Appendix to "How Frozen and Frozen II's music codes Elsa as aroace"

The main essay is here. This is just my bookkeeping of every motif I’ve found, where I’ve found it, and my commentary on it, which has nothing to do with the Elsa being coded as aroace. If you’re a big enough music theory nerd that that sounds interesting to you, feel free to keep reading and share your thoughts in the comments. For everyone else, you’re probably better off skipping this.

As a refresher, here’re all the motifs I’ve found. Now, let’s go through them all.

1. Born of Cold

Occurs in “Frozen Heart”, “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”

2. Frozen Heart

Many of the later occurrences of this motif are a lot slower, making it tricky but rewarding to notice. For whatever reason, the soundtrack version of “Treason” is missing a section of music where this motif appears, but it’s clearly audible in the movie. (The soundtracks actually deviate from the music in both films a surprising number of times.)

Occurs in “Frozen Heart”, incidental music after “Frozen Heart”, “Coronation Day”, “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”, “Return to Arendelle”, “Treason” (movie only), “Some People Are Worth Melting For”, “Whiteout”, incidental music after “Earth Giants”, “Reunion”

3a. Fear, 3b. Reharmonization of 3a in major

The most used motif, but also one of the most versatile. Throughout the franchise, its orchestration varies to indicate what kind of fear the characters are feeling. One of the best examples of this is “Sorcery”, when Elsa loses her glove, uses her powers, and runs away from the castle.

3a occurs in “Elsa and Anna”, Incidental music after “Heimr Àrnadalr”, “Sorcery”, incidental music after “In Summer”, “Summit Siege”, incidental music after “Summit Siege”, “Treason”, “Whiteout”, incidental music after “All Is Found”, “Wind”, incidental music after “Wind”, “Fire and Ice”, “River Slide”, “The Flood”
3b occurs in “Frozen Heart”, “Elsa and Anna”, “The Great Thaw”

4. Olaf

This motif is definitely related to and derived from 3a and 3b, but I feel like it’s distinct from them (especially when used in the later parts of Frozen II). Interestingly, this motif is originally introduced in “Elsa and Anna”, but not developed or reused until Frozen II.

Occurs in “Elsa and Anna”, incidental music after “Introduction”, incidental music after “Wind”, “Iduna’s Scarf”, “Gone Too Far”, “Reunion”

5a. Sisters Apart, 5b. Reharmonization of 5a in major, 5c. Variation of 5a

The reharmonization of 5a is used to emphasize moments when Elsa and Anna aren’t separate.

5a occurs in “Sorcery”, “We Were So Close”, “Whiteout”, “The Great Thaw”, incidental music after “Wind”
5b occurs in “Elsa and Anna”, incidental music after “The North Mountain”, “Epilogue” (Frozen)
5c occurs in incidental music after “Heimr Àrnadalr”

6. Elsa Mourns Anna

I’m not very confident about the name of this motif or what it actually represents, but it occurs when young Elsa is upset at having struck Anna with her magic, and when adult Elsa is upset at having frozen Anna. The motif is surprisingly upbeat for its subject matter, so it could also refer to thawing the ice in Anna, or Elsa’s love for Anna as a way of healing the pain caused by her magic.

Occurs in “Elsa and Anna”, “The Great Thaw”

7. Trolls

Occurs in “The Trolls”, incidental music after “Conceal, Don’t Feel”, “Only an Act of True Love”, “Whiteout”, incidental music after “Exodus”, incidental music after “Wind”

8. Concerning Thawing

I was torn on whether or not I should count this as a separate motif from 7, since it acts as the B section of music about the trolls. However, it’s specifically quoted when Olaf retells the events of Frozen (saying as Grand Pabbie “Only an act of true love can save you”), which is why I’ve decided to count it separately.

Occurs in “The Trolls”, “Only an Act of True Love”, incidental music after “Wind”

9. Build a Snowman

Occurs in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, “The Great Thaw”, “Epilogue” (Frozen), “Introduction”

10. Don’t Let Them In

Occurs in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, “For the First Time in Forever”, “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”

11. Pressure

I’m not very confident about the name of this motif. For a while I thought of it as the “death” or “parental death” motif, but it also occurs in “Conceal, Don’t Feel” when neither of those ideas are particularly prominent. It could also have to do with feeling alone, but once again “Conceal, Don’t Feel” doesn’t fit as well as I’d like.

Occurs in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, “Let It Go”, “Conceal, Don’t Feel”, incidental music after “Wind”

12. First Time in Forever

Occurs in “For the First Time in Forever”, “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”, “Epilogue” (Frozen)

13. Anna and Hans

Occurs in incidental music after “For the First Time in Forever”, “Winter’s Waltz”, incidental music after “Return to Arendelle”

14. Snow Queen

This rhythmic motif occurs when Elsa is directly or indirectly an antagonist or obstacle to other characters.

Occurs in “Sorcery”, “Onward and Upward”, incidental music after “Marshmallow Attack!”, “Summit Siege”

15. Beginning an Adventure

This rhythmic motif plays when Anna, Kristoff, and Hans each set out on an adventure.

Occurs in “Royal Pursuit”, “Onward and Upward”, incidental music after “In Summer”

16. Let It Go

Occurs in “Let It Go”, “Conceal, Don’t Feel”, “Summit Siege”, “Whiteout”

17a. Anna and Kristoff, 17b. Variation of 17a

Anna and Kristoff’s motif is particularly interesting, since it (I think intentionally) does “being a movie love theme” totally wrong. It technically fulfills both requirements to “use sixths” and “go up”, but the closest thing we get to a melodic “sixth” is actually a descending augmented fifth (C# to F natural). The ascending major sixth from E to C# is interrupted by D, the descending major sixth from D to F natural is interrupted by C#, and the rhythmic contour makes the motif feel like two descending gestures, instead of an ascending one. The closest that the Frozen franchise ever gets to a “romantic ascending sixth” moment is when Kristoff saves Anna from the earth giants in “Rude Awakening”, which lasts all of 6 seconds.

17a occurs in incidental music after “Let It Go”, “Onward and Upward”, “Wolves”, “The North Mountain”, incidental music after “In Summer”, “Marshmallow Attack!”, “Conceal, Don’t Feel”, “Some People Are Worth Melting For”, “Whiteout”
17b occurs in “Epilogue” (Frozen)

18. Freezing

This rhythmic motif occurs at important moments when Anna starts to turn to ice.

Occurs in “Only an Act of True Love”, “Whiteout”

19. Anna and Kristoff Separated

This motif is often paired with a slow occurrence of 2, which could represent the idea that “Anna’s heart is frozen because Kristoff left her”. 2 appears in Frozen II without 19, when Kristoff proposes to Anna in “Reunion”, and I’m not quite sure what to make of that. (“Anna’s heart was frozen, but is now thawed because she’s engaged to Kristoff”?) I’m not a fan of either of these interpretations, since they detract from the message of Frozen, so if you have alternate interpretations, let me know.

Occurs in “Return to Arendelle”, “Treason”, “Some People Are Worth Melting For”, “Whiteout”, incidental music after “Earth Giants”

20. Kristoff Returns

Occurs in “Treason”, “Some People Are Worth Melting For”

21a. Northuldra, 21b. Reharmonization of 21a

21a occurs in “The Northuldra”, incidental music after “The Northuldra”, “The Mist”, “The Ship”
21b occurs in incidental music after “Exodus”, “The Mist”, “Wind”, “The Ship”, “The Flood”

22. Dam

This motif is first introduced as the second half of 21a, but it definitely gets developed into a distinct idea. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like this motif is fairly similar to the “History of the One Ring” motif from The Lord of the Rings. If it’s just a coincidence, it’s a brilliant coincidence, since it subtly suggests that the dam has a dark side to it.

Occurs in “The Northuldra”, incidental music after “The Northuldra”, incidental music after “Exodus”, “The Mist”, “The Ship”, “The Flood”

23. Siren

This motif doesn’t occur in Frozen, but it almost occurs a few times in a soprano line during important moments of Elsa using her magic. I think that’s a lucky coincidence, but it gives even more weight to “Every day’s a little harder / As I feel my power grow”. Interestingly, the only time this motif is heard in the orchestration of Frozen II is in “All Is Found”. I think this is an intentional decision, meant to highlight the motivic and thematic work I talked about in “The Flood”.

Occurs in “The Northuldra” (movie only), “All Is Found”, incidental music after “All Is Found”, incidental music after “Some Things Never Change”, incidental music after “Sisters”, “Into the Unknown”, incidental music after “Exodus”, “Wind” (movie only), “Fire and Ice” (movie only), incidental music after “Lost in the Woods”, “Dark Sea” (movie only), “Show Yourself”

24. North Wind

Occurs in “All Is Found”, incidental music after “Sisters”, “Iduna’s Scarf”, “The Ship”, “Show Yourself”

25. Dive Down Deep

Occurs in “All Is Found”, “Iduna’s Scarf” (movie only), “The Ship”, “Show Yourself”, “Ghosts of Arendelle Past”

26. Some Things Never Change

I’m on the fence about including this, since the orchestral reprise in “Epilogue” doesn’t feel very motivic, but its repetition is quite prominent, and it’s more motivic in character than Vuelie.

Occurs in “Some Things Never Change”, “Epilogue” (Frozen II)

27. Sisters Together

Occurs in “Sisters”, “Earth Giants”, “The Ship”, “Reunion”

28. Sisters Apart Truncated

This motif is definitely built from simply taking the first three notes of 5a, but I’m counting it as distinct because of the narrative and musical implications. First, this motif represents how Elsa and Anna are together and trust each other. Second, this motif is always harmonized ending on a major chord, and uses different scale degrees compared to 5a (“do ti mi la” for 5a versus “fa mi la” for 28, in movable do solfege).

Occurs in “Sisters”, “The Ship”, “Reunion”

29. Response

Elsa’s response to the Siren, and later the Siren’s response to Elsa.

Occurs in “Into the Unknown”, incidental music after “Lost in the Woods”, “Show Yourself”

30a. Magic, 30b. Reharmonization of 30a

You could argue that the very beginning of “When I Am Older” features another variation of this motif, but it’s obscure enough that I’m not counting it.

30a occurs in “Exodus”, incidental music after “The Mist”, “Wind”, “Iduna’s Scarf”, “The Ship”, “Dark Sea”, “Ghosts of Arendelle Past”
30b occurs in “Iduna’s Scarf”, “Gone Too Far”, “Reunion”, “Epilogue” (Frozen II)

31. Water

Putting aside my bad transcription, calling this “Water” makes more sense than anything else I could come up with. “The Ship” and “Dark Sea” are fairly self explanatory, and while we don’t see the Nokk in “The Mist”, it serves as an introduction to the Enchanted Forest.

Occurs in “The Mist”, “The Ship”, “Dark Sea”

32. Earth

Once again, my transcription here is mediocre at best.

Occurs in “The Mist”, “Earth Giants”, “River Slide”, “Rude Awakening”

33. Fire

Occurs in “The Mist”, “Fire and Ice”, “Earth Giants” (movie only)

34. Fifth Spirit

After spending this much time thinking about Frozen, I can’t tell if I’m finding connections that are very well hidden, or convincing myself there’s something there where there’s nothing, but I’ve noticed something very interesting: this motif can be broken into three sub-motifs. The first three notes are almost 30b, the next three notes are 16, and the rest is almost 3a. That would make “Fifth Spirit” the sum of “Magic”, “Let It Go”, and “Fear”. Looking at the melody of “Come, my darling, homeward bound / When all is lost, then all is found”, we can break that into the same three motifs in the opposite order. “Come, my darl-” becomes “Fear”, “ing, homeward bound” becomes “Let It Go”, and “When all is lost, then all is found” becomes “Magic” (with an extra note to resolve to the tonic.) We’ve already seen the use of inversion with “Lost and Found” versus “Found and Lost”, so this analysis seems like it could be rewarding, but I’m not sure what it would reveal.

Occurs in “Wind”, “Iduna’s Scarf”, “Dark Sea”, “Ghosts of Arendelle Past”, “The Flood”

35. Next Right Thing

Interestingly, the part of “The Next Right Thing” that the orchestra quotes is not the actual lyrics “The next right thing”, but the passage right before it.

Occurs in “Iduna’s Scarf”, “Gone Too Far”, “The Next Right Thing”

36. Dangerous Water

Occurs in “River Slide”, “Dark Sea”

37. Becoming Yourself

This motif features at the end of “Dark Sea”, the piano bass line of “Show Yourself”, and a variation of it shifted up a diatonic step is featured in “The Flood”.

Occurs in “Dark Sea”, “Show Yourself”, “The Flood”
  • There are some rhythmic psuedo-motifs in the Frozen franchise that indicate danger and make the on-screen action more exciting. Two prominent psuedo-motifs are hemiolas (“Sorcery”, “Dark Sea”, “Rude Awakening”, “The Flood”) and the use of 7/8 (“Summit Siege”, “Exodus”).
  • Even though “Vuelie” is a repeated musical idea, I’m not counting it as a motif, because it functions more like a self-contained song than a modular idea.
  • I still have some outstanding questions about the music of the Frozen franchise: Does the use of piano have any motivic or emotional meaning? What’s the significance of the “siren” motif only occurring when Elsa isn’t actively using magic? What’s the significance of the piano line before and during the second chorus in “Show Yourself”? What does analysis of the harmony and use of chromaticism reveal?

It’s entirely possible that I’ve missed or mislabeled motifs. (For example, I think there’s no wind motif because Gale has a specific sound effect, but I could be wrong.) So, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

One thought on “Appendix to "How Frozen and Frozen II's music codes Elsa as aroace"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s