Sunday, February 06, 2005

"Children of Eden"

"Children of Eden" from the Broadway Show "Children of Eden"
Music by Stephen Schwartz

Act 1 of "Children of Eden" tells the story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. This amazing chorus number is the final song of the act. Eve comes out. She is now an old woman. Adam has died. She introduces her third son, Seth, who is married with Children. Father returns to Eve and tells her that Cain is still alive. Eve tries to ask more questions, but Father dissapears. Eve gathers the grandchildren together and tells them that this is her last harvest. In the song, "Children of Eden", Eve and the company dream of the day when they will return to their true home, Paradise.
All of the music that Stephen Schwartz composed for "Children of Eden" is gorgeous, but this song stands out the very most to me. It begins with only Eve singing. The tempo is a nice rubato, and the chords underneath the melody are simply block chords played on the piano that compliment the vocal part. Both Eve and the piano are at a nice mp dynamic. In the 10th measure, the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4 and the tempo picks up slightly. The piano begins playing arrpegiated chords rather than block chords, which makes Eve's message sound even more urgent and important.
Halfway into the piece, the key changes. With the key change comes a change in the density of the accompaniment. The arpeggiated chords stop, and full sounding chords with some dotted rhythms begin. The chords begin changing much more frequently.
My favorite part of the whole entire song is when the chorus comes in, and the accompaniment stops, creating a beautiful accapella section. The harmonies are stunning. The inner voice parts move around a lot, and the use of counterpoint is great. While the chorus holds the melody, Eve sings a descant above them. I find the beautiful combination of the voices to be very moving. The lyrics state: "Children of Eden, where is our garden? Where is the innocence we can't regain? Once eyes are opened, must those eyes harden? Lost in the wilderness must we remain? Children of Eden, try not to blame us, we were just human too error prone. Oh Children of Eden, you will reclaim us. You and your children to come. Someday you'll come home."
When the accompaniment begins again, it is not just piano, but the whole orchestra. The dynamic marking is forte and the sound is so full to the end, creating the perfect final moment for act 1.

1 comment:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Is "Father" the same as "God?" I'm not familiar with this musical, though I know Schwartz's other works well. Your description places an emphasis on the dynamic changes. Do you think they are one of the prime structural components of this song?