The raised fourth in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    English:This article traces the functions and applications of the raised fourth-scale degree in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story against the background of the work’s precarious positioning between a Broadway musical and a modern opera. It attempts to demonstrate how the raised fourth operates in a variety of ways as a coherent tonal motive with distinctive tragic undertones. While it relates the main songs and musical sequences to one another, it also effects a poignant relationship between the lyrics, music and dramatic action. In this regard it represents a powerful instance of musical symbolism, its tragic quality being closely intertwined with the story’s disturbing theme of gangsterism.