Favourite seconds: Distance and tragedy in ‘The Lighthouse’

Another “my favourite seconds” entry, this one from caitlin:

“The Lighthouse 4:25- end of song. This makes me feel as if something tragic has happened and I love the way it makes me feel.”

Oh, I am extremely desirous to really dig into the complexities of this song, but for now, here’s what I came up with over the past couple hours…

There are two chord progressions in this song. The first progression is F major-y, and goes F-Am-Bb-Dm-Am-Bb-Gm and then repeats. The second progression, which appears from 1:51-2:46 (“What do the waves have to say?”) and from 4:25-end, is D minor-y, and goes Gm-Am-Bb-Dm, also repeating.

The first progression moves at a pretty even pace, rhythmically speaking, and its implied resolution is F major – the very first chord of the song; the first progression, then, is more calm and reassuring sounding.

The second progression, however, moves at a relatively uneven pace, and its resolution is D minor, which is indeed the final chord of the piece; thus, the second progression invokes suspense and sadness.

I hear caitlin’s “something tragic” at the beginning of the coda as triggered by two musical moves. The first musically “tragic” move is the denial of the first progression to resolve to its F major chord. Instead, the guitars hang on Gm, and all hope for resolution is entirely frustrated as the second progression picks up the Gm and starts down its own path.

The second musically “tragic” move is the return of the second chord progression, with its suspense and sadness. As if to confirm the tragedy, the drums enter for the first time during this section, and indeed the rest of the instruments are brought to the fore in the mix, so that the music sounds much louder and closer to the ear than it had before. As if to say: This, the coda, is the reality in which we find ourselves, while the music that preceded it is now revealed to have been in a far off land.

That’s all for now! Until next time,

Much Love,



~ by megwilhoite on May 3, 2009.

One Response to “Favourite seconds: Distance and tragedy in ‘The Lighthouse’”

  1. Hey Meg, I just came across your website and am really interested in all of your blogs. I just saw that you took notice to my “favorite seconds” entry about The Lighthouse, and I’m glad you commented on it. Thanks for sharing your input 🙂

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