The story of 'Oh': the aesthetics and rhetoric of a common vowel sound

Dominic Symonds

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article investigates the use of the ‘word’ ‘Oh’ in a variety of different performance idioms. Despite its lack of ‘meaning’, the sound is used in both conversation and poetic discourse, and I discuss how it operates communicatively and expressively through contextual resonances, aesthetic manipulation and rhetorical signification. The article first considers the aesthetically modernist work of Cathy Berberian in Bussotti’s La Passion Selon Sade: then it considers the rhetorically inflected use of ‘Oh’ to construct social resonance in popular song;finally, it discusses two important uses of the sound ‘Oh’ which bookend the Broadway musical Oklahoma!, serving to consolidate the allegorical and musicodramatic narrative of the show.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)245-259
    Number of pages15
    JournalStudies in Musical Theatre
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    Dive into the research topics of 'The story of 'Oh': the aesthetics and rhetoric of a common vowel sound'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this