Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Cold Water" written and performed by Damien Rice

The beginning of "Cold Water," which may be found on Damien Rice's "O" album, begins with a piano playing two lonely sounding notes. The two notes are a major third, followed by a major fourth, fifth, and sixth, each played three times. The piano repeats this phrase, the phrase it repeats throughout the whole song, with the addition of a guitar playing strummed chords that match the piano. Rice begins to sing the first verse with the melody going something like mi-mi-re-sol-ti-do-ti. You coudl say that the phrase ends resembling a half cadence, keeping in mind that Rice is Irish and his music has a very traditional Irish folk sound, this is quite possible. The end of the verse has a repeating word phrase, "Lord can you hear me now," which is sung three times. It does not necessarily sound like a chorus but more like an extension of the verse's melodic phrase. At this point, a female vocalist comes in to sing the second verse which has the same melody as the first. Next, instead of an instrumental break, a choir of mature male voices start in that resemble a group of monks or possibly an African American chorus. The female voice sings the melody of the song along with the men which creates a nice contrast to the low voices. The first verse is then repeated by Rice with the female voice singing a sort of improvised harmony. The song ends with violin and words or phrases from the two main voices. Finally, the choir comes back in for a swell of somewhat synthesized sound. It actually sounds as if their part from earlier in the piece is played backwards, giving the song a completely unique ending.
I enjoy how Damien Rice begins his songs with a very simple idea and then adds parts and odd choruses to give it a completely original sound. The song is even more amazing because the male and female voices blend perfectly as if they are telling each other a story or having a conversation. Another cool part about this song, along with other Rice songs, is how they start off with one part and slowly add parts very sneakily so that by the end the listener cannot remember when the percussion or the violins came in. The song gains sound constantly up to the climax, where all parts are playing their loudest. Then it ends quietly, giving the story a slow descent. Even if the song did not have words, the rest of the music would be able to tell the story on its own.

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