MUS 210 Journal Week 2

 

29 June 2009

 

trailer for Beach Blanket Bingo

Film, A Hard Day’s Night, 1964.  Comments in lecture based on A Hard Days Night, Stephen Glynn, Turner Classic Movies British Film Guide, I.B. Tauris, London & New York, 2005, a short (102 pp.) guide to the film.

   

 30 June 2009

 

Song analysis notes – “A Hard Day’s Night” – what makes it rock?

Not blues, but blues elements.

 Interesting hybrid form combining a 12-bar AAB pattern with the more general AABA song form

A

 

 

A

 

 

B

 

A

 

 

a

a

b

a

a

b

c

 

a

a

b

4 bars

4

4

4

4

4

8

 

4

4

4

 

Harmony: Similar to blues; instead of using the I, IV & V chords, the closely related I, IV and bVII (“flat seven”) chords are used in the A section.  The very bluesy flatted seventh scale degree is prominently heard in the melody on the second syllable of “workin’” (“and I’ve been workin’ like a dog”).  (This is on the note F; the melody descends a riton to a B, also reinforcing the bluesy “dominant seventh” sonority.) 

The harmony in the B section is very much unlike the blues, featuring the use of the minor iii and vi chords . 

Text painting examples.  The second time the word “home” is used in the B section, the chord is the I chord (G) and sounds very much like the home chord (tonic), which it definitely is!  Another text painting example is the setting of the word “tight” on a high note that is apt to be produced with a sound of vocal strain or effort, and thus sound “tight.”  It is also on a note in the melody that clashes with the underlying chord (an A clashing against the Bb in a C7 chord). 

Other good comments in class concerned tempo (fast), rhythm (active, busy, dense; duple subdivision) and the variety of guitar sounds.

“If I fell”

The song’s seemingly simple harmony is actually complex, something to discover if you try to sing along with the introduction.  The harmonic complexity is not just there for its own sake; it is expressive text painting.  The opening chords sink chromatically (“fall”) and the surprising twists and turns of the harmony seem to reflect the hesitation of the prospective lover singing the lyrics.  Another nice text painting detail in the harmony is the shift from major to minor on the word “pain” in the B section.

The form is very simple: 8 bar introduction, then AABA, but with slightly irregular phrase lengths.  The A idea is basically 9 bars long, but has 1 extra bar at the end in the first statement.  At the end of the second statement of A, this extra bar is elided into the 7 bar B phrase. 

As noted in class (thanks Ben!), the texture of the two voices is distinctive.  The two voices, although nicely blending in terms of their timbre, are easily heard as two separate voices because they are widely spaced at times and at times move in contrary motion. 

After those early songs (1964), the Beatles encounter Dylan, the Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds, drugs, and their own artistic growth in creating their Revolver album, all leading to à

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band

Powerpoint presentation in large pdf format (best for viewing on a computer) or pdf handout format (6 slides per page, best for printing, but the font on the lyrics is pretty small)

 

1 July 2009

 

SPLHCB continued

Bob Dylan (official website)

Lyrics for The Times they are a Changin’.  See Garofalo p. 178.

Lyrics for A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall

 

2 July 2009

 

Dewey Cox Dylan parody (from a comedy film & “biopic” parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, 2007)

 

Folk music – non-commercial music of a cultural group – versus “folk music” a marketing category/musical genre of the late 1950s-1960s rooted in the folk music of Appalachia, the mountains in the eastern part of the US. 

“Folk music” genre traits

·         ACOUSTIC guitar, harmonica, string bass, banjo

·         Singable ‘sing-along’ melodies

o   Modest range, middle register

o   Simple harmony for support

o   Few leaps or gaps in the melody

o   Slow to moderate tempo

·         Form – repetitive, strophic

·         Lyrics –

o   often narrative (telling a story) (ballad)

o   often political

Kingston Trio “Tom Dooley” as Vincent said, “hillbilly doo wop” – far from hillbillies!  College/middle class audience

Pete Seeger, “Bring Them Home” 1969.  political sing-along

Dylan goes electric, because, after all, he is as restless  . . .

“Like a Rolling Stone”  6 minutes long!

Lyrics can be enjoyed for a specific meaning that they convey, or for their potential production of meaning by the listener.

See Garofalo comments on authenticity, p. 176, 185.

Meanwhile, back in pop music . . .

The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations” 1966. 

·         Notable use of a variant of the Therimin, an electronic instrument.  (the Wikipedia article has some problems but is a useful quick introduction). 

·         Note different sections and the strongly varied TEXTURES; the form seems rather open.  Very unlike the predictable form in a Motown classic . . .

The Supremes, “Stop! In the Name of Love”, 1965.  See Garofalo p. 173.  The layering of sound is more interesting than the form. 

Note use of Vibraphone (very long Wikipedia article on the Vibraphone, with many helpful pictures).

 

 

David Meckler

 

Histories of Popular Music and Rock (MUS 210) main webpage

 

Webpages for music classes

 

Cañada College