About "The Phantom of the Opera" Music

By Cathryn Whitehead ; Updated September 15, 2017

"The Phantom of the Opera" could not be the successful entertainment event it is without the haunting, unforgettable music. It evokes powerful emotions and highlights the vocal abilities of the performers. From the opening overture with the dramatic organ music that recurs throughout the show, to the close, the music of "The Phantom of the Opera" showcases the skills of the composer.

Identification

Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the music for "The Phantom of the Opera." Inspired by a musical version by Ken Hill of the story, Webber asked Jim Steinman to write lyrics for the music, but he was busy working on a Bonnie Tyler album. Andrew Jay Lerner was approached next, but he died near the beginning of the project. Richard Stilgoe was hired, but Webber thought his lyrics weren't romantic enough. Charles Hart rewrote the lyrics for the final version, but some of Richard Stilgoe's lyrics were still included when the show opened in 1986. Both men wrote lyrics for some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's other musicals.

Features

Songs in the first act of The Phantom of the Opera include, "Overture" that introduces the Daaaa, da da da da da organ music that recurs throughout the musical, "Think of Me" which highlights Christine's voice, "The Phantom of the Opera" duet that reveals the wide range of notes Christine's voice can reach and "The Music of the Night," which is the most well-known song from the musical and emphasizes the strength of the Phantom's voice. Melodies from each song are heard in later songs from the musical, helping to make the songs memorable.

Misconceptions

Musical numbers in Act Two include "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," "The Point of No Return" and "Down Once More. . ./Track Down This Murderer." Because musical numbers are so strenuous, voiceovers for the Phantom's offstage role and sometimes the note at the end of the song Phantom of the Opera are prerecorded. If the show takes place in a small area that can't fit the entire orchestra, recordings are used for some parts.

Size

There's a large orchestra used to provide the show's music, with 18 instruments including string, brass and woodwind instruments. There are percussion instruments, an organ, synthesizers, electric guitars and an electric bass. Reed instruments include a flute or piccolo, a clarinet, an oboe, a bass clarinet and a bassoon. Among the brass instruments are three horns, two trumpets and a trombone. String instruments used are violins, violas, cellos, a harp and a double bass. Additional instruments are percussion instruments and two keyboards.

Considerations

Pink Floyd fans might recognize musical themes from "the Phantom of the Opera" that are similar to those in the 1971 song "Echoes." Both songs are done in a 12/8 time signature with the same notes and structure. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd believes the band could have successfully sued Andrew Lloyd Webber for plagiarism, but said in a November 1992 "Q" Magazine interview that "life's too long to bother with suing."

About the Author

Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Poetry.com. Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.