To consider words that are set to music and learn how the process works, I need to get an understanding of when it works and why.
Lionel Bart’s “Food, Glorious Food” from “Oliver!”
I chose this song because I love it, but also because I think it’s an incredibly successful setting of words to music. The melody for the verse is based upon repetitive, single notes that rise chromatically. When I listened to this I really got a sense of it emphasising the children’s monotonous lives, their hunger, their plight and boredom. The chorus moves to the dominant key based around arpeggiated sequences that move between chords V-I. Bart also uses accented passing notes to emphasise certain parts of words.
Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” from “Born to Dance”
This has a scalic melody with a rhythmic structure born solely from the rhythm of the words. Single syllable words are given short length notes, typically quavers and crotchets; this keeps the dialogue moving. Emphasising the main titular phrase, Porter lengthens note values to minims which are often tied together to add length. He varies the melody at bar 25 where he writes a more chromatic, syncopated line where the words state: “I said to myself this affair never will go so well”; such a statement is as punchy as it is emphatic.