So, I just watched this video on Youtube called How Hamilton Works: Eliza’s Chord Progression by Howard Ho. Basically, it’s a wonderful synthesis and explanation of the musical themes that pervade the show and combine to create Eliza’s own musical theme. This is particularly present in the songs “Burn” and “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?”
At many points in Hamilton, the “Alexander Hamilton” chord progression is played. (The chords that open the show) This chord progression is always accompanied by Aaron Burr asking a question. i.e. “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore…etc, etc” In essence, these chords represent the narrative drive. They further the story. Except, there is one instance (the last instance, in fact) where the chord progression appears without a question. Without Aaron Burr at all, in fact. This is in “Burn”. Most people recognize the Satisfied-sounding chords played by the right hand on piano, but the left hand is the hand that plays a slight variant of the “Alexander Hamilton” chord progression. This is important, because these chords further the narrative. Yet, in this case, the narrative is being destroyed. On the other hand (quite literally, in this sense) the “Satisfied” chords represent family obligation. Combine these two, a variant of the “Alexander Hamilton” chord progression, and a variant of the “Satisfied” chord progression, and we see something special.
In the words of Howard Ho, “So, why would Lin-Manuel Miranda combine these two themes together? He’s trying to tell us something musically. In a song where Eliza sings “I’m erasing myself from the narrative”, it’s even more heartbreaking that she uses the Alexander Hamilton chord progression, which symbolizes forward narrative motion in order to sing about stopping the narrative. No longer a narrative device, the Alexander Hamilton chord progression becomes here a commentary on narrative devices. And it’s combined with the Satisfied run which represents family duty because Eliza is burning the letters to protect her family. But, the Satisfied run has been altered, turned into the minor mode with a more angular presence. This is the dark side of family duty. That, sometimes in order to preserve your family’s history, you have to destroy it.”
However, when we enter the final song, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?” Eliza has finally put her self back in the narrative. She has forgiven Hamilton for all his wrongs, and is telling his story, yet in her own way. She tells it in a less villainous way than many would. She emphasizes all the great things his ambition provided. Here, we see the same chords of the “Alexander Hamilton” chord progression, the representation of the narrative and of ambition alike, but we see these chords rearranged to something much sweeter. These are Eliza’s chords now.
“Tell me. What is love like?” she whispers to him under the stars. He stares off before the words fell from his lips like embers.
“Love. It’s like fire.
It’s so beautiful to look at. It is wonderful to make and have… but if you aren’t careful it, then it will burn you.
It will engulf your soul and leave nothing but dark ashes behind.
Love is both a warm fire on a cold night and a terrifying wildfire when exploring. Beautiful from afar, but a horror when too close.
I guess, simply put, love is something that with just enough distance could keep you warm and alive through the darkest winters in your life.”
His voice drifted off into the darkness and she knew he hadn’t kept enough distance before.
2013 vs. 2017. When you look at the difference between these two pictures it’s quite dramatic but there were dozens of in-progress pictures between these two! This doesn’t happen overnight. My biggest tip is to not let one bad day or meal ruin your week. Progress is inevitable if you stay consistent. You don’t have to be perfect but you have to learn to bounce back from set backs! The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new ❤
It’s been a while since we’ve spoken to each other.
The flowers under our favourite tree have withered and turned into blankets of snow, burying the places we’d call our own.
I know you cheated on me with that girl who gets you drunk every time you try to talk about your past. Our past.
I know you don’t really love her. At least, not as much as you seemed to love me. I can see it in the way you avoid the places we used to go to together or the way you keep wishing you could hold her the way you used to hold me.
Please, honey. Come back to me.
It’s killing me inside to see us like this.
I want to start over with you.
I know it won’t be the same if we’re back together and all the resentment we can’t weed out of our chests will turn into the cold distance between us but I promise I will try harder to forget. I will love you so much that you’ll forget the space between us ever existed.
You ruined me and I don’t know how to mend my broken parts again and I hate this desperation but I need you now.
I am ready to crumble just to be with you.
Please just come back to me.
Tamarind Fall; Writing prompt: A girl writing to a boy who cheated on her but she still loves him and wants to start a relationship with him, but it’s changing her for the worse. She loves him so much but he doesn’t seem to care.