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Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext? 
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Post Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
Today in the "Music in Perspective (MIP)" class we learned about the renaissance, and we heard a motet called "A Little Death". According to our book and a Wiki we use in class, "A Little Death" in French is a metaphor for "Climax or orgasm". This has transfered to other languages as well. I do not know if this is common knowledge, but found it very interesting. So I ask, did Sondheim know this? Is Charlotte referring to the sexual pleasures?

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Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:49 pm
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
This is one of the few Sondheim songs where I don't have the slightest idea what it means.

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Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:56 pm
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
I always associated that song with something sexual, but I had no idea about the phrase. That sorta gives whole new meanings to "Every Day a little sting" "I'm before him on my knees, and he kisses me". I thought it was a more a reflection on her LACK of love, but it could be saying that she's just not finding any pleasure in their love anymore.

This is a disturbing discovery. :P

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Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:07 am
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
High-baritonne wrote:
So I ask, did Sondheim know this?


No. He has said himself that he wasn't aware of that meaning when he wrote the song.

I think he means that every day of their marriage the count humiliates Charlotte, and she accepts it as much as it makes her despise both him and herself. Every little humiliation feels like a death. Or so I suppose.

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Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:33 am
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
I took it as being like the phrase "die a little inside."

Some of the lyrics are still very odd. A little death in the curtains? I just don't get it.


Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:33 pm
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
Mungojerrie_rt wrote:
Some of the lyrics are still very odd. A little death in the curtains? I just don't get it.


I think it means that every little detail that surrounds her in her daily life is a humiliation for her. Every insignificant part of their household is supposed to keep up appearances, but what they really do is reminding her of the falseness of their relationship.

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Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:59 am
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
My annoying optimistic and romantic mentality led me to assume that Charlotte despised him for the constant humiliation, abuse, and lying, but also still loved him just a little bit, and despising herself for it. And I've always interpreted the lyrics representing how her love (however reluctant it is) is so inescapable, every little thing reminds her of her conflicting feelings--love, anger, embarrassment, pain...in other words, death.
My interpretation kind of gives her a Fosca-esque appeal, actually. Just more self-aware.
I suppose her loving him would account for the fact that she regularly turns the other cheek in regards to Carl-Magnus and his affair with Desiree.
(I could be completely off-base)

But looking at it sexually is fascinating. We know now that Sondheim didn't intend it to be that way, but it does work eerily well, haha.

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Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:28 pm
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Post Re: Every Day a Little Death - Sexual subtext?
I was totally shocked when I found out Sondheim didn't know about the sexual history of that phrase - I've sung a lot of Renaissance music in various choirs, so it just seemed natural to me that he intended the very essence of the song to be about sex, rather than just the occasional nod to it ("I'm before him on my knees and he kisses me," the reference to his whores, etc.).


Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:44 am
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