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GCSE Analysis of "Something's Coming" by Leonard Bernstein

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I'm currently a full-time student living and studying in London. For years I've written about the environment, science, and psychology.

"Something's Coming" General Points

  • Composed by Leonard Bernstein
  • A song from the musical West Side Story, which is a musical based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
  • First performed on Broadway in 1957.
  • Sung by solo tenor voice, "Tony."


  • Solo tenor voice.
  • Accompanied by a chamber orchestra consisting of woodwind, brass, percussion and strings.
  • Quiet dynamics, soft timbres, the use of mutes, pizzicato and a clear homophonic texture are used to make sure that instruments don't overpower the voice.
  • The music illustrates the words, for instance when he sings 'the air is humming'.
  • Harmonies and tremolo are used in the strings.
  • The instruments often imitate each other, usually at different octaves.
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein

Melody and Structure

The piece is almost entirely syllabic and based on the following 3 main themes:

  1. A quiet, syncopated opening theme.
  2. A loud, strident theme in the metre 2/4 that starts at bar 21.
  3. A lyrical, slow-moving theme that starts at bar 73.

The themes are repeated a number of times but are varied each time by Bernstein.

Bernstein changes things such as the metre or words each time a theme is heard.

Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • Metre changes between 2/4 and 3/4.
  • Changes of metre, a fast tempo and the use of a lot of syncopation maintains a feeling of excitement and anticipation.
  • Use of cross-rhythms throughout (for example in the intro).
  • Accompaniment is made up of an off-beat bassline, which constantly pushes forward a 'push rhythm', and offbeat chords.

Harmony and Tonality

  • Written in D Major although there are 2 contrasting sections in C Major (heard in bars 32-72 and 106-127)
  • Use of tritone which is an interval of 3 whole tones, e.g. C-F#.
  • Last note of the entire piece is a flattened 7th which remains unsolved and creates a feeling of incompletion.
  • The harmony is jazz-influenced.


Nathan on October 17, 2018:

What is the song about

callum on January 23, 2017:

helped too much thx

Joe on October 18, 2016:

Yeah, that may be Oli. But it will still help. And in some cases people may not have access to a revision guide so this could be a lifesaver.

Oli on September 25, 2016:

It's not too difficult to write articles like this if all you'really doing is rewording what it says in the revision guide

Kyla on June 05, 2016:

I take my GCSE music in a week and these pages are really helpful. Thank you for making them

Nelson on December 13, 2015:

You are an absolute legend, thank you very much. It's been 3 years and you're still saving people.

Jake on June 07, 2015:

You just saved my skin

Alex on March 18, 2015:

Very useful source of information, however for the exam we need 2 points for texture so another point could have been added for texture

Anna on January 14, 2015:

Thank Christ for you

will fielding on October 06, 2014:

absolutely love this website, has helped me so much thank you!

Derry on April 16, 2014:

Sweet analyis!

anon on February 09, 2014:

thank you

bless you

alex on January 27, 2014:

life saver, i would be completely lost without these pages, thx soooo much

joseph on November 01, 2012:

you are pretty

Emily (author) on May 13, 2012:

Haha, you're welcome.

Emily (author) on May 12, 2012:

No problem!

Good luck!

Olly on May 12, 2012:

Thank you for doing this! I'm panicking and writing out section B answers for everything as we speak and these pages are really useful for including things I'd almost completely forgotten.. Thanks again :)

Emily (author) on May 12, 2012:

No problem! I'm glad that you found it useful. :) I'm taking mine on Monday too.

Good luck in the exam!

Lauren on May 12, 2012:

Thanks a lot for this analysis, I am taking my Music GCSE in two days and this is REALLY helpful.

Emily (author) on April 14, 2012:

I love West Side Story too, definitely my favourite musical! Thank you! :)

collegatariat on April 13, 2012:

How interesting! I love West Side Story, and you did a great job of musical analysis that was enjoyable to read. Thanks for sharing!