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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Celebrate Musicals Week: Songs That Share Tunes

Les Mis. some of the songs are out of order, though. On my own comes after building the barricade in the Broadway musical.

It's common knowledge around the fandom that almost every Les Miserables song has 'match' - a song that shares the same tune.  Even if it's not an entire song, there's often at least bits of the same melody in more complicated, multiple-part songs like the Epilogue.  I thought it would be fun to list all the songs that have matches (along with their matches) and see what sort of things come up.  I'll just be going in order of how the songs are in the musical, and I'll stop when I start repeating myself :) Of course, I don't want to read too much into all of this, but it is interesting to see little connections between certain songs.  I have a feeling this post is going to be huge...
  • Look Down - This song is the iconic opening ensemble number to the musical, and besides the obvious connection to 'Paris-Look Down', the same tune is used almost every time Valjean and Javert meet.  The first time, of course, but also for the 'Confrontation', 'Robbery-Javert's Intervention', that bit with them at the barricades, and the sewers.  I'm sure this is no accident - the melody is perfect for all those scenes because it's pulsating and full of tension.
  • The Bishop - All the bishop's lines are sung to the same tune as 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables'.  Frankly, I see no connection between Marius and the bishop, and, like I said, I'm not prepared to do an in-depth study and find all the hidden meanings and special connections between the songs.  I will say that the melody itself is perfect for the bishop, as it's soft and gentle.  It's the same with 'Empty Chairs', although it gets more dramatic at the end (naturally).

    This part made me sob my eyeballs out.   "But my friend, you left so early, surely something slipped your mind? You forgot I gave these also, would you leave the best behind?"  THAT is how a Christ follower should act. <3
  • What Have I Done? - This is probably the most symbolic song when it comes to matching tunes.  WHID? is, of course, set to the same tune as 'Javert's Suicide' and it even shares some of the same lines, something that's quite unusual, even for matches.  The two lines the songs share are "I am reaching, but I fall" and "I'll escape now from this world, from the world of Jean Valjean".  Sometimes when I'm singing one or the other, I just switch back and forth from song to song quite effortlessly.  I think the biggest connection between the two songs is that both men are at the end of their figurative rope, having been shown a strange act of kindness (well, the acts themselves weren't strange, but it was strange to them), and they don't know what to do about it.  But while Valjean decides to turn his life around, Javert simply can't deal with the decision before him and drowns himself.  Big difference.
  • At The End Of The Day - I think that this tune is repeated in 'Fantine's Arrest', but I'm not sure.  And that's really the only thing I can think of :P

    I dreamed a dream - Les Mis
  • I Dreamed A Dream - This tune is repeated quite a bit.  The earliest moment after the song itself, is right after the 'Confronation' ("And this I swear to you tonight...").  That part always makes me tear up.  Then, when Valjean goes to get Cosette from the Thenardiers, he sings a few lines to the same melody ("And the mother is with God...") which I heard for the first time in the film (it's in the CSR as well) and found hugely heartbreaking.  Both of those bits have something to do with Fantine, but the next one doesn't (not really, at least).  Cosette, Marius, Eponine and Enjolras' parts in 'One Day More' all follow the same tune with Marius and Cosette singing the counterparts to Enjolras and Eponine.  I actually never realized all of that until I was humming ODM one day and heard it seguing into IDAD in my head.
  • Who Am I? - This song is the first song that has the classic tune that's largely recognized as 'One Day More'.  I really love how the first few opening notes spill out and then Valjean starts singing ("Who am I?  Can I condemn this man to slavery?").  As well as being repeated in ODM, this melody is also used for 'Valjean's Confession', probably one of the reason I love it so much.  I think it's sort of like Valjean's 'theme tune' because it's used for two of his solos, and he really is the main force behind ODM, since he keeps repeating the iconic phrase throughout.
  • Fantine's Death - For the longest time, I thought that this song and 'On My Own' were hugely similar in tune.  But having listened to instrumental versions for both, I discovered they're actually quite different.  Sure, the basic melody is the same, but OMO is a lot 'bigger'.  'Fantine's Death' is much quieter and simpler.  Anyway...it does share a lot of the same tune with the Epilogue, which is quite fitting because Valjean is dying now and Fantine's comforting him.

    Les Mis | From Les Misérables: Castle on a Cloud, lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil.
  • Castle on a Cloud - I'm racking my brains, seeing if there's any other moment besides the "Three men I saw beyond the wall..." bit that shares the same tune as this song.  But I don't think there is.  I still think that Sierra and I should've written a solo for Courfeyrac in the Barricade Boys Musical, to the tune of 'Castle on a Cloud' but we just didn't think of it at the time :P  Anyway.  That doesn't really have much bearing on the topic on hand.
  • Master of the House - Okay.  I haven't watched MOTH, but I know the tune, and let me just say that it's the Thenardiers theme tune (wow.  That must be really surprising to hear).  Every time they come on stage, this tune is always playing in some way.  It fits them perfectly.  Not that I'm surprised ;)

    red and black- Les Mis  <3 BEST song <3
  • Red & Black/Do You Hear The People Sing? - The only time the melody of R&B is repeated is during the barricade scenes.  DYHTPS? is, of course, repeated in the amazing, stirring and tearjerking finale.  I can't believe I'm actually going to see it live.  AHHHHHH.
  • Stars - Basically my favorite orchestration in the entire show, and it's really a shame that it isn't repeated at all.  Except for the instrumental interlude after "That those who falter and those who fall, must pay the price..." which is played at the end of 'Javert's Suicide' when he sings his last big note, I can't recall the tune of 'Stars' being used anywhere else.  *le sigh*
  • In My Life/A Heart Full Of Love - 'In My Life' isn't repeated in the musical, but AHFOL gets a reprise during 'Every Day', using almost all of the same words.  I've always loved that song - I think it's one of the cutest little songs in musical theatre :)
  • Bring Him Home - The melodic reprise of this song is just...so sad.  It always made me tear up during the concerts, but I was sobbing during the film.  Definitely one of the most moving parts in the entire movie/musical.
  • Turning - 'Lovely Ladies', just slowed down (and I know that just because I have a half hour long LM instrumental medley that happens to include LL).  Oh, and might I add that it's a gorgeous song.  'Turning' is one of my absolute favorites.
So, that's pretty much it.  I think I covered all the songs, and if I didn't, well...what can I say?  Les Miserables has over forty songs and I'm pretty tired right now.  Oh, I forgot 'Dog Eats Dog', but I don't think of that as Les Mis, in any way shape or form, and it doesn't have a 'match', so forget it.  Now off to bed...

Eva

4 comments:

Miss Jane Bennet said...

SQUEEEEP. I loved this post! And this kind of fits in with your theory about reprises, doesn't it? 'Cause the reprise of R&B in the movie is so. sad. *sob*
And it is too bad that "Stars" didn't get a piece...but the reprise of BHH during "Javert Inspects the Dead" is quite possibly the most emotional reprise ever. Besides the finale. *Sniffle*
And speaking of the finale...just wow. Like, every time I think of you going to see it live, I get all excited and now I realized that you're going to see the entire cast, on stage, live, singing the hugely amazing finale. Squeeep. :)

Caroline L. said...

Ooooh, this is so neat! I've done the matching thing in my head, but never mapped everything out like this.

Oh! The tune of "Castle on a Cloud" does appear one other time for a few moments in the "Prologue" when Valjean is in the countryside looking for work (I'm referring to the stage/concert shows. I have seen the movie enough times to remember if its in there). You can hear it for a minute or two, right before the farmer yells "You'll have to go. I'll pay you off for the day. Collect your bits and pieces there and be on your way." Oh, and now that I'm thinking of it another song match is "Fantine's Death" and the part of the "Prologue" where Jean Valjean has just been released from prison: "Freedom is mine, how strange the taste. Never forget the years, the waste...."

Katelyn said...

Has anyone else noticed that in the scene where Valjean is talking to Fauchelevent at convent, the tune of "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" is being sung by the nuns?

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I haven't listened to this score in a long time, but I think I remember a few more. The tunes of "Fantine's Arrest" are repeated in "Javert's Intervention" (and I think there's a bit of the Waltz of Treachery in the Robbery). Also, the scene where Marius asks Eponine to find Cosette for him is to the tune of "A Little Fall of Rain."

I don't know if you've ever noticed, but certain lines and phrases are repeated all through the libretto, too. For instance, count the references to a chain and a chain being broken...and uses of the phrase "on my/your own."

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