Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Bui-Doi" from Miss Saigon

More happy musical goodness for you today.

Bui-Doi is sung right before the GIs get word to airlift out of Saigon. One of them recalls the camp for children that he saw on his pass through. The name of these children left for dead are the "bui-doi," orphans whose "only crime was being born." This song starts with a male chorus beginning with the refrain of this song. They sing a capella, slowly building up to a full forte as the parts split from tutti into four part harmony. Soon the piano starts in simply, methodically beating out a tonic chord and maintaining a marching tempo with simple block chords as the soloist sings a recitative-like first verse. A small ritardando on the half cadence before the refrain adds just a touch of anticipation before we return a tempo for the refrain. The refrain's chord progression of I-iii-IV-V-vi-IV-V6/V-V-I-V-I really draws in the listener, as it slowly steps up then deceptively moves away, before the secondary dominant once again grasps our attention to resolve, which it does nicely. The second verse is much like the first, with the exception of horns slowly entering from a distance. The refrain returns, with these distant horns accentuating the melody perfectly, the far-away hope of the children who would never see a normal life. After this verse a bridge builds us further, changing keys up a step as the chorus returns for the final refrain. An extension of the cadence occurs at the very end, as the soloist begins to echo the chorus and when the final note is hit, the chorus continues a small deceptive progression (I64-V-I) to bring us to the final ending.

As for the emotional impact of this piece, it's hard not to feel for "the dust of life," orphans of a war few understood. The soldier wants to forget, but can't, because of the faces of these poor children that he could do nothing to save. It's tragic, and the music has this raw power that remains with you long after you've stopped listening.

"Because we know, deep in our hearts, that they are all our children too."

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