Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jethro Tull - "Inside" (1970)

Because the intro is ten bars long and the links between verses are six and neither of those is divisible by four.

Because the chorus is traditional in a way that the verses are not and you don't expect the rock and roll, but they bring it!

Because the verses are four bars with two lines that rhyme, followed by five bars with two lines that don't (one long, one short).

Because the chorus is a bar of six and two bars of four, repeated three times, but it's not over. The traditional stuff sweeps it away, but even that is nuanced, with a plagal cadence.

Because they only give you the chorus once.

Because they give you SIX verses.

Because it's pretty much a three-chord song.

Because it's in the mixolydian mode.

Because that voice (and the harmonies on the chorus).

Because they sound like Can and Neu!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

R.E.M. - "Pilgrimage" (1983)

I'm counting fourteen different structural events that happen in this song. Let's look at what they are.

There's a fourteen second intro consisting of the chorus melody sung over just the bass. The song proper then begins with vamping on the verse riff as a lead-in to verse number one.

The part consisting of the lines "Your brown eyes" etc. seems to suggest a new segment, but then the chorus itself, "Take a turn" etc., sounds like a new entity once again. Call the "Your brown eyes" part a pre-chorus perhaps.

Verse number two follows, then the pre-chorus, chorus, and...what's this? Oh yes. Make that G chord a dominant like it certainly can be in an F-C-G progression and, boom, you've got a route into an entirely new, second chorus - a chorus delayed through two buildups and finally attained at 2:16.

Repeats of the second verse, pre-chorus, chorus, second chorus, and there's even a little bridge in there before they vamp on the first chorus a couple of times to wrap it up. It's the longest song on Murmur. ("Shaking Through" has been listed as two seconds longer, but that includes the little snatch of instrumental song sequenced between it and "We Walk.")

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lesley Gore - "Maybe I Know" (1964)

Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich again.

Starts with the chorus (vocals on first downbeat, no intro). When you get to the first verse, though, it modulates to a different key. This construction sounds more like a bridge, really, but only for the first four bars. The second four bars are back in the home key, but it's not just a way of finishing the verse but instead this sudden back and forth between the tonic and IV chords that turns out to be as integral a moment to the song as the chorus, complete with harmony vocals.

Chorus, really, had moved from D minor to the relative major (F) and the end of the verse confirms this by landing on A major as a dominant chord leading back to D minor when the chorus starts again. Bridge does this, too. This song is full of gold.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Merle Haggard - "If We Make It Through December" (1973)

How was this song written? Did he just ignore the question of where he was at any given point and let the exposition go on over four sections, one minute and thirty-nine seconds, as it pleased to suit the poetry?

Because you seem to start with the chorus, but it evolves over four lines as though it were a verse. And then there's another one, with new words. Two choruses to start a song?

That would seem to be the case. The next section ("Got laid off down at the factory" etc.) is a verse proper. Notice how it uses the harmonic vocabulary of the part of the chorus that sounded like a verse!

This section has an extension that turns out to be a bridge. That's clever placement but perhaps cleverer still is the fact that it turns out NOT to be exploratory, quickly returning to the haunting progression you'll hear a couple more times when he repeats the two choruses.