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Imaginative walking tours that retrace the map of Manhattan as it resonates with the music of Broadway


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Broadway Rhythm is a guide to Manhattan like nothing you've ever read. Author Dominic Symonds calls it a performance cartography, and argues that the city of New York maps its iconicity in the music of the Broadway songbook. A series of walking tours takes the reader through the landscape of Manhattan, clambering over rooftops, riding the subway, and flying over skyscrapers. Symonds argues that Broadway's songs can themselves be used as maps to better understand the city though identifiable patterns in the visual graphics of the score, the auditory experience of the music, and the embodied articulation of performance, recognizing in all of these patterns, corollaries inscribed in the terrain, geography, and architecture of the city.

Through musicological analyses of works by Gershwin, Bernstein, Copland, Sondheim and others, the author proposes that performance cartography is a versatile methodology for urban theory, and establishes a methodological approach that uses the idea of the map in three ways: as an impetus, a metaphor, and a tool for exploring the city.


Dominic Symonds is Professor of Drama at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom.


“A witty, whimsical exploration of how the physical place of Broadway has been represented in song.  The book brings place into an ongoing scholarly conversation about the ways in which Broadway musicals do important cultural work and adds layers of meaning to a form that is generally considered solely in terms of words and music.”
—Andrea Most, University of Toronto


“With an ear attuned to the rhythmic and harmonic structures of the musical, Symonds proposes inventive and sometimes audacious new interpretations of classic Broadway songs and songwriters. His examples explore how form and experience shape each other and provide affective maps of the city. . . . Broadway Rhythm offers a new way to read the American musical.”
—Shane Vogel, Indiana University