If you’re trying to be in a holly, jolly Christmas mood, this is not the song for you.This tragically beautiful masterpiece is sure to get you all the way in your feelings but you’ll love being there. A bittersweet contemplative ode to a love lost.
Admin Pisces already did a wonderful job dissecting the text. But it’s time to delve a little deeper then connect all the pieces together to reconstruct the seamless artwork that they produced.
**Warning: This is a discussion based on an analysis of a piano/vocal score. Yes, you read that correctly, Admin Aqua finally semi got her wish. That means this post might get a little long.
Every aspect of this song is geared towards painting a melancholic miracle, from the instrumentation to the key to the vocal and of course the lyrics (I’m looking at you Pisces).
Once again the choice of instruments create a simple portrayal of emotions. The piano, the basic instrument that is the foundation of composition, begins the piece. The strings enter during the first plaintive passage.
나밖에 몰랐었던 이기적인 내가 yeah
neul nabakke mollasseotdeon igijeogin naega yeah
The selfish me, who always knew only myself, yeah
네 맘도 몰라줬던 무심한 내가
ne mamdo mollajwotdeon musimhan naega
The heartless me, who didn’t even know your heart
이렇게도 달라졌다는 게
ireohgedo dallajyeotdaneun ge
Even I can’t believe
나조차 믿기지 않아
najocha midgiji anha
that I changed like this
ceng jing de wo tai guo zi si
The past me was too selfish
zhi zhao gu wo zi ji yeah
only caring about myself
ceng jing de wo tai sha
The past me was too foolish
bu dong de ni de xin
to understand your heart
xian zai de wo yi tian tian zai gai bian
The me of now is changing every day
ming ming ni bu zai wo shen bian
Clearly, you’re not by my side
Let’s be honest, when someone is telling you a sob story what do you imagine playing in the background? Strings, more specifically people say a small violin. How fitting then is it that strings are in the accompaniment. They weave in and out of the song expressively appearing and disappearing. Much like the object of their affection who “I gaze longingly at the you whom I cannot see…I see the scenes that I couldn’t see before.” Fading in and fading out.
The key, ah, the key. It has been a long held belief since ancient times that certain keys convey certain moods and emotions. Studies have shown this to be true as well as the fact that there are those who have Chromesthesia. What is Chromesthesia you ask? It is a type of Synesthesia where a person perceives certain tones, timbres and pitches as certain colors.
It is an amazing phenomenon, but how does that correlate to keys and moods? Well, colors have been proven to affect and/or portray your mood/emotions. This just further reinforces the connection between keys and moods/emotions.
Everyone knows the basics of happy=major key and sad=minor key but what about the keys individually especially as it pertains to Miracles in December? Miracles in December was written in A-flat major with a modulation to B major followed by a return to A-flat major. But what does this mean in regards to moods/emotions? According to Christian Schubart’s Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806) translated by Rita Steblin in A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, A-flat major is the “Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius” while B major is “Strongly coloured, announcing wild passions, composed from the most glaring coulors. Anger, rage, jealousy, fury, despair and every burden of the heart lies in its sphere.” This is beyond fitting for a song about the gift of hindsight. The “Key of the grave” for a song about a dead relationship of which there is no returning. The key change to B major in the B section makes more sense in light of this information as well.
너와 함께 있는 걸
neowa hamkke itneun geol
I am with you
아주 조그맣고 약한 사람이 너의 사랑이
aju jogeumahgo yakhan sarami neoui sarangi
A very small and weak person, your love
이렇게 모든 걸
ireohge modeun geol
내 삶을 모두
nae salmeul modu
all of my life
all of the world
na shi hou de ni he wo
the you and I of that time
bu gou jian qiang de wo
The me that is not strong enough
tian tian zai gai bian yin wei ni de ai
is changing everyday because of your love
ni gai bian liao yi qie
You changed everything
wo zheng ge sheng ming
my entire life
zhe yi qie
wo zheng ge shi jie
my entire world
This section is most definitely “[s]trongly colored, announcing wild passions…and every burden of the heart.” The key choices solidify the tone. It is also worth noting that the song doesn’t end using any of the typical cadences. It’s open ended on an Fm9. What mood does F minor emit? “Deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave.” A “funeral lament” ending to a song in the “key of the grave” about a long lost love in the dead of winter. A chilling connection.
Now for these vocals. Although we have heard them sing morose songs before, this time there is something strangely familiar but different. While it is similar in some sections to the marvelous approach they took to What is Love( and we all know how much Admin Pisces and I love that song) you can clearly hear the growth in their voices and how they vocally emote. Baekhyun makes use of the flexibility of his voice. What do I mean by that? Baekhyun is blessed with the ability to adapt his voice seemingly with ease to whatever genre it is. His velvety, plush delivery and fluid phrasing gives way to a rich, powerful tone in the song’s moments of intensity. Chen does what he does best, he soars. No, I’m not talking about high notes. His voice contains that brilliant ring that cuts through. He is also capable of producing calm, lyrical tones as we see in some of his passages in Miracles in December. Dulcet throated Luhan again uses a smooth, buttery tone and phrasing as he did in What is Love. Luhan truly has a silver tongue. D.O. has the gift of balance. He is able to vocally adapt similarly to Baekhyun. D.O.’s vocal quality is warm throughout the song slightly becoming taut at moments of intensity.
Miracles in December contains a grace in its wintry desolation. There is always a type of beauty in winter’s void, you just have to be able to see it.
**Experience Otherworldly Aural Transfiguration**