Musical Theater Songs (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by
Musical Theater Songs [Brooklyn, NY]: Musical Theater Songs, 2013–. http://www.musicaltheatersongs.com (Accessed 4 January 2017). [Requires a Web browser and an Internet connection. Institutional subscription pricing is based on full time enrollment and the total number of full time music and theater faculty and students. Individual subscriptions are $29 per month or $79 per year.]

Introduction

Musical Theater Songs currently indexes 11,000 songs from 150 years of the musical theater repertoire and continues to grow. In addition to all of the well-known standards, it includes rare finds from shows that had limited runs or that closed out of town. The purpose of Musical Theater Songs is to help performers, students, and teachers find songs, discover new repertoire, and locate sheet music and recordings.

Steven Gross, the founder and CEO of Musical Theater Songs, created the index to streamline the process of finding repertoire. This process once required searching multiple catalogs and multiple scores, which cut into the valuable time that could be spent actually preparing for auditions. Gross began cataloging theater scores for his own use, and this ultimately led to the creation of Musical Theater Songs in 2013. According to Gross’s biography on the Musical Theater Songs site, the founder has over twenty years of experience working on Broadway and the West End as a music director, conductor, pianist, sub, and vacation conductor. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from Yale University and has held faculty positions in musical theater at Baldwin Wallace University and Coastal Carolina University (http://musicaltheatersongs.com/about, accessed 27 January 2017).

Searching

In order to help users find the songs that are best suited for their needs, Musical Theater Songs allows for the selection of up to 20-plus search parameters. Despite this large number, the search interface is intuitive and easy to use.

Basic search criteria include character’s age, voice type, tempo, and tone (comedic and/or dramatic). More precise searches can be conducted by plugging in additional historical and/or musical criteria. These additional options include searching by composer, lyricist, song title, show title, decade or year (including a range), time signature, the original key, and the level of difficulty for the accompanist. Users can select a voice range on a pop-up piano keyboard, and even have the option to select the exact highest and/or lowest note that they would like to appear in the song. There are over one hundred descriptive tags that users can select as well, including various styles, accents, and themes. Finally, users also have the option to limit their searches to rarities that are seldom performed.

While there is no browse function, users only need to select one search condition. Simply inputting the user’s voice type will still yield a very large number of results that can then be browsed or sorted by title, show, composer, age range, voice type, tempo, or tone (comedic or dramatic). As of this writing, there are 1,800 songs for the soprano voice; 3,600 songs for the mezzo/belt/alto voice; 1,700 songs for the tenor voice; and 3,800 songs for the baritone/bass voice.

Results

To learn more about a song, users can click on the title in the results page to go to a song details page. Each song details page includes basic information about the song, including the show, composer, lyricist, year written, character’s age, voice type, tempo, tone (comedic or dramatic), original key, voice range, time signature, page number(s) in the piano/vocal score, difficulty for the accompanist, and descriptive tags. The show, composer, and lyricist areas also include links to the relevant Wikipedia pages.

There is an area for miscellaneous comments, which includes at the very least a sentence or two about the topic and context of the song. It may also include an alternative source for the sheet music (the comments for “Defying Gravity” include a statement that it can also be found in the Hal Leonard Anthology for mezzo/belt volume 5) or advice for auditions (for example, the comments for “Let It Go” warn [End Page 764] the user: “Will be heard...