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PD: brief analysis of non-Queen songs30 Oct 2002 19:51

You can post here your own section by section harmonic analysis of certain pop/rock songs.
Depeche Mode, Spice Girls, Deep Purple, U2, songs of classical masters, anything...

Keep in mind we can't rate Queen without examining other bands' music. Without examining the "contest" we can easily overrate any band including Queen. This is something that I learned reading Beatles song analyses and posts of their readers. I dare anyone to contribute, for me alone it's a too big task. The choices have to be eclectic: analysing pop songs will help us to rate Queen's pop songwriting in context of other pop songwriters while analysing progressive rock songs we will be able to rate Queen's progressive songwriting better.

1.PD 14 Nov 2002 17:47

Let's start.

My first pick is a Depeche Mode song. Their songs in the 80-ties had some unique chord progressions massively contributing to creat their "sound". Let's see one from 1990.
Enjoy The Silence:

Cm      /--- 8x ----\
Intro:  | Cm  | Eb  |
        | i   | III |

      /---------- 2x --------\
Verse | Cm  | Ebm | Ab  | -  |
      | i   | iii | VI  | -  |

Chorus | Fm  | Ab  | Cm  | Eb/Bb |
       | v   | VI  | i   | III   |

       | Fm  | Ab  | Cm  | B   |
       | v   | VI  | i   | #VII|

That's it. Two functionally exotic chords are used: iii, majVII, and a chord in its second inversion. The phrasing is foursquare, the songform is simple.

Song #2 is a David Bowie penned Mott The Hoople song: All The Young Dudes.
I guess it subtly influenced 1-2 Queen songs too (at least for a minimal extent).

Verse:
D:
/-------------- 2x --------------\
   (D/C#)
| D A/C# | Bm D/A | F#m   | A    |
| I  V   | vi  V  | iii   | V    |

| Em  7 | F#   Bm (A)| G   D | A    | -    |
| ii    | V-of vi    | IV  I | V    | -    |


Chorus: that's more interesting
                                      3/4
| D  /C# | Bm  D/A | Am  G | F  C | G   C   A || D...
| I      | vi  I   | v                      V || I
                a: | i  VII VI III VII III...  
             or C: |vi  V  |IV  I | V   I   VI...

Modulation form D to C (or a) and back is clever. The songform is mainly the ballad-modell with some sing-along choruses repeated in the outro.

The next one is:
Nik Kershaw: The Riddle (1984)
This pop song has one of the most "exotic" chord progression I can hear on the local radio stations over here. The often step-wise moving bassline occassionally moves against the lead tune.


Intro/Chorus
        /---------------- 2x ---------------\
bass  : | F#  G# | A   B...
chords: | F#m E  | A   B6  | F#  E  | D   A |
    f#: | i  VII |III  IV  | i  VII | VI III|

| B  C#   D  E |
| Bm A    D  E |
| iv III VI VII|

The only tricky chord is a borrowed chord (B = IV), one sixth chord, and we have some chords in their first inversion.


Verse (f#)
| F#m E/G#| A  B |C#m Dmaj7 | Bm  G  |
|  i  VII |III IV| v   VI   | iv bII |   (bII = bVII of A, the relative Major key of f#)


| F#   G# | A  B |C#  D... : note the bass moving in steps
| F#m E/G#| A  B |C#m Dmaj7 | D#m A#m |
|  i  VII |III IV| v   VI   |         |

| Bm A/C# D  E  |
| v  III VI VII |

measure 8 borrows two chords from the parallel key (vi and iii of F major)
(see also Keep Yourself Alive)

Bridge
  | G   C | F    Bb | Am D/F# | G Bdim/F |
G:| I  IV |bVII bIII| ii  V   | I

| E 4>3  | Am G/B C   | D  D/C | Bb  Eb |
|V-of-ii | ii  I  IV  | V      |bIII...
                             g: III  bVI|
   | Cm Bb Eb  F |
g: | v III VI VII|


The key change on the downbeat of the Bridge is executed abruptly without pivot chord. The G Major key has two sharps less than f# minor.
The remaining Choruses are half step higher (g minor) than the first.

The phrasing of the three sections is the same, almost four-square (4+4+1). The songform is straightforward and repetitive (due the AA' sections)

| Intro (Chorus) | Verse | Chorus | Verse | Verse | Chorus |
| Bridge | Solo (Chorus) | Chorus | Chorus - Tag |


Eric Clapton: "Layla". (Unplugged)
For first listen one can recognise this song has an unusual modulation between the vocal sections.


Verse
 | C#m7 | G#7   | C#m7  C  D  | E7    |
c#: i   |  V    |  i...
                E:    bVI bVII| I     |

 | F#m B7 | E  A  | F#7 B7 | E  A  || Dm
E: ii  V  | I  IV | ii  V  | I  IV ||
                           d:   V  || i

Chorus
 /------ 3x -----\
 | Dm Bb | C  Dm |
d: i  VI |VII  i |


| Dm Bb | C   A1 C1 |
| i  VI |VII  V VII |


The Verse modulates from c# minor to the relative major key (E). In the transition from the Verse to Chorus the key changes to the distant d minor key. This rare type of modulation can be executed remarkably simple way (IV of E = V of d ). The d to c# modulation sounds more unusual.

The phrasing is square, the songform is simple (ballad) and relatively repetitive:
| Intro (Chorus) I - II |
| Verse | Chorus |
| Verse | Chorus |
| Verse | Chorus'| Chorus' | Solo (Chorus'-Chorus') | Chorus'| Chorus" |

2.PD 19 Jan 2003 12:41

Dylan's importance in the history is rock music is restricted to the lyrical side of the songwriting. Musically his songs are not particularly interesting without his lyrics: no cathcy melodies, no interesting chord progressions or rhythms, etc. The most (nearly the only) innovative feature of his classic Blonde On Blonde album was its lenght (the first double album in rock music) and some unusually long songs (in context of the year of the release). They also credit him bringing electrical instruments into folk music.
 Here I provide a brief analysis of 14 songs from Blonde On Blonde. The vaste majority of the chords are diatonic, I notate them with arabic numerals this time, except 1-2 phrases where I switch to roman numerals. The songs are in major keys, and major chords dominate. The four-square phrasing is often broken by half measures, extra measures trown in.

1. Rainy Day Women #12 And 35

Form :
 
Intro (2) | Instr.| Verse | Verse | Verse |
                  | Instr.| Verse | Instr.| Verse | Instr.|


Each section (except the 2 measure intro) follows the 12-bar blues cliche.
The song lacks only two things on the musical side: catchyness and creativity.


2. Pledging My Time
Straightaway blues with underdeveloped lead melody.

songform:
| Verse | Verse | verse | solo | Verse | Verse | solo | solo-outro |
8 bar blues sections

| 1 | - | 4 | - |

| 1 | 5 | 1 |1 5|


I hope I won't hurt anyone's feeling if I say that this song as a piece of music is not creative nor original nor melodic. At least not as much as the ca. 99,99% of pop/rock music.


3. Visions Of Johanna
At last a song where the tune at least PARTLY sounds like it was COMPOSED. Partly it is just an improvised singing moving in a tighth range. The rhythm of the tune is performed with much freedom especially where it sounds more like stylized talking.
The phrasing square throughout. The song has 6-7 different (sub)sections, no less. These are articulated by chord-patterns, while these sections have not really distinctively different melody material or arrangement.
This is a three chord songs, the only extra thing is an occassional inversion that the bassline adds in the mesure 2 of figure "D". Very plain stuff.

The chord-patterns of the sections:

A: | 1 |4 5| 1 | - |

B: | 4 | - | 1 | - |

C: | 4 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 5 | - |

D: | 4 | 1*| 5 | 1 |

E: |4 5| 5 | 1 | - |

F: | 5 | - | 1 | - |

C-ext: | 4 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 5 | - |

the song:
intro,
A A B C | A D solo(A)
A A E C | A D solo(A)
A A B C | A D solo(A)
A A E C | A D solo(A)
A A F B C-ext | A D solo(AA)

 
It's quite complicated, at least not easy to memorize. On the musical side it is the only feature of the song we could treat as something creative or unusual.


4. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
The most melodic song so far with still many improvised parts. That's Dylan's style, that suits his lyrics.
This song has climaxes (D) introduced with dramatic crescendo (end of C). Here we have the first sections/phrases with uneven lenght. Note the syncopated harmonic rhythm in the middle of section B. Also note the descending bass in section D that makes the chord progression resemble to the "Pachelbel's Canon" cliche'.

A: |1  4| (instrumental)

B: |1  4|1   |4 1 |1   |4 14|5   |-   |

C: |6   |3   |2   |1   |6   |3   |2   |4   |-   |5   |-   |

D: |1 5 |4 1 |4 1 |5   |

The form consists of three cylces:
AAAA
B B C D D
AA
B B C D D
AAA
B B C D D
Solo(D D)



5. I Want You
The first song where the Verse(B), Chorus(A) and Bridge (C) sections are easily identifiable.
Note the stepwise moving (descending) bass in A and B sections.
 
A: |1   |5   |6   |5   |1   |-   |


B: |1   |5   |6   |5   |4   |5   |6   |5   |  


                  half
C: |3   |6   |3   |4 |5   |-   |
 
A(instr)
B A B A C
B A B A(first 4 measures)x4


Note the half measure in section C, something similar we saw used in the previous song. The Bridge features the traditional harmonic contrast (minor chords, no tonic) with the rest of the song.
Melody: Dylan doesn't seem to spend years creating good tunes.
Phrasing: A: semi-square, B: square, C: uneven


6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Ag..
Not too much flesh on the bones, but let's see what we've got:
Four square phrasing except ending of section B where an extra measure is added in favour of a 3+3+3+3+4 rhythm pattern. The songform is very repetitive, fortunately the lack of real lead melody prevents us to get bored with them, but the song is monoton enough.
 The outro development is something creative, but only for the standard of this not very complicated album.
Note the drastically changing harmonic rhythm in section B and the familiar descending bass also in section B.

Intro: |1   |-   |-   |-   |

A: |1   |6   |1   |6   |1   |6   |4   |5   ||4   |1   |6   |1   |6   |1   |4   |1   |


B: |3   |-   |-   |-   ||1 5 |6 5 |4   |1   |-   |


B* ...1 5 |6 5 |4   |1   |-   |-   |-   |1 5 |6 5 |4   |1   |
 
intro
A B A B
A B A B
A B A B
A B A B
A B*


7. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
It's a 12-bar blues, that says it all. On the musical side there's nothing creative, or something that is remotely original or catchy. The lead vocal is non-melodic. At least not much more than a plain talk is.


8. Just Like A Woman
At last a song with melodic lead vocals. At least in the beginning, soon it gets non/semi-melodic in a Dylanesque way.
The phrasing is square except a half measure at the end of section B. In the Bridge (C) we can find the first "alien" chord on the album: a "III" (I switched to roman numerals for that section). It almost sounds like a start of a key change, but it isn't. Notable is the varying harmonic rhythm.



Intro: |1 45|1   |1 45|1   | (first half of A)


A: |1 45|1   |1 45|1   ||4 5 |4 5 |4321|5   |

                                                   half
B: |6 14|5   ||1 32|4   ||1 32|4   ||1 32|4   ||5   |1  |4145|1   |


C: |III |-   |I   |-   ||III  |-   |IV   |V   |-   |


Intro
A B
A B C
A B
solo (A B)


9. Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine
Strange detail is that the song that has a "hook" (with a minor third over a major chord). Also we have something that almost sounds like a chorus with increased harmonic rhythm at the end of section "C" , even though it is not very melodic. The phrasing of section B and C is uneven, and we have a half measure again in section "C".


A: |1   |-   |-   |-   |

B: |2   |-   |-   ||1   |-   |

                                                        half
C: |3   |-   |2   |-   ||1   |-   ||5   |-   ||1 5 |4 1 |4  |5   |-   ||1   |-   |

D: |6   |-   |5   |-   |


Form:
A
BB C BB C
DD A
BB C
AA



10. Temporary Like Achilles
A bluesy track with undercomposed lead vocal again. We have three chords and square phrasing in the long verses.
The Bridge section steers away from the tonic chord, and it is added an extra measure to break the however square phrasing. Except this there's hardly anything original or creative in this song.
   

Intro: |1   |4   |1   |-   |

Verse:
 /----------------- 2x ------------------\
 |1   |-   |4   |5   |1   |-   |-   |-   |

 |5   |-   |-   |-   |1   |-   |-   |-   |

 |1   |-   |4   |-   |-   |4   |1   |15  |


Bridge:
 |6   |-   |3   |-   |6   |-   |3   |5   |-   |

The form is the two bridge modell:
Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse | Bridge | Verse | Outro (instr. Verse (AAB))



11. Absolutely Sweet Marie
There's nothing new, the arrangement is a bit tad "harder" and the temo is faster.
The phrasing is square except the end of the Bridge. The bridge presents us the second "strange" chord on the album: a bVI. As it starts the section it almost sound like a modulation, but it isn't. (De ja vu). Influental source could have been the pop-classic "I Only Wanna Be With You" from 1963. (See also Crazy Little Thing Called Love)

Intro:|1   |-   |-   |-   |

Verse:
 |1   |4 5 |1   |-   |
 
 |4   |1   |5   |-   |

 |1   |4 5 |1   |6   |
 
 |3   |3 1 |5   |-   |

 |4   |5   |1   |-   |

 

Bridge:
 |bVI | -  |I   | -  |

 |bVI | -  |I   |V   | -  |


The songform is nothing special.
Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse | Bridge | Verse |
                | solo (Bridge | Verse)| Verse - Intro (rep.)|




12. 4th Time Around
This is a song that is very very reminiscent of "Norvegian Wood" by the Beatles. No wonder, Dylan penned it intentionally so.
 Similarities are the meter (3/4), the key E-major (Norvegian Wood is partly in e minor), the rhythm of the lead melody and the way it starts on the 5th degree, and the tempo and the phrasing the harmonic rhythm (omitting the 1-4 vamping) are almost identical. Norvegian Wood is definitely more melodic and more interesting in term of harmony.
Compared to Norwegian Wood there is nothing extra in this song except an extra two measures added to the B phrases in order to break the square phrasing moreover the guitar arpeggios.

Intro: 
 |1  |4  |1  |4  | > referred as C

 |3  |-  |-  |-  |2  |-  |-  |-  |  > referred as B

 |1  |4  |1  |4  |1  |4  |1  |4  |  > referred as A


Note the A figures often omit the 1-4 vamping. The A figure is often added two extra measure, let's call it A*.

The form is:
Intro (C B A)
A* A* B A
A* A* B A
A* A* B A
A* A* A*
solo (A* A* B A)
Outro (C)


13. Obviously 5 Believers
Again an predictable non-creative three-chord song with undercomposed lead vocal. There is at least one microscopic creative detail: an extra measure inserted in the inside of the second Verse (as the 5th measure). The riffs (esp. in measure 13-17) are very familiar as Led Zeppelin ripped it off (not the only time they did so). The closing riff is very nice too.

Intro: |1  |-  |-  |-  |-  |-  |-  |-  |

Verse:
|1  |-  |-  |-  |4  |-  |-  |-  |1  |-  |-  |-  |5  |-  |4  |-  |1  |-  |-  |-  |


The songform:
Intro | Verse | Verse'| Verse | Verse | instr. Verse | Verse | instr. verse |



14. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
It's one of the most melodic songs on this not particularly melodic album. It's unusual long.
The meter is 6/8. The verse has step-wise descending bass. The 1-5-6 progression must be familiar for you from Queen songs, but this album too uses it several times, as the descending bass (with 1 6 5 6 chord progression) appears several times on this album.
Note how the descending bass is continued in the third phrase, and it all appears in double speed in the middle of the Bridge. The phrasing is square except two phrases in the Bridge that are added an extra measure each.



       /-------- 2x -------\
Intro: |1   |5   |6   |5   |


 
verse:
  /------ 2x -----
  |1  |5  |6  |5  |

  |4  |1  |5  |1  |

  |1  |2  |5  |-  |



Bridge:
 |2   |-   |1   |5   |

 |2   |-   |1   |5   |-   |

 |1 5 |6 5 |4 1 |5   |-   |

 |2   |-   |5   |-   |

 |2   |-   |1   |-   |

 
The songform is periodic:
Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse | Verse | Bridge |
      | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse | Verse | Bridge |
      | Verse | Verse | Bridge |
| solo (Verse | Verse | Bridge)|

3.jay 19 Mar 2003 17:01
this forum is great people.  its amazing, its really been helping me to understand some things about songwriting and music theory which is my passion of late.  i have been trying to figure out the keys to some of my favorite songs but i often run into a problem of one chord in the song always being not in the key that it seems to be in because it is a minor version of a chord that should be major or something like this.   i would appreciate it very much if someone could simply tell me the correct key of these two U2 songs as it might help me to figure out what/why they are doing in theory.  i posted some links to guitar tabs below of the songs if that would help.  also, are there any other song analysis forums for other bands or just in general?  i have searched the web extensively and this is the only one i can find!  thank you

where the streets have no name + sunday bloody sunday

www.imt.net
www.imt.net
4.PD 19 Mar 2003 18:09
The "Streets" is in D Major. The only "alien" chord is the Csus9 which is a bVII (a borrowed chord from the neighbour G major key, frequently used in rock songs). Strangely the lead melody (as far as I remember) uses major 7th degree during that chord, which creates a nice dissonance (C against C# and also D).

"Sunday" is in D too or halfway between D major and its relative minor key (b minor).
The chords and the whole song seems to be diatonic.
bm = vi
D = I
A = V
G = IV
Em = ii


Jay, if you think you can analyse here many U2 songs, even whole albums. I mean functional analysis and songforms. It's not that hard, you can try it soon or later.
There are some music theory forums out there, but this is maybe the only band-specific one.
The general music theory pages I have seen don't really focus on rock music. There are books that analyse rock music, but Queen and U2 are not favourite targets of such books. (Except the Beatles there is no favourite target of song analysis books).


"bonus track":
"One" is in a-minor / C Major
The only non-diatonic chord is the D (IV of Am)
5.PD 01 Apr 2003 10:36
A big part of the pop and rock songs of the fifties was not particularly creative in terms of harmony. Some non-diatonic chord-functions and basic (for today's standard) chord progressions (for example the double-plagal cadence) became popular or were (re-)invented between 195x-1965 massively contributing in the harmonic "explosion" of the sixties. These "new" harmonic devices helped rock and pop music harmonically become colorfull, and paved the way before music like Queen's. Many emphasize the role of the Beatles in this process, which is undeniable. Also undeniable, but IMO unfairly underdiscussed the role of their contemporaries predecessors.
A.Pollack in 1999 (ten year after he started his Notes-On series!) still suspected that the bVII chord was intvented by the Beatles.
groups.google.com

I suspect he did not analyse non-Batles songs (at least briefly) as many as he should have which made him using the word "unusual" more frequently than necessary in his Beatles articles. (I admit I'm a lightweight "expert" (if I'm one at all) compared to him, and probably deserve more critics, but I surely take more care discussing the achivements of other bands)

Surely many songs of that era had only three or four chords. Non-diatonic chords were used very sparely and almost always just in context of chain of fifths. Even the mediant chord (iii) was used rarely, at least William Mann said in late 1963 that the bVI and the iii (the latter in lesser extent) did "not figure much in other pop repertories", and considered these a trademark of the Beatles.
www.geocities.com
W. Mann (as I know) did not published analysis of other bands, and maybe/probably did not analysed non-Beatle songs on a grand scale.

Below I analyse ultra-briefly a play-list of a radio that plays singles of those days (up to 1965).
www.live365.com
The anaylsis is narrowed down to the existence of special chords (bIII, bVI, bVII), cliches (three chords: 1-4-5, Doo-wop: I > vi > IV > V ), chain of fifths (COF), modulations, key shifts.


Gene Pitney - It Hurts To Be In Love (1964)
     bIII, iii,
Bachelors - Charmaine (1963),
     key shift, COF ( VI > )
Roy Orbison - Tryin' To Get To You (1961)
     three chords,
Buddy Holly - Because I Love You (1956)
     four chords, COF ( II > )
Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill (1956)
     three chord verse, Bridge takes tonal center to iii (not really a modulation)
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti (1956)
     three chords
The Searchers - Someday We're Gonna Love Again (1964)
     modulation between relative keys
Gogi Grant - The Wayward Wind (1957)
     (bVII), bIII, IV > iv
Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
     three chords
The Sensations - Music, Music (1962)
     Doo-wop cliche, COF ( II > )
Cliff Richard - Don't Talk To Him (1963)
     nothing special
Jerry Wallace - Primrose Lane (1959)
     key shift (+1/2), outro bII - I vamping ("fake" key shift)
Frankie Laine - My Little One (195?)
     mainly three chords, key shift (+1/2)
Annette Funicello - Ma He's Making Eyes At Me (1960)
     key shift (+1/2), COF.
Cliff Richard - Summer Holiday (1963)
     iii, key shift (+1/2)
Paul Anka - Diana (1957)
     doo-wop cliche, IV > iv
Bruce Channel - Hey Baby (1962)
     doo-wop (Verse), COF (bridge),
Elvis Presley - Shake, Rattle And Roll (1956)
     three chords
The Everly Brothers - Rip It Up (1958)
     three chords
Eddie Cochran - C'mon Everybody (1959)
     three chords  
The Four Lads - Standing on the Corner (1956)
     bIII, bVII (?)
Buddy Holly - Everyday (1958)
     weak tonality in the bridge due to an unusual chain of fifths:
     ( I > ) IV > bVII > bIII > bVI ( > V > I )
Brian Poole & The Tremeloes - I Want Candy (1964)
     two chords: I-bVII vamping
Rick(y) Nelson - Travelin' Man (1961)
     iii , COF ( II > )
Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano (1954)
     short-lived modulation to the parallel Major key
The Crickets Feat. Buddy Holly - That'll Be The Day (1957)
     three chords
Johnny Preston - Feel So Fine (1961)
     two chords
The Searchers - When You Walk In The Room - (1964)
     iii
Helen Shapiro - Dont Treat Me Like A Child - (1961)
     V/V, key shift (+1/2)
Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock Around The Clock (1955)
     three chords
The Ventures - Telstar (1962)
     iii, key shift to IV
Shelley Fabares - Johnny Angel (1962)
     modulation to IV and back very similarly as in "From Me To You"
    (Beatles, 1963) and also "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (and "Honey Honey" by ABBA). Read more about this modulation thing:
groups.google.com
groups.google.com
The Safaris - Image Of A Girl
     doo-wop (Verse), iii
Chris Montez - Let's Dance (1962)
     three chords
Kalin Twins - When (1958)
     doo-wop (Verse), key shift (+1/2)
The Tielman Brothers - Java Guitars (196 )
     three chords
Buddy Holly & The Crickets - Not Fade Away (195?)
     2-3 chords, IV/IV
Frankie Avalon - A Boy Without A Girl (1959)
     bIII
Ben E King - Stand By Me (1961)
     doo-wop,
Elvis Presley - Return To Sender (1962)
     V/V



selected:
The Hilltoppers - P.S. I Love You (1953-1937)
     bVII, iii, COF.
Bobby Darin - 18 Yellow Roses (1963)
     bIII
Paul Anka - Lonely Boy (1959).
     Double plagal cadence, to date the earliest I could find.
     The IV is used here just passing chord.
Dee Clark - Raindrops (1961)
     IV > iii > ii > I descending "chord stream".
The Champs - Tequila (1958)
     bIII, bVII (or v7),
The Merseybeats - Fortune Teller (1963)
     bVII, bIII
Del Shannon - Runaway (1961)
     modulation between parallell keys, i > VII > VI > V cliche
Don Gibson - Oh Lonesome Me (1961)
     modulation (weak) to V and back
Joey Powers: The Nitty Gritty
 ii > iii > vi > V/vi > vi > V > I...
Caravelles: You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry
bVI, V > V+ > I

Warning: the feature-lists may be incomplete or wrong here an there.

to be continued


I've also checked eight Boddy Holly songs. The ones featuring "special" chords:
Boddy Holly - Weezer : iii
            - I'm Gonna Love You Too : bVII, iii
            - Peggy Sue: bVI
            - Well, All Right: bVII

an interesting link:
www.icce.rug.nl
6.PD 23 Apr 2003 09:42

This time I analyse songs from the Jethro Tull's album "Aqualung" (1971). Similarly to Queen Jethro Tull is also considered to be "semi-progressive" band or at least proggy, their's music is definitely a different shade of prog than Queen's. Their debut album was released as early as in 1968, which alone is a plus point for the fans of progressive rock who are fond of the late sixties.
As for the music:
Jethro Tull were definitely interested in harmonic and rhythmic tricks. One song would not characteritze them, the full album would take too much time to analyse, so I analyse onla the first three songs off the album.

1 Aqualung 6:31
meter: 4/4
key: g minor

 
| a' | Verse (AAAA)| Bridge 1 (BB'BB') | Bridge 2 (C B") |
| Bridge 1 (BB'BB') | Solo I (D) - II (EE'EE') | Bridge 1 (BB') |
| a' | Verse (AAAA) | outro (a'...)


The sections are tad repetitive becasue most of them repeat (with variants) the main figure / chord progression four times in a row. The verses with the returning main theme create a high level ABA structure with some dramatic and smooth changes.

Verse
This is in fact a chain of four verses that built upon an unique sounding riff.
This majestic riff sounds uniquely because the harmony is not functional: the riff tune (except the first measure) is harmonized in major triades. Note bassline first follows the riff, than changes to parallel fifths (plus octave). Additional guitar plays parellel major thirds from the second riff on. The rhythm is also tad disorienting.

figure A (sketch):

|  riff  | Db   | Eb   | F   | - Gb C# | Eb Gb | Gb B D |

the riff starts with a (blues-)pentatonic figure based on G.

The harmony and the phrasing during the rest of the song is more straightforward.


Bridge 1
A folk style balladistic bridge follows the verse accompanied by strummed acoustic guitar.
Similarly to the Verse, it can be considered to four times repeated section. The lead vocal is compressed, as it was fashionable in those days.

figure B:

| Gm   | F    | -    | C    |
| i    | VII  | -    | IV   |

| Cm   | Gm   | F    | -    |
| iv   | i    | VII  | -    |

The second and fourth time the figure is extended with an extra two measures to break the square phrasing. The arrangement is thickening by each repeatition. The only "chromatic" chord is the IV that changes to iv.


Bridge 2

The ballad changes to another Bridge with a harder and faster beat. Again this section is a chain of mini sections with varying chord progression.

The first (figure C) :
 
/--------- 2x -----------\
| Gm  |  F  | F   |  Gm  |  
| i   | VII |VII  |  i   |


the second (figure D reminiscent of figure B'):

| Gm   | F    | -    |  Gm  |
| i    | VII  | -    |  i   |

| Cm   | -    | F    | -    | -   | -   |
| iv   | -    | VII  | -    | -   | -   |

the third one is even closer to the B figure. In fact the Bridge 2 transforms slowly back to Bridge 1, only the tempo is faster, and the beat is harder.


Solo:

figure D (with half time feel):

| Gm  | F   | -   | C   |

| Cm7/Eb | Gm/D | F   | -   |


figure E (fast beat returns)

/--------- 2x ----------\
| Gm  | Eb  | F   | Gm  |
| i   | VI  | VII | I   |


in the figure E' the last F chord is prolonged (plus two measures)
 


Cross-Eyed Mary 4:09
meter: 4/4
key: e/G, (Ab)

Intro | Verse (AA) | Bridge (BB')|
           | Verse | Bridge | solo (Bridge) |
           | Verse | Bridge | outro |

The songform is relatively straightaway. The arrangement of the Intro and the mood is quite different from the rest of the song. I transcribe the song with "slow" beats.

Intro :
The harmony of the intro can be obtained as the combinations of the following things:
- stepwise rising bassline
- repeated flute figure
- repeated note progressions played on synth: E > D,  B > A
- piano chords


| Em/B | 7*  |
| i    

| Cmaj7| *   |
| VI

| G/D  | *   |
| III

| E5   |Bb/F |
| i    |bV   |

the second subsection starts similarly, but it's longer. Note the "foreign" chords (bV and bIV) and the tritone leaps, and the 3+3+2 rhythm figure in the last two measure.


/---- 2x ----\
| Em   | Bb  |
| i    | bV  |

| Cmaj7| G#  |
| VI   | bIV |

| D    | C   | -   |
| VII  | VI  | -   |


| Bb   | A   | Em  |
| bV   | IV  | i   |


Verse:
This is a double-phrase section. Note the doubletracked lead vocal.

/--------- 2x ----------\
| Em  | F   | G   | D/A |
| i   | bII | III | VII |


Bridge:

the first pharse is backed by a on measure riff/figure played four times. The second phrase repeats the first one halfstep higher, only the ending is different and added a halfmeasure figure (chosing a faster beat for the transcription would have resulted only in uneven phrase length).

The tonality is weak (G or a, then Ab or bb)

| Am  G | Am G | Am G | Am G |
 
                                   half
| Bbm Ab | Bbm Ab | Bbm Ab | C  D | B  |
                         e: VI VII  V  |

The solo: flute in the first phrase, guitar in the second.


Outro:
We could call it Bridge 2 becasue it almost functions like a Bridge in a ballad songform, except this section closes the song.

| Em   | C   | G5/D  | Am Bbm |
| i    | VI  |III-VII| iv bv  |

| Am Bbaddb5 | C  D  | esus4  ...|
| iv bV      | VI VII| i

 


Cheap Day Return 1:23
meter: 4/4
key: D/b
form: Intro I-II | Verse - outro |

It's a short folksy song with an relatively long intro. There's no repeated sections in the song only some close phrase-variants in the verse.


Intro:
I:
the guitar arpeggios use the 3+3+3+3+4 rhythm

/--------- 2x ----------\
| B57 | -   |Asus2| -   |

| B5  | -   | -   | -   || Bm ...

II:
Acoustic guitar figures without chordal backing.

..... | A   | -   | Bm  | -   |


Verse:
D: (b)
| G   | A   | D A/C# | Bm   |
| IV  | V   | I      | vi   |

| G   | A   | D   | E   |
| IV  | V   | I   | V/V |

| G   | A   | D A/C# | Bm  | A   | -   |
| IV  | V   | I      | vi  | V   | -   |

| G   | -   | D   | Bm  |
| IV  | -   | I   | vi  |

In measures 16-17 we have two conseutive pre-downbeat accents, very similar to (if not the same as) the "shifted accents". Try to count the 1/8 beats: 7+8+9 + 8....

The rest of the song is instrumental. Note the 3+5 pattern of accented quavers in measures 3 and 7.

| A   | -   | E A/C# |A/C#   |
| V   | -   |V/V V   | V     |

| A   | -   | E    Bm | Bm...
| V   | -   |IV/vi vi | vi
          b: IV     i | i


More album plans:
Pet Sounds, Joshua Tree, Abba Gold, L.Z. IV, Dark Side Of The Moon, ...

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