favored by listeners. He refers to these chords as the “sus chord”. “The sus chord is one in which the third of a chord is replayed by a more unresolved, ‘suspended’ note, the second or fourth”, (Malloy). While some chords of music generate joyful sounds such as the major chords, minor chords do the opposite producing sounds that are sad and melancholy. However when one uses chords that are uncertain, that sounds produced stimulates feelings of expectation and anticipation. The use of the popular sus chord can be heard in Wicked’s highly acclaimed song, “Defying Gravity”. The song appears in the second act of the play, working the audience as well as the cast of characters with the use of melody and vocal power.

Song continues to have an intricate function in musical theater. It becomes part of the play and works to tell a complete story. Yet song has another function within musicals, it can maintain interest and popularity of a show long after it is over. It can also stimulate sales and the success of a show. “Since hit songs meant lines at the box office, a policy ran headlong against the prevailing currents in Broadway musical production… what merged was a more fluid and compact union of song and story” (Kislan 116-7). Songs from musical productions are linked to the events of the drama and its cast of characters. Through the popularity of musical’s song hits, it raised the bar of audience expectations. This includes the manner in which music is used and conveyed throughout a production. Although some professionals argue a hit song becomes popular by using a specific set of chords in music, the drama and emotions produced helps to stimulate popularity. It is the combination of chords and production drama that create hit songs.

In conclusion, the makings of a hit song should not only include the perfect use of musical chords. It must “personify character, foreshadow mood, echo emotion, underscore dialogue, and parallel the librettos emerging patterns of action and rest”, (Kislan 117).



Works Cited

  1. Fisher, Jeremey, and Gillyanne Kayes. “GCSE: Musical Theatre.” Classroom Music. Spring 2004/05: 28-32. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. <;.
  1. Leech, Lucy. “The Function of Musical Theatre Songs.”Prezi(2012): n.pag. Prezi Inc. Web. 13 Jan 2014. <;.
  1. Kislan, Richard. The Musical: A Look at the American Musical Theater. New York, NY: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 1995. eBook. < and hit songs theatre&ots=LjONcbPFob&sig=nRZkkgFQ2l7C0wh4oONeWMrdPvo
  1. Malloy, Dave. “A Slushy in the Face: Musical Theater Music and the Uncool.” Essays, Practice, Opinions. Howlround, 11 Dec 2011. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. <;.
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Is Marriage Happily Ever After?

Young women around the world dream of love and marriage from an early age. Girls plan out their dream wedding, provide names for their future children, and imagine their prince charming. Recent studies have concluded that these young girls are right, married women and men are much happier than those who are not. Not only are married people happier, they are healthier, have greater social support and economic stability than their single counter parts. However, this fact brought on additional questions about marriage and happiness. Are married people happier and healthier than the unmarried couple who lives together? What about the unhappy marriage; are couples who are unhappily married better-off than the unmarried individual? It is these questions that gave way to curiosity about love, happiness, and marriage. Conducting extensive research on the general health, happiness, and well-being of the married couple compared to the unmarried cohabitating couple, there are various factors put into place that can provide answers to these questions. As a result, this study will indicate the economic, social, and health disparities seen in the married couple compared to the unmarried couple. Research will demonstrate that the married couple is happier and healthier than the cohabitating couple.

Since the 1950’s unwed couples living together have increased dramatically. It is estimated that, “1.2 million people over the age of 50 are currently cohabitating”, (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2004). However, there are two distinct cohabitating trends, young couples who are living together with the expectation of one day marrying and older couples who have no expectation of getting married. Unlike the younger cohabitating couple, older couples are more likely to have been previously married. As such, their grounds for entering cohabitating relationship greatly differ than the younger couple testing the waters before marriage. Studying the cohabitating couple, the fundamental question is, “do these unmarried cohabitating partnerships provide adults with mental health benefits that are similar to those enjoyed by marrieds”, (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2004). The answer to this is no.

A study conducted by Brown, Bulanda, and Lee in 2004, indicated that, “poor and near-poor [individuals] are more likely to be cohabitating than their non-poor counter parts”. This suggest that cohabitating unmarried couples are more likely to live together for the main purpose of economic support. This point rings truth as “cohabitating men are less likely to be working and have smaller incomes than either married or single men”, (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2004). Men are more likely to live with a woman to save money versus for the physiological effects of being close to a loved one or to build or reaffirm a relationship. Waite and Gallagher explained that economic benefits of cohabitating relationships are less beneficial to unwed couples because they are unwed. There is no financial security between the cohabitating couple. Cohabitating couples are less likely to complain to one another about poor spending habits or spending haphazardly. Most cohabitating couples feel that, just as long as the bills are paid, they cannot complain to their partner about how his or her money is spent. However, married couples are more likely to complain about poor spending habits. They have free access to one another’s accounts where money is viewed as ours versus mine. In addition, married couples tend to discuss spending habits with one another making future plans and investments; whereas cohabitating couples do not show interest in their economic future.

“Supportive relationships can directly influence health by facilitating health-promoting behaviors and decreasing maladaptive coping behaviors,” (Kiecolt-Glaser & Newton, 2001). In 2003 a study conducted by Kristi Williams, research shows that, “being continually unmarried is associated with poorer psychological wellbeing relative to being married”. In addition, the state of being happy, or rather happier than the cohabitating couple or single individual, is that the economic stability and social support observed in marriages is what promotes and encourages happiness. Married couples are more likely to point out bad habits and unhealthy practices, overall encouraging good health. Wives often promote better nutrition by either providing balanced meals for their husbands or discouraging unhealthy eating habits. Lin and Umberson admitted that married couples, “improve health by providing care in the event of illness, allowing the purchase of care and resources, and increased probability of access to health insurance”.

Good health in married couples is further indicated as, “single men drink twice as much as married men”, (Waite & Gallagher, 2010). In addition, married men are more likely to not drink at all compared to single men. The research study provided by Waite and Gallagher also indicated that mortality rates of single men are much higher than married men. Their study showed that mortality in single men is 250% higher than married men and “single women have mortality rates that are 50% higher than married women”, (Waite & Gallagher, 2010). The same study concluded that “9 out of 10 married men and women alive at the age of 48 are alive at the age of 65”. However, “cohabitating couples are less likely to monitor each other’s health”, (Waite & Gallagher, 2010). These numbers undoubtedly prove that married couples are much healthier than single individuals and cohabitating couples.

Social support is an important factor in a marriage. The same is also true for single people and cohabitating couples. However, married people are more likely to have additional and more reliable support from friends and family than the unmarried person. This is seen as married couples have more family relationships for support including in-laws, extended family, and children. The single or cohabitating couple has established friendships rather than family support. In addition, married couples sometimes adopt their spouse’s friends and often encourage friendships with others. However, interestingly enough Kiecolt-Glaser and Newton show that, “women’s support networks often include close friends and relatives as confidantes whereas men typically name their wives as their main source of support and the only person in whom they confide personal problems or difficulties”. Consequently, men are happier married due to the support and confidence they have from the close relationship with their wife. Women, on the other hand, continue to rely on outside sources such as friends and family as a support system.

Relating social support between married couples and cohabitating couples, “social support experienced by cohabiters versus marrieds show that cohabiters report less support” from their partner, (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2004). Furthermore, “wives are five times less likely than single or divorced women to be victims of crime”, (Waite & Gallagher, 2010). Waite and Gallagher suggest that this is due to the married couple’s habit for looking out for their spouse’s well-being and concern. Married couples are more likely to provide advice, discourage their spouse from participating in dangerous situations, and warn each other about risks. Consequently, being married and having a family will discourage risky behaviors that may cause harm or danger. However, cohabitating couples are willing to take risks and act impulsively. They do not seek approval from their mate about personal and recreational activities that may cause harm. Married couples have better communication with one another discussing factors and behaviors that encourage safety.

The research clearly indicated that married couples are at a greater advantage than cohabitating couples when comparing economic stability, social support, and health. Although cohabitating couples do not have a rewarding and fulfilling relationship observed in married couples, cohabitating couples are happier and less depressed than unmarried and single individuals. “Cohabiters tend to report lower levels of depression and higher levels of happiness than singles”, (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2004). Cohabiters are happier and have more self-fulfilling lives than the single individual, however, “the higher levels of depression among cohabiters versus marrieds reflect the greater instability characterizing cohabiting relationships”, (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2004). Happily married and unhappily married couples greatly influence test results when compared to the happiness of singles. The results indicated that, “troubled marriages are reliably associated with increased distress, and unmarried people are happier, on the average than unhappily married people”, (Kiecolt-Glaser & Newton, 2001).

Conducting research on the happiness and fulfilling lives of married couples iterate the sanctity and importance of marriage. One would conclude that cohabitating couples would have a fulfilling and rewarding life, however the research indicated otherwise. “Marriage offers unique institutional, economic, and psychosocial benefits that cannot be obtained from other types of relationships (such as cohabitation)”, (Lin & Umberson, 2008). Cohabitating does not provide the legalities observed in marriage. In marriage, there is no separation of property, money, or social status. There is less stress associated with marriage as 40% of married couples have sex a minimum of two times a week compared to 20% of single men and women, (Waite & Gallagher, 2010). Marriage allows couples to have genuine concern for one another and there is little to no fear of rejection that can be observed. With marriage on the decline, divorce on the rise, and cohabitating becoming increasingly popular, the fundamentals of marriage is being lost amongst the numbers and statistics. Waite and Gallagher demonstrated that “86% of married people who rated their marriages as unhappy and stayed together, rated the marriage as having improved 5 years later”. The evidence is proof in its self, that married couples are happier and lead fulfilling and successful lives versus cohabitating couples and singles. With this evidence, singles and cohabitating couples might want to reconsider their life choice and decide instead to take an oath and commit themselves to a lasting and rewarding relationship.


Brown, S., Bulanda, J., & Lee, G. (2004). The significance of nonmarital cohabitation: Marital status and mental health benefits among middle aged and older adults. Center for Family and Demographic Research, Retrieved from

Kiecolf-Glaser, J., & Newton, T. (2001). Marriage and health: His and hers. Psychological  Bulletin, 126(4), 472-503.

Lin, H., & Umberson, D. (2008). The times they are a changin’: marital status and health   differentials from 1972-2003. Journal of Health Social Behavior, 49(3), 239-253.

Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. (2010). The case for marriage: why married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially. New York, NY: Broadway Books. Retrieved from Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially.pdf

Williams, K. (2003). Has the future of marriage arrived? a contemporary examination of gender, marriage, and psychological well being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 44(4).

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