19 thoughts on “Blog entries on Pisani and Taylor, due Feb. 27

  1. Pingback: English 49013: Melodrama, Spring 2019 – Renata Kobetts Miller, Ph.D.

  2. Oliver

    In The Bells by Leopold Lewis, we find a different sort of melodrama than the other plays we’ve covered thus far. The Forest of Bondy, The Rent Day and The Octoroon all presented a relatively large cast of cardboard characters, implausible and over-the-top plot devices and multiple subplots. Lewis’ play stands in stark contrast to these other works in a few significant ways.
    In his essay “Melodramatic Acting”, George Taylor references Peter Brooks’ assertion that melodrama “‘constantly reminds us of the psychoanalytic concept of “acting out”: the use of the body itself, its actions, gestures … to represent meanings that … are somehow under the bar of repression’” (Taylor 112). Such “meanings” (and the melodramas themselves) often reflect “sociopolitical issues like class conflict, imperialism, and gender identity” (112). This is certainly true in Bondy, Rent Day and Octoroon. In The Bells, however, the “acting out” is embodied within one man, the protagonist and the “meanings,” issues and stakes are psychological and emotional in nature. In other words, The Bells is a story of being “under the bar of repression” of one’s own conscience and past.
    “In a melodrama like The Bells, the audience needed to recognize the inner feelings of the character” (114). Despite the high emotional stakes in the other melodramas we’ve covered, there’s been no emphasis or real need to understand any of those characters’ inner feelings. The characters were mostly static “types”; each familiar to 19th century audiences and serving different dramatic functions. The conflict of Lewis’ play is strictly internal. This places a great deal of importance on the lead actor to tell the story by his movements and expressions; “Rhythm and motion could convey transitory moods and thoughts flitting through the mind, betraying themselves in furtive glance, trembling hand, or awkward stiffness.” Just as with the cues of music and the bells themselves, “[t]hese were all techniques that could signal to the audience whilst being ignored by the others on the stage” (121). For audiences, these cues help to both blur and to navigate between the boundaries of past and present, and between reality and inside Mathias’ mind.


  3. Xena Leycea Bruno

    According to Taylor, melodrama has archetypal characters such as villains, victims, and heroes. The audience is aware of the character’s identity because the actors represent villainy and virtue in stereotypical and exaggerated ways. Although character types were obvious in previous readings, I think that The Bells strays away from such overt depictions. The Bells reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart because the narrator got away with his crime however, his guilt manifests into a physical torment. The same occurs with Mathias. The audience isn’t aware he is the villainous character until he hears the bells and no one else hears them. At first, I thought he was going mad but then there’s the scene about the murder and it all became clear. In other readings, we were privy to the intentions of the villain from the beginning because they were isolated from the other characters or antagonistic towards them. They also professed their devious plans in asides to the audience. Mathias, on the other hand, was well liked by everyone. Even when the order was “restored” with his death, the other characters weren’t aware of his treacherous ways. Regardless, the melodramatic acting succeeded in this play because Mathias died of guilt. The fellow cast doesn’t know why Mathias died but the audience does and that’s all that matters.


  4. Argenis Santana

    In Michael V. Pisani’s Melodramatic Music, the article provides examples of how music goes together with the events of the play. In the section titled Music and Staging, Pisani talks about the technique that both the actors and musicians use to not make the music seem out of place. Pisani states “speaking through the music, a technique which-as any actor or orchestra leader who has performed musical theatre knows requires clear projection and delicate shading in dynamics” (Williams 99). He also mentions the technique that was more commonly used in the nineteenth century called through the dialogue. According to Pisani this technique required the actor to “find and situate his or her voice within the musical sounds, and that the music might be arranged or orchestrated in such a way to allow space for the range or colours of the actor’s voice to predominate” (Williams 99).
    The section titled Music and Character uses examples of plays to show how the music is used with the certain characters of the plays. The section mentions how in one plays the villain’s music is used to heighten the emotion involving the villain’s actions being discovered. In Leopold Lewis’s play The Bells I noticed music was mentioned when Annette was introduced and whenever Mathias would mention that he heard bells ringing. I think the music that would be playing whenever Mathias would mention hearing bells would cause a form of suspense to the audience until the end of the play.


  5. While melodramas are known for their transparent characterization, Leopold Lewis’s play ‘The Bells’ offers a new perspective on what melodramatic acting entails. As stated in Taylor’s study of melodramatic acting, the genre was once “disparaged as a self-indulgent spectacle with shallow characterization and clichéd situations”. ‘The Bells’ offers a unique take on the villain as it navigates the boundary between villain and virtue. Actors knew how to portray stock characters in these stock gestures of emotions, or the “iconography of emotion” as Taylor states, but the true artistry occurred through the understated motions that still clearly emoted to the audience.

    The reader is led to believe that the Burgomaster’s family is untainted and completely virtuous, with no clear villain in sight. This is what makes the creeping conflict of Mathias’s past so riveting. The viewer is able to witness Mathias’s descent into madness and understand what exactly had led to their family’s success without the other characters catching on. The sound of the bells is the only signifier of oncoming terror and clearly shows the one-sided drama that the audience can observe but other characters are not yet privy to. Additionally, the comparisons between this snow storm and the Polish Jew Winter that they kept alluding to foreshadowed the direction that the plot was going.

    Justice is dealt in this play in an especially interesting measure, as Mathias’s crime is never made known to the other characters. His death could be seen as retribution, however, he still gets to maintain his reputation within the community. Mathias says early on, “What a power it is to know how to guide your destiny in life. You must hold good cards in your hands,” (page 23) and in a way he is a very lucky man. His crimes are never truly discovered and, although he dies from the stress it was causing him, his family never sustains any punishment for what happened.

    Lewis’s use of dramatic irony completely surpassed the genre as they knew it and possibly had a hand in pushing actors to expand their own tactics in acting. How could they truly portray the horror of what was happening to Mathias before the backdrop of a wedding?


  6. Randy Morales

    It is evident that music is a prime instrument that is being used in the play The Bells. Each character is introduced to a certain song or music. To the audience of the this play, the characters who are introduced with a musical note were most likely thought of as important or should keep in mind of them. It is like what Pisan stated in page 45 of The English Companion to Melodrama “ The musical accompaniments, like the characters and situations onstage, were crafted to appeal to those audiences”. The music in these melodramatic plays play such a vital role to grasp the attention of the audience and to keep them aware of the situation that is occurring on stage. When Walter is telling Christian about the jew that died in the last snow storm, the music ceases when Walter is finished telling the story. The music ceasing indicates that the very suspenseful and important story that the audience was listening to is now over. Taylor also mentioned “In a melodrama like The Bells, the audience needed to recognize the inner feelings of the character” (114). I can say that while reading the play, I can visualize the play being acted out and having the music just give off a tiny part of how the character really is. The music gives a little bit more personality to the specific character.


  7. Fariha Wadud

    I think George Taylor’s essay, “Melodramatic Acting,” is interesting because it summarizes the essence of melodrama as a genre. In all of the plays we have read so far, we have encountered some very interesting plots that are all extremely imaginative but ultimately unrealistic. Taylor reveals in his essay that the purpose of melodrama is not to maintain “intellectual coherence,” but to convey a story through the emotions of the characters (112). Melodrama is not a way to stimulate the mind, but is a chance to experience a story told through exaggerated acting and the emotions of the characters. This is seen in William Wells Brown’s play, The Escape; or A Leap from Freedom. Similar to the other plays we have read so far, it ends on a rushed and unrealistic note when Mr. White, a seemingly minor character, singlehandedly takes on and defeats multiple villainous characters. All of the tension that has built up throughout the play falls when Mr. White knocks down Dr. Gaines, Scragg, and the officers as the ferryman, Glen, Melinda, and Cato all get in the boat just in time to escape to Canada. While the play ends on a happy note, one cannot help but notice the implausibility of the events of the play. For example, how is it possible that Glen and Melinda bump into each other in the forest right after they both somehow escape their imprisonment? What are the chances that Cato aimlessly walks into a free state and immediately reunites with Glen and Melinda? And finally, how does a character as random as Mr. White become the hero of the play? Mr. White is introduced near the end of the play, but he ends up playing a crucial role in Cato, Glen, and Melinda’s escape. As Taylor emphasizes, however, logical coherence is not the purpose of melodrama; it is the emotion that the characters generate that is what is important. Taylor’s point is seen multiple times throughout the play. For example, despite the fact that the reader understands just how illogical the entire plot is, he or she cannot help but root for Glen and Melinda’s reunification in the forest or for them to get on the boat before Dr. Gaines reaches them. This is because even though the plot may not be realistic, the characters’ emotions of love, anger and despair are universal, despite how exaggerated they might seem.


    1. Cher

      The nineteenth century Melodrama set the tone for musical practice and frantic acting. In Micheal V. Pisani piece, “Melodrama Music” he states many actors took on leads that were appealing to them but also shares his views on music directors. “The strategic effectiveness of Melodramatic Music depended greatly on the taste, skill, and dramatic sensitives of the music director, but the ambitious actors and orchestra leaders often wanted to make the form more frantically compelling, using affective music to greater or lesser degree” In Leopold Lewis , “The Bells” Music was played through as a form of practice to get the audience engaged and intrigued. The Character Mathias (The Burgomaster) played by Henry Irving shows his intensity through out the entire play. Mathias is living with his feelings of sorrow because he is suffering from a pervious incident that will not erase from his mind. “Mathias, as he remembers the approaching sleigh bells of the victim he murdered years before”. Overtime his guilt drives him crazy to the point where he goes insane and kills himself. According to George Taylor, “Melodramatic Acting” he believes Irving was an artist that was a head of his profession, And performed in plays to showcase the works of Music and Acting joining together in a melodrama piece.
      “ Rhythm and motion could convey transitory and motions could convey transitory moods and thoughts flirting through the mind, betraying themselves in fugitive glance, and awkward stiffness” At the end of, “The Bells” you see a signal from the audience when they see The Burgomaster kill himself, a sight of horror at the end of the play which was so dramatic you were drawn in. Overall in Williams book, both authors make great points on how Music and Acting was the center of the performance making the play more affective to the audience.


  8. In ‘Melodramatic Music’, Michael Pisani discusses how music was used in melodrama to heighten tense, emotional moments, portray character traits and relationships, and was generally an important and well-thought out part of the staging process. I found it surprising that while the music used in a melodrama was sometimes published, so many of the compositions for these plays were not, leaving it very difficult to know exactly what was played in each show. It’s an interesting to consider how there was a small interest in the music of melodrama as a separate entity that could be bought, yet music was also considered something that was put together to very specifically enhance the play, and not be a separate work in its own right. Pisani’s comment that “[c]ritics rarely commented on the melodramatic music anyway…” also reminded me of the subtle power melodramatic music seemed to be able to work, without being its own entity (98).
    In the section ‘Eight Types of Music Cues’, Pisani summarizes common types of music cues as “1) act or scene opener, 2) character entrance music, 3) character exit music, 4) accompaniment to a song or dance, 5) dialogue underscore, 6) action music 7) a combination of dialogue and action, and 8) scene-bridging music” (106). However, these types of cues often had intricate and linked reasons for being used, outside of just signifying movement on stage or in the plot. In the section ‘Music and Character’, Pisani also specifies that while there was, and still is, a preconception that melodramatic music was used to overtly identify stock character traits using ‘cheerful’ or ‘creepy music’, melodrama actually used music in much more thoughtful and ‘strategic’ ways (100). While music might be used to note a certain character entrance, Pisani notes that this often was used to add to the emotions surrounding the scene, using an example that states that “… accompanying Mouchard in both dialogue and stage business, it is brought in not to mark the character for the audience- who by now knows exactly who he is and what he’s up to-but to heighten the suspense surrounding this secretive act” (101).
    What struck me most about the music cues in The Bells by Leopold Lewis was the lack of music in the dream court scene. About the absence of music in a tense scene, Pisani says, “Music’s absence during these psychologically charged scenes meant that when it finally did enter, it was much more powerful” (109). After reading the first two acts that had a considerable amount of music cues, it definitely was jarring to enter a dream scene so absent of melodramatic music, especially considering how courtroom scenes are such quintessential melodrama scenes. Other than the Bells chiming, there is one music cue when the mesmerist is summoned and a quick music piece as Mathias is put to sleep. However, the whole reveal of the murder he has committed does not include any musical cues (other than the Bells). There’s no “tense tremolo” to emphasize that this is a climactic scene (107). The notable music comes right before the curtain falls, saying “Music, the melody played as the Second Act when promises given”. It feels like plot-wise, the culminating reveal should only be that Mathias killed Koveski, yet the inclusion of music after a tense scene that was palpably absence of it reveals that the last shocking plot point of this play is actually Mathias’s death. This is definitely a powerful way to hit home an ending, and it didn’t feel, to me, like just a convention of having to have music as the curtain falls once I read the Pisani piece alongside The Bells.


  9. Alexandra Turner

    Michael Pisani’s article “Melodramatic Music” is intriguing in that it demonstrates how music within melodramatic plays is very different from how music is utilized today within entertainment. Today, we usually associate the use of music within plays, films and shows s as usually being used to introduce a character or to set the tone for a scene. Music is usually always playing in the background functioning to maintain the mood of the scenes it is utilized in. For example, the repetitive background music of films and shows or the character themes that become synonymous the character’s presence in the scene. However, in the nineteenth century, music in melodramas was used in a much more strategic way, utilized not only just to introduce characters, but it was also to accentuate the emotions of the characters to the audience. According to Pisani, in regard to the play The Old Oak Tree, “The edition specifies a total of twenty music cues, some with a tempo or dynamic. But there is no music for Smith’s first appearances as Mouchard, nor does the music indicated to accompany his next entrance with Griffon the jailor have anything to do with villainy, but rather with a prisoner’s distress over a carrier pigeon that Mouchard has intercepted and shot” (Pisani,101). According to Pisani, the music is used to clearly demonstrate to the audience the importance of the Mouchard’s feelings, i.e. his distress, and to signify to audience how his feelings might affect the plot. Music in a sense acts as a plot device, guiding the audience’s attention to certain character’s reactions to plot development. The play The Bells by Leopold Lewis, utilizes a similar method of using music to emphasize the feelings of the characters as well as to signify how certain plot points through strategic musical stops and starts. For example, during Act 1, immediately after Walter tells the story of the Jew, music begins to play. Also, when Mathias begins to the hear the sounds of the sleigh bells and begins to panic, the script writes “MATHIAS (alone–comes forward and listens with terror. Music with frequent chords). Bells! Bells!” Music is therefore used in a sense similarly to how acting is used within melodramas, as a strategic exaggerate form of expression by the play in order to convey to the audience the intricacies of the plot as well as the character’s emotions.


  10. Tanisah Delvaille

    According to Pisani, rather than having melodramatic music placed haphazardly, authors and producers took their time to integrate the music as part of the dramatic structure.

    When we think of melodramatic music we think of the music that gets played when a character walks on stage or at a moment of suspense, but music isn’t used just for these scenes, but can be associated with the movement of the actors, curtain drops, and scenery. The use of music is much to do with movement as it is with the mood of a certain scene.

    If the author and producer used to much affective music then it could lull the audience into complacency making them not happy with the play, but if the music is used sparingly then it bring out the emotions and humanize the character that is on stage making the audience feel what the character is going through. This is why melodramatic music was carefully placed, timed, rehearsed, and executed when used in plays.

    There are many music cues that have to be understood when adding music to plays such as act or scene opener, character entrance music, character exit music, accompaniment to a song or dance, dialogue underscore, action music, combination of dialogue and action, and scene-bridging music. This is why it was important that music be placed correctly since the cues of each section needed to be taken into account.
    Some dramas didn’t require as much music cues as others, but when it came to action dramas they required almost consistant music throughout the play.


  11. Rana A alsayegh

    According to Michael V. Pisani, Melodramatic Music describes a theatrical genre fused with music. In 18th century melodrama was classical in nature but by the 19th century English melodrama established itself as a musical afterpiece to follow the performance of legitimate drama.
    On stage and throughout the 19th century, music as well as dialogue and sound effects formed a part of the dramatic ethos, but the appropriate general mood music and the way it was placed on stage, varied from theatre to theatre. In addition, the best of the melodramatic authors and producers conceived and integrated music as part of the dramatic structure rather than placing it in a manner lacking any obvious principle of organization. Also, the strategic effectiveness of melodramatic music depended greatly on the taste, skill, and dramatic sensitivities of the music director, which of course could vary widely in theatres. It can be said, that music and throughout the 19th century was involved far more than it was usually noticed, and provided mood, characterization, and reinforcing dramatic structure.
    “The bells” by Leopold Lewis is very exciting and is also about the destructive power of a bad conscience full with music and songs. Music in this play is of different types or as Pisani states, is of different cues (106); we have music “upon rising of curtain” (1/26), character entrance music “Music. Enter Annette” (3/26),dialogue underscore or music for actors to speak through, found on page (5/26) when Annette and Christian were talking, we also see character exit music “Christian. In a few minutes. (Music to take him off. Exit) (7/26), action music is seen when they sing the song of the betrothal (17/26). We can say that music in this play is used to draw the attention of the audience of what is happening on the stage, it is associated with movement as much as mood: movement of actors and movement of curtains (106). Music as Pisani says, “Is used to engage the audience emotionally” (110) and serves as an important structural maker (100), and this is what Leopold Lewis has done in his play and of course not to forget the sound of the bells (9/26) which played an important role and created a sense of excitement for the audience, and a destructive power of bad conscience for Mathias.


  12. Imani Mendoza

    The effect of melodrama does not only come from the visual experience, but from the auditory one as well. Its exact place in melodrama is difficult to track, as Michael Pisani notes that the music that accompanied earlier melodrama was not recorded as extensively as the play’s scripts. Still, its general function could be surmised: “the best melodramatic music, so it would seem, worked quietly but essentially in the background, providing mood, characterization, and reinforcing dramatic structure” (162). In this way, music functioned at a subtle level of influence—not quite on the level of dialogue, but rather in support of it. Though complete pieces were not preserved, there are documents that provide some insight into the musical accompaniment: “in the absence of surviving music….the intermediary between the prompter and music director was a document called the ‘music plot’. It specified the text or visual cue for music to begin, as well as some hint as to the character and function of the music (and sometimes whether the music of an earlier cue should be repeated” (163). Then, using the music cues of Lights o’ London, Pisani found that there were approximately eight different types, each “associated with movement as much as mood: movement of actors and movement of curtains, drops, and scenery” (168). The Bells demonstrates many of the various music cues Pisani names. When Christian first enters in Act I, it is indicated music is to be played “forte” to establish his presence (6), demonstrating the second type of musical cue. As the story of “the Polish Jew” is told (8), music is to be played then as well, this time to accentuate the high points of the story—this being the fifth type of cue. Moreover, the bells that haunt Mathias—a major element of the play—are played at various moments throughout the play, seemingly as an accompaniment of both dialogue and action, the seventh type of cue. These cues illustrate the ideas posed by Pisani: “that music as well as dialogue and sound effects formed a part of the dramatic ethos” (Pisani, 156).


  13. Danielle Butler

    Danielle Butler

    “Melodramatic Acting by George Taylor discusses how British melodrama characterization was considered “shallow”(Taylor) until the production of the Shaughram. Taylor discusses how actors would sometimes portray a basic know stereotype instead representing a character as and unique individual. Different body types and other personal characteristics and basic features were used to portray different character types rather than the acting itself. Craig’s description of Mathias’s emotions was considered unusual In “The Bells”. He didn’t follow the basic description of a villain through appearance. Instead his character used his display of emotions through the play that allowed you to not only see but also feel what he was going though. Instead of revealing the truth about Mathias actions through a simple confession he instead showed his guilt through his actions. Mathias character was imprisoned by his own mind. No one knew what he had done to the Jew. It was his own conscience that tormented him throughout the play causing him to drink daily to numb himself. The dreams he had regularly and the sounds of the bells ringing in his ear due to what he had done is what caused his death. The Bells is a great example of how emotions was used to portray a character instead of appearance.


  14. Kelsie McGrath
    According to Michael Pisani, “melodrama” in the 19th century became a term for musical-pantomimic action drama. The first melodramas were “classical in nature, [and] semi staged drama for actors. Pisani states that music in melodrama are used in specific and strategic ways. Its purpose is to heighten emotions, portray actions and even introduce characters. In the play “The Bells” by Leopold Lewis, there is a stage direction for music to play when Annette first appeared. The music in this play is also used to fill “space” and can be heard when the actors are on stage but not talking, usually performing some type of action. An example of this is on page 6, when Hans and Walter are drinking. Hans takes a while to drink and does some non verbal expressions.
    In his work, Pisani makes the point that during the 19th century that authors not only thought of melodramas visually ( in regard to character action and positions) but “aurally” (in regard to dialogue, sound affects, and dramatic echos) (Pisani 96). In his logic music in melodrama works alongside action, position and even dialogue to move and develop the plot. It not only draws on emotion and ambiance, it also draws attention to specific characters or events. “The Bells” uses the aspect of drawing attention to characters by playing entrance music when each character is introduced. The sound of the bells (also an aspect of music portrayed in the play) are used as an element to accommodate the plot of the play. The bells haunt Mathias and having the sound heard by the audience draws on the emotions present and creates a dramatic ethos.


  15. Anushua Arif

    Michael Pisani breaks down sort of the “behind the scenes” of melodrama for us in his chapter on Melodramatic Music. He illustrates how vital the presence of music is in the world of melodrama in order to not just create dramatic effects within the play, but even in regards to the basis and existence of the play, music is crucial.
    He dwells on his point by saying, “Since melodrama itself is often viewed as an inferior theatrical form, we can see that there were indeed qualitative differences between melodramas, not just in the dialogue and situations, but in the way music received just as much care as staging, sets, costumes, and lighting.” (p 119) He further goes on to explain the purpose of music being used to accentuate the current actions of the characters in the play, and to exaggerate certain emotions to get a better reaction out of the audience.
    After reading Pisani’s demonstration on music in melodrama, it was definitely easy to look out for the music in “The Bells”, and the dramatic effect of it. The music used for the introduction to each of the characters, made them come to life a lot faster. But also, as the scenes reach their climaxes, the music highlights the emotions i.e the melancholy felt by the characters, or even something as simple as the opening scene with Hans where he takes a sip of the wine and the music comes in to show the relaxation he feels, shows the utilization of music in the play itself and how it has made the play speak to the audience.


  16. Does the playwright write for his/herself or with the audience in mind? For me that is the difference between melodramatic theatre and most modern theatre.

    « … the psychoanalytic concept of “acting out”: the use of the body itself, its actions, gestures … to represent meanings that … are somehow under the bar of repression »

    Melodrama relied heavily on gesticulations and other physicality’s, as well as exposition so as to tell the audience what to think. By contrast today, it sometimes seems as though playwrights have a field day adding tricks and riddles into plays in order to further complicate plots for the sake of it or force their audience to think and form their own opinions.
    Another difference is that stories no longer need to be linear. The need or desire to make sure the audience knew exactly what the playwright wanted to say made made melodramatic playwrights stray from experimental plot sequences.
    I’m not sure whether playwrights write for themselves or for their audience ? or who else they may have in mind when they write. Whatever the answer might be to that question, it is evident that the aim for melodramatic playwrights was to make the audience understand a singular message.

    Now, the audience can no longer be TOLD everything. We can say that it is partially due to the rise of the much needed political correctness and because there is now an understanding that stock characters lack the complexities that are inherent in human beings.

    Also, in the theatre communities today there are differing sentiments about the need for realism. Melodrama did not insists on being realistic, hence the larger-than-life gesticulations and exposition. Now, the english still hold on to that belief that the theatre is the theatre and not real life and that the acting should be treated as such. While the Americans believe through and through that good acting is realistic acting. Gone is the idea of the audience ‘suspending disbelief’ and in comes the idea that the acting should be subtle enough to allow the audience to draw conclusions of their own.

    This is where The Bells triumphs. Mathias has a inner-life and motivations that are not known to the audience as soon as he enters the stage, it is realistic. In real-life, one does not always SEE malice, but rather feels it. Or does not and is in turn made a victim. Villiany is insidious and I think that is what The Bells gets right. Down to the Mathias’ death brought on by guilt, the rest of the characters do not know that is death was brought on by the sense of guilt but the audience understands that. This is evidence that the audience is and has been smarter than we think and that playwrights do not always need to exagerrate. It is always evidence, that Lewis was ahead of his time.


  17. “Melodramatic Acting by George Taylor displayed more of a “stereotypical representation rather than individualized characterization.” Which included “villains, victims, and heroes) (Taylor, 113) George Taylor expressed how there was a lot of emotional acting within melodramatic acting. Actors during this time didn’t feel as if it was an issue to act emotionally. But it was meant to leave the viewers in “their feelings of show, horror and fear.”(Taylor, 118) I understood from this reading was that Melodrama acting gives the actress a chance to understand every aspect, more so emotional. This weeks play, “The Bells” truly showed the definition of melodramatic acting. Especially in the villain and victim aspect. Mathias would be considered the villain because he killed and stole his an innocent man’s gold for his family. The innocent man would be considered the victim because he was killed and robbed. I enjoyed George Taylor’s reading because it helped me to thoroughly understand the effectiveness of melodramatic acting.


  18. Sanam Sheikh

    Sanam Sheikh
    English 49013
    Blog Entry #4

    It is definitely not surprising to learn that Melodramatic music not only enhanced the Melodrama; moreover, the music was carefully placed in conjunction with the theme of the play. “Melos, as used by professional nineteenth- century practitioners of melodrama, though of course in essential ways still archetypal, was often far more strategic,” (Pisani, p. 100). So much planning goes into orchestrating a really good Melodrama including the instruments and sounds that were chosen as a character enters the scene, during the scene and after the scene. The sounds that are chosen to represent another element of what was occurring in the play made the scene more suspenseful, exciting, sad, happy, etc. It is interesting to know that there are eight types of music cues in melodrama and placement of these cues impacted the reaction of people watching the play.
    In the Melodrama, “The Bells,” music was placed strategically throughout the play. The descriptions of the sounds being played as scenes changed and characters are entering and exiting the scene, helped me visual and imagine what the music would have sounded like as well as giving me a mental image of the facial expressions of the characters. In the very beginning of the play, the narration describes what is occurring as well as mentioning music is being played. Throughout the play and towards the end of the play, an example of this description in the narration would when Mathias is being strangled with rope and calls out for someone to cut the rope. “The Bells heard off. Music, the melody played in the Second Act when promise given,” (The Bells, act III). The chapter on Melodramatic music helps to visualize the scenes and narration better when reading the plays we have read in class.


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