[Theme of August] Dwelling on Things that Remain Unchanged
[Theme of August] Dwelling on Things that Remain Unchanged
  • Lee Jun-Haeng
  • 승인 2021.09.23 13:59
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"Me to You, You to Me", the soundtrack of "Hospital Playlist"
ⓒtvN
ⓒtvN

  The second season of TV show <Hospital Playlist> has started airing. I don’t usually catch up with TV shows, but this one is popular enough to attract my attention. The series is appealing to me in that it tells every day life stories and relationships of medical doctors. 
  The leading factor of its popularity, however, must be that the show features a band of main characters and their performances. Based on the set-up that the 5 main characters are from the class of 1999 at a medical school, the show plays many of the remixed versions of then-popular songs through the band, providing the viewers with an opportunity to enjoy the show and the reality at the same time. The actors and actress even gave a live streaming concert last summer, attracting around 300,000 real-time viewers.
  What has been leading the popularity is the song <Me to You, You to Me> originally sung by Korean folk band Jatanpung. The song has been loved by Koreans for so long that most Koreans would have listened to it at least once in their lifetime. What is so special about this song, then? To answer this question, we need a little bit of musical knowledge about ‘canon.’
  Over 70% of Korean pop songs take this canon progressions. Also known as the ‘money chords in pop music, canon is believed to guarantee pretty good reception from people when used in composing songs. It applies to pop songs in general, not only in Korea, as can be seen from the mega hit songs like <Let It Be> by the Beatles or <Don’t Look Back in Anger> by Oasis. The reason why the canon progressions can guarantee a success or it can easily impress people is that all sorts of human events are reflected in the canon chords.

  Take the canon in G for example. The first four chords will be G, D, Em7 and Bm7. And there is a little intriguing secret hidden in the Em7 and Bm7. If Mi is taken out from the four notes Mi, So, Ti and Re of the Em7 chord, it will leave So, Ti, Re, the triad of a G chord. Likewise, without the root note Ti in the Bm7 chord, the rest of the notes, Re, Fa#, and La make up a D chord. This results in the repetition of the G and D chords in the first four measures, making a G-D-G-D progression. Filling in the 3rd and 4th measures with an Em7 and Bm7, which are kind of relatives of a G and D chords, adds the color of sadness to the melody.
  Same goes with the chords of the 5th and the 7th measures. Without the root note La in the Am7 chord, we get the triad of a C chord. It means replacing the Am7 chord with a C wouldn’t cause any problem in the flow of melody. Yet with the major chord turned into a minor, the melody is colored with a sense of crisis or tension before wrapping up with D7. That is, the melody begins with bright energetic major chords of G and D, is strained by Em7 and Bm7, comes back to the happy C and G, passes through a crisis of Am7, and ends with a hope of D7. Isn’t the repetitive flow of ups and downs the same as that found in a human life? That is why canon chords sound familiar to us and can’t help being accepted with little failure.
 

ⓒtvN
ⓒtvN

  Canon means a general law or a principle that stays unchanged and effective in the flow of time. Happiness, anger, sorrow and pleasure that come from the ups and downs of human life is just like the canon that applies to any human generations. That probably explains why the song <Me to You, You to Me> has been loved by people for long. 


I, to You, may be a piece of beautiful memory / like the red sky at sunset
I wish the precious time we had together / remained like a painting with no regret

The speaker at the lyric of <Me to You, You to Me> sings the ‘unchangeability’ of a canon, which is actually impossible in real life. He/she wishes for eternity saying “be a promise of eternity” and “wish to shine forever” in the lyric. But the speaker is aware that nothing in the world can be eternal, and that is why he/she sings about his/her wish of everlasting in “wish…(it) remained like a painting” and “wish to shine forever.” One only wishes about something when he/she is not in the wanted situation or when there is a gap between the wish and the reality.


There is a word worth our attention - ‘painting’ in “remained like a painting.”
Time only passes by and any moment in it cannot be stopped. A painting,
however, is something that captures the image of a moment and can stay forever as it is.
The speaker knows that time cannot be stopped but he/she desires to leave one moment of it like a painting.
Still, the paining is not of a moment of the rising sun but of “the red sky at sunset.”


  There is a word worth our attention - ‘painting’ in “remained like a painting.” Time only passes by and any moment in it cannot be stopped. A painting, however, is something that captures the image of a moment and can stay forever as it is. The speaker knows that time cannot be stopped but he/she desires to leave one moment of it like a painting. Still, the paining is not of a moment of the rising sun but of “the red sky at sunset.”
  In its original song sung by Jatanpung, the refrain goes with a harmony of a high-pitched and a low-pitched voices with the high-pitched male voice standing out. This high-pitched tone sounds to me like a cry-out for those going unchanged when everything else changes.
  Canon progressions that are recognized across the generations with their formation of ups and downs that reflect human life. The song about the desire to capture the ‘things that remain unchanged’ among the things that change. Things that would stay as they are in our life, and our wish to catch those that we know would change in the end. I wonder what kind of life we are leading between the two.

 

Lee Jun-Haeng / Translated by Ok Eurom



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