08.01.2008

“No Good Deed” is one of the last songs on the Wicked soundtrack. In the story, it takes place when Elphaba fears she has lost her love, Fiyero, and faces the realization that all of the good she has tried to do has only turned out badly.

In addition to having great lyrics that explore the “moral ambiguities” that are the main theme of the show, the very beginning of the song contains another nice detail. After two bars or so of instrumental introduction, Elphaba screams Fiyero’s name. But instead of being an unpitched scream, she actually sings a high note that is a minor second above the tonal center of the song. (A minor second is an interval basically the same as a minor ninth, only the two notes are right next to each other instead of an octave removed.) This creates the effect of a scream, as the note is very high and dissonant, but it is much more controlled and musical than an actual scream. A nice touch.

You can listen to the whole song, courtesy of iLike, here: click on the second “play” button on the left in the list (next to “No Good Deed by Stephen Schwartz”).

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    ryan fleming on 08.01.2008

    Very Interesting!!! You had written a post early on this forsaken harmony. You had mentioned if it could ever be used in a song and here it is. The way it is used is perfect. As you have previously mentioned, the minor ninth is one of (if not the most) dissonant sounding intervals in western music. The reason I believe this works so perfectly in these song is because of the immense desire that Elphaba has to be with Fiyero. There is a lot of tension because of their separation and Elphaba desires most to resolve the situation. So, naturally, the fitting interval in dire need of this resolution is the minor ninth. And the best way to accomplish this without destroying the musical integrity of the piece is to have the minor ninth played vocally (by Elphaba) in a scream-like fashion. This makes it very easy to distinct the pain and torment dwelling within her.

    Another comment on this song I have is the beginning chant that Elphaba sings. When I first heard this I thought it was very cool. It is very intriguing and a very fitting intro to this song.

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