Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera

"Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera
Album: Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Phantom brings Christine down into the dark depths of the Paris opera house, coaxing her in with his beautiful tone and his plead for her to help him make his music come alive.

This piece starts in Db major without introduction, drawing the listener in quickly by a soft dynamic level, violas matching the singer on the melody, with bass never leaving our tonic chord. The first stroph slowly builds the main progression, moving along a tonic embellishment I chord, then IV-I-IV-I-Iv-bVII-IV-I64-V7. This progression is repeated in the second stroph, gradually building up dynamics until a sudden key change to B major, building a I-IV-V and a shift back to Db major as we build even further to to a high Ab sung in light flasetto, lending an air of sweetness and catharsis to this constant building we've been doing through the first 2 strophs. The third stroph begins just like the first two, though stronger and more pronounced. Instead of repeating the material as we had the first time, be move directly into the contrasting section, travelling through B major once again and building up to the high Ab once again, this time with full force-lending an air of majesty to the entire piece, as one can almost see the majesty that the Phantom is creating out of darkness. One final stroph and a tag end the piece very somberly, as though all this excitement the Phantom has created leaves a vacuum in its wake. An intersting ending, instead of a simple, cadential V-I, we get an ambiguous IV-ii-I-VII before our final I ending.

From an emotional standpoint this is one of my favorite pieces for one of my favorite musicals. Very much like starting a diesel engine, it begins slowly, slowly building momentum, backing of a little, building again before coming out to a roaring climax. The strings, harp and soft horns give it the somber air necessary of a song of such sweetness, but a full section of horns comes in for the climax, adding a majestic sound to what in truth a powerhouse number. The vocal line contains such a wide range in both pitch and dynamic contrast that it can't help but captivate the listener.

1 comment:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Make sure you are writing complete sentences. The diesel engine is a good use of simile. Spelling: "strophe," not "stroph." In this case, strophe is not the best term since the music does vary.