Friday, June 28, 2013

Paul and Linda McCartney - "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" (1971)

There's an octave and a half stepwise run in the first part of this song that looks like this:

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All is well when it lands on A (the fifth of the D chord) for the downbeat of the last bar, but it's a bit of a bumpy journey to get there. The offending note is the D over the C chord on the strong third beat of the previous measure. Listen to this on the recording and you will hear how dissonant it sounds.

It certainly took some discipline to sing this whole passage correctly. How it might have been composed is an interesting question.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Beatles - "P.S. I Love You" (1962)

What's what here? I'm going to disagree with Allan Pollack and analyze the structure as follows:

A - "As I write this letter" etc.
B1 - "Treasure these few words" etc.
B2 - "I'll be coming home" etc.
A' - "As I write this letter" etc. with slightly different chord progression
B1 - see above
A' - see above
B2 - see above (with added coda)

I have a tendency to think that A and B work together as two parts of a chorus. The B2 section seems to suggest otherwise, though, as the idea of a chorus with two parts where the second part is then repeated with new words feels like we are stretching the definition.

Can the B section really be considered a verse, though? It consists of only a single pair of rhyming lines and then the refrain of the title words. ("Refrain" tends to imply chorus or at least some suggestion of chorus to my thinking.)

The A section is certainly not a verse. It has the same words in each of its three utterances. Even though it ends with a perfect authentic cadence, it doesn't feel complete enough to be a chorus in and of itself. It's only eight bars long and consists of four lines of text with one rhyme (lines two and four).

Every time it's heard, it's followed by the B section (either B1 or B2). If B is indeed the second part of the chorus, then we are looking at a song here that is, in fact, all chorus.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Wings - "Listen to What the Man Said" (1975)

Sometimes, a given harmony can only be said to be a suggestion, a color that exists apart from a chord's function. The B sung in the verse here over the D major chord really makes the harmony in the first bar a B minor seventh. Nevertheless, the arrangement is grounded in D in the bass and the feeling is one of a dominant harmony, albeit with some kind of coloration.

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In the second bar, of course, the B implies a C major seventh harmony.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Martha and the Vandellas - "I'm Ready for Love" (1966)

Here's another one that falls in the "How did they memorize this?" category. Actually, it's only true of the lyrics, which you'd imagine were sung off of a lyric sheet. It would certainly be remarkable to learn that they did this one live!

What's difficult to remember? The verse in the song is 32 bars long. And there's three of them.

Seventy words in the first verse, seventy-one in the second, and sixty-seven in the third, all different. If she was memorizing this stuff, then Martha Reeves was ready for Shakespeare next.