The Impossible Girl

Greetings, everyone!

This week’s post is about Doctor Who, and more specifically about the amazing Clara (Oswin) Oswald, the last companion of the Doctor. She is my favourite character among all the companions he had – I am sorry about Amy Pond, I also like her, but I find Clara more charismatic.

Clara is defined as being “The Impossible Girl”, which is also how her theme is called, and it is due to the fact that she had a couple of lives, and she also managed to survive even though she had to die. It is very much complicated, trust me, and if, like me, you cannot remember everything and need some help, I suggest you watch this video recapping everything.

The composer of the Doctor Who soundtrack is the incredible Murray Gold, who made amazing soundtracks. He composed the soundtracks from 2005 – more precisely, from the 9th doctor played by Christopher Eccleston – until today. He re-arranged the main theme which was composed by Ron Grainer.

The fact that I chose this music is not a mere coincidence, it is mainly because I will miss our dear Jenna Coleman playing Clara, who was an excellent actress, and Clara being an excellent character. Oh, and if you did not know, Doctor Who is coming back on April, the 15th!

Now, let’s get to work!

The Analysis

This is the theme:

I have to admit it was quite difficult to find the right one, as there are several versions of it. This is the one that is performed at the Doctor Who Prom (concert).

This is how I divided the musical piece:

  • 0:00-1:44   Part A
  • 1:44-2:17   Part A’
  • 2:17-2:42   Part B
  • 2:42-3:09   Part A”
  • 3:09-end   Coda

Let’s begin!

Part A

This first part is relevant: it introduces the theme, that will be repeated several times throughout the musical piece. The repetition underlines the fact that it is central.

We first hear the piano, constant, always playing the same notes, giving this regularity and endlessness. The notes are high pitched, and it gives a soft sound. The violins are accompanying it, playing the same long notes: as if it were a drone (“bourdon” in French), meaning a note that can be heard throughout the piece. However, it does not last. It sets an atmosphere, which, to me, is hopeful – enhanced by the violins, that gives this light of hope.

The clarinet makes its appearance and plays the theme. There are no drums, it is really pleasant, and it sounds like a lullaby. It is comforting, gentle, and positive. It depicts Clara as being a hopeful & gentle girl.

There is not a lot of energy at first so the viola gives some by playing two consecutive rapid notes sometimes, therefore at 0:39 the orchestration gets bigger and it gets mezzo forte. It gets more intense, we cannot hear the piano anymore, though the violins and the viola are more active: our Clara does not lack energy. On 0:57, the clarinet is joined by the xylophone a little bit, then by the flutes, giving more tenderness.

At 1:17 it seems different, though it is just the continuation of the theme. It is still as soft as before, the theme can still be heard, and the harp acts as an accompaniment here, and a glissando can also be heard at 1:22-1:24 – it seems to be even more magical, as the xylophone was already giving this feeling. At the end of this part, there is a rallentando (= it gets a bit slower) and a decrescendo to go on with Part A’.

Part A’

It is still the same theme, but now the harp took the lead! It is no longer accompanying the clarinet. The violins are accompanying it though, and the harp does not really seem to lead here even though it is playing the theme. It looks weakened, and denotes painfulness about the manner in which the chords are plucked. The tempo is also slower, increasing this lack of energy that can be felt.

The violins seem to answer the harp as they are played one after another – the violins still having more energy and maybe trying to know why the harp is weaker. It makes me think about the time when Clara supposedly dies, and I will tell you why in a moment. At 2:00 the trombone can be heard and to me it signifies hope. From 2:05, it changes a bit, still beautiful and hopeful than ever, again with the trombone and a growing crescendo.  It shows that Clara stays strong even though she knows she is going to die and cannot escape her death. We have the impression it will get stronger because of the crescendo, but it doesn’t, and it gets us to our Part B.

Part B

It begins with our theme, pianissimo… that only lasts 5 seconds. Clara’s death is approaching. She acknowledges it, as it is still hopeful, and this is the moment she tells the Doctor to keep being a Doctor, to keep “healing people” and not to harm them because he will loose her. The moment where I try not to cry.

It still seems magical with the xylophone, the crystal sounds, and the violins being the only instruments at 2:22. Then, at 2:29 it gets darker with the trombone, low pitched, and the long high pitched note by the violins, denoting anxiety. We might think the theme ends at 2:38, but it doesn’t! At 2:40, a crystal sound can be heard as if magic were in the air, “bringing” Clara back to life: she is saved by the Doctor.

Part A”

Clara is alive, the theme comes back even more powerfulIt is now forte, the whole orchestra can be heard, and the theme is performed by the clarinet, the flutes, and the xylophone at the same time. At 2:55 the trombone makes it appearance, it is strong, and signifies victory. As it is followed by the violins, it is even more powerful.

However, this victory begins to fade at 3:04: Clara is not supposed to be alive, she was bound to die, so time has been altered. Either her or the Doctor have to forget about one of them and not to see each other anymore- which brings us to the Coda.

Coda

Here is about the decision the Doctor & her take: the Doctor forgets about her, so that he will not be able to reconnect with her. The violins and the clarinet are leading here, they are performing together, and it seems like they do not want to part – as the Doctor & Clara do not want to. Though, they have to and they do it while ending on the same long note. I find this part a bit sad. However, it ends on a happy ending: at 3:30, the theme comes back to conclude the musical piece, as magical and hopeful as the beginning – to tell us that Clara is still alive and well, and that is the most important thing.

My Conclusion

In the end I did not have a lot of things to say, but it clearly depicts the character of Clara Oswald really well: her hopefulness, her joy, her energy, her gentleness… even when she is about to die – which is implied in the musical piece – she stays strong, and faces her death.

The overall presence of the theme is due to the fact it is her theme, it means that it represents her and what happens to her throughout the TV series.

Even though she had to part with the Doctor, the musical piece tells us that she still had her happy ending and is safe and sound.

It does not mean I am satisfied with her absence.

See you next week!

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