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Analyzing the Chords from George Harrison's "Something" - Perfect

This is the second chord analysis video I've done, the first being Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man", which was also conveniently in C and contains many similar elements to this progression. One bit of music theory and composition I forgot to mention in this video is the lovely movements that occur within the Eb-G/D-C change. In addition to the borrowed chord interpretation, there is a lot analyze just with the moving voices. The beginning of this song is essentially the bass playing down the notes of the C Minor scale beginning from the 4th (F, Eb, D, C), yet our song is firmly in the key of C Major. In addition, the change from Eb to G/D gives nice contrary motion, with the high Eb resolving down a halfstep to D, while Bb resolves upward a halfstep to B, before the conclusion to C Major. 

Transcription

Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

In 1969 The Beatles released the song something on the White Album. The song is primarily written by George Harrison. And in my opinion, it is a perfect progression. So what I want to do in this video is really deeply analyzed each chord in the song and try to figure out a little bit about why it works so well and why it sounds so good why compliments those lyrics so well to do this. We're going to rely on a little bit of the music theory that I've taught here on this channel, and I'm also going to introduce a few new Concepts that we haven't discussed here before now there is a lot to get to in the song. So I'm just going to start right off by playing the first First four chords and singing The Melody. I'm not that great of a vocalist. I'm going to drop the melody down an octave so I can actually keep up with it. It sounds something like this something.

Attracts me like no other lover simple stuff right for little cords are I gotta C major C major 7 a C7 and an F major and there's a lot we have to talk about with just these four little cords here. The first obvious thing here is the chromaticism in my C major.

I have a c-note and a half step below C is the note B that occurs in my C major 7 chord a half step below. B is B flat and that's in a C7 chord and then a half step below that would be a so I've got that natural chromaticism.

Occurring through those four chords right there that kind of descending sliding falling feeling right there. And I really want you to associate that with the lyrics to and try to understand, you know, this is a Love Song and these first few lyrics it's just that kind of sedative almost like drugged a fact of you know, euphoric just sinking back in your seat. That's the impression I get from from that chord progression just naturally all on its own even without the lyrics but you can guess how well this kind of chord progression will Implement lyrics about something as like a love song like this is I also brought up this whole concept in my Beach Boys video, which is on Kokomo. It's an older video but it starts almost the same. It starts with a C major a C major 7 and then a G minor instead.

There's a B-flat in that chord to and then it takes you to F. So the same effect they're still get that descending chromaticism.

Just threw two different mechanisms here were using a secondary dominant chord c 7 is the dominant chord of f so, I'm thinking Of this as a c-major my tonic.

Still my tonic chords to C. Major 7 this I think of is the 5 of my for a secondary dominant built off the four chord to take me to my Fork.

Where's in Kokomo that G minor was just a borrowed chord. We had just borrowed that from the parallel minor. So same kind of effect here just subtly different. It's also important to note that really these first three measures is just a C major Triad with a Melody that's descending underneath it. And this is commonly referred to as a line cliche when you have a steady Triad.

And you have a Melody that either goes down and stepwise motion doesn't have to be chromatic. It just has to go down in steps or up in steps and that's known as a line cliche. We hear that quite a bit in different compositions. We're actually gonna see it a little bit later on here in this exact same song and a different context, but just to show you an example of what a line cliche might be in a different variation. What if I was on a C major and I went to a sea at nine. I still have my C major Triad intact, but my melody is lifted up now. Let's bring in like a Part 9 or a flat 3 for that ugly unresolved feeling right there. And if that was your Melody you can actually make that work see d flat panel so that's another example of what a lion cliche might sound like just in the opposite direction. Now, we're only going to tackle the next two chords here, right? We just went from C C major 7 c 7 to F now. We're going to a D7 something and if you see this D7 came out of the middle of nowhere, right? It's definitely not in the key of C.

But anytime I see a seventh chord that's out of key. I ask myself is a secondary dominant.

Is the dominant chord of a chord that's in my key in the answer is yes D7 is the dominant chord of G.

And there it is functioning as like a regular secondary dominant taking me to my G chord, so nothing too fancy there, but I want to think about the chromaticism that occurs here, right? We just were on an F which has a natural f in it and then we went to a D7 which has an F sharp and at that's a half step above and then we went to a g which is a half step above that. Right? So we've got this ascending chromaticism now something It's us and I think if you contrast that with we would just add right we had the descending right that's sliding kind of sedative that Blissful kind of euphoric Romanticism. Now, we've got a little bit of almost anxiety, maybe something that something new is about to occur.

You know, what's the next step of this story? We don't really know it's taking us somewhere and it's a little uncertain where it's going to take us yet. And I think that's a really cool trip where they're playing us here come from this F chromatically ascending to It's a burden to the G.

We're set up for a c-major landing.

Right jeez wants to take us to see but they're not going to give you the c major we go from Africa we go from D7 to G to a minor for I don't want to leave her now.

And that would be like a deceptive Cadence right there resolving to the six instead of to my one and it's helpful to think of this next part of the progression as kind of being in the key of A minor. I know a minor in C major the same thing, but let's just pretend for example that We're in the key of A minor and then this is our tonal Center what we're going to get now for the next part of the song. Is that a minor and a minor major seven an A Minor 7 and then a D9 and if I look at that in the key of A minor I see myself just thinking of another line cliche here. I am on my tonic and then I'm still maintaining my A Minor triad. I'm just adding in a note below my tonic which is a flat and then I'm going down another half step to a g.

So this note just went from A to G sharp to G A Minor A minor major seven a minor 7 and then in my D9 there's also an F sharp. So I've got more Chrome at us' MM again in this part of the song.

So the only three sections we've learned here are just chromatics steps down now chromatics that chromatic steps up and then chromatic steps back down and you would never really guess it just on your first listen that all of that weird little side-by-side stuff is occurring through there and I really think it's Subconsciously what gives this chord progression so much of its you know so much of that great feeling that that emotional roller coaster you're going up you're going down. There's some uncertainty there's some you know some anxiety. There's some Bliss there. It's really wonderful. So if I was in the key of A minor, it's pretty easy to think of this D9 as being borrowed from like a Dorian right that being the major for cord right there, but we've already seen that this D7 and it's pretty close to being a D9 right D7 was functioning as a secondary dominant before and it took me to G hear my D9 is not going to function. As a secondary dominant it's going to just take me to an F chord instead and I that's why I like to think of it as just being like a little bit of a Dorian but it's the same thing you can think of it either way a lot of the things, you know, get a little blurry here and they can't be heavily defined one way or the other. So if you want to look at this, D as being a borrowed two chord sure you can think of it as being borrowed from the parallel lydian. You can think of it as a secondary dominant me. I'm thinking of us as temporarily being in a minor and then that D9 just being like going to the four Gordon Dorian giving me a little bit of that Dorian brightness, but now we've got the turnaround and this is actually how the song starts I skip the intro but this turnaround is really funky. There's there's a lot to try to explore here in our little turnaround. It's got the surprising little nature to it. So the turnaround here after my D9 is an F major chord to an E flat major to a g over D and then back to C. So that progression again goes like this F E flat G over D Casino.

And what's going on here while the F makes sense? That's my natural four chord, right?

And then the E-flat is way out of key who knows where E flat comes from and we're in the key of C. How does the E flat major chord relate to their while it's a chromatic Beauty and it's a minor third away. It could be borrowed from C minor if you think about the the chords and C minor well E flat is in there so we could think of that as a borrowed cord and I honestly think that's our best bet to interpret it as imagine. If I drop the e flat completely all I'd be left with IS F G c right which is just 4 for 5 1 f 2 F and the end that's a 4-5-1.

It seems like that's what we're doing here, except we've interrupted it with an E flat. We've interrupted it with a borrowed chord. So instead of just doing for four or five one we did for and then we had this weird borrowed chord E flat and then to my five board to resolve to 1 so so my theory here is if all we got to do is just stick a borrowed chord in between my 4-5-1 then we should be able to get some similar sounding effects out of that. So let's try it. Another borrowed cord from C minor would be a flat right A flat major.

So let's do the same thing. Let's Sub in and a flat major and hear what it sounds like. So instead of f to E flat now. I'm going to go f to a flat and you hear that actually sounds pretty nice. It's a different effect.

But it has a very similar effect.

Right?

Let's take a look at another chord. I could borrow from C minor and C minor I could borrow B flat major.

So now let's go from F to B flat major to G and then to see all right, and if I do that in a slightly different voicing, it'll probably sound pretty good. Listen f So here's that same kind of concept that I just stole from the song. Hey, let's take a 4-5-1, but really quickly before you get to that five throw in some goofy borrowed Court something out of key and the four five one will still preserve itself. It's still such a strong Cadence that you don't it seems like you could get away with with murder right there because that four five one is still going to hold itself together. I'm really curious to find out how many other cords you could stick in there and still have it work. So that entire thing is going to repeat all the way through except at the very end. Our turn around doesn't resolve to see It resolves to a which is very unexpected and I can't tell you exactly where that kind of modulation comes in. We were in the key of C. Now. We're in the key of A and that's a pretty drastic change. We went down a minor 3rd to a brand new key and that's not common. I can't find you any other examples off the top of my head of where you just modulate down a minor 3rd pretty pretty unique and I like the effect of it but what's cool is once that a major get there you just settle in at home. Now a major is our new key. So let's take a look at this next section starting on a a a major to C sharp minor over G sharp F sharp minor a over E.D.

Then a g and then an a with this funny chromatic base descent the lyrics are you stick around now it may show and I don't know.

So what we're going to be doing here is in the key of a right we started on our tonic chord A and We're going to be doing what is commonly referred to as a lament base. The base is just going to go down and it's going to go all the way down until it reaches our fifth. So it's going down a full for that goes down from a and then we're going to go down to G sharp is our natural seventh. We're going to go down to F sharp or natural six and then down to e that's what's happening on our base a G-sharp F-sharp.

Sharp sharp and the chords that can supplement that are a major.

There is a G-sharp in my natural three chord, right? So I took my natural three chord, which is C sharp minor. We plop the G sharp on the base that helps provide that base movement down going to my six chord keeping it in root position and that gives me the positioning there and then back to my tonic chord A major but we put an e on the base and that helps me play these three simple chords A c-sharp.

A short minor an A but it sounds different because of the base movement over G sharp to C sharp minor has F sharp minor and then a overeat.

So it's a really nice way to spice up some boring Bland diatonic chords. There's nothing special about a major C sharp minor and F sharp minor but the base movement there that kind of keeping that lament base idea gives it this nice fluidity and really reinforces this a major tonality now that we're finally into it. However, we're going to break the a major tonality here. A little bit we go to our diatonic four chord, which is a d which takes us straight to a G major and G major is not in the key of A, I think of it as just being the flat 7 chord as being borrowed from like a mixolydian or being borrowed from a minor but that flat 7 chord that G major really take you back to your tonic really? Well, it's called a backdoor resolution instead of coming from like a 5-2 your one we're coming from our flat 7 to R1 and it resolves very, well. Here's an a major and coming from G.

A feels at home.

So to me, this is a little splash of mixolydian when I see an a major a d and a g resolving to a I think of a mix of lydian, but you can parse it. However you want you can think of it as just being a borrowed cord or being at just a backdoor resolution right there. Now this whole section repeats, but after we go through our lament base after we go through our borrowed chord with the G.

It doesn't resolve to a it resolves to see and G was the five of C. So G should pull me to see and it does here but it's very unexpected. And I think it's so unexpected.

It's hard to imagine us going into the key of C, but they just do it. They just start right back over going over the old chord progression again starting in the key of C, and it's very abrupt when you get it the first time but you sink into it very very well. Once those cords start coming back and you start hearing that chromatic descent. Again, that c major tonality is very familiar. It seems very you're very Glad to be back home at C major after you go through this a major thing and it's not like it's tense. It's not like it's really ridden with anxiety. It's just so different than that comfortability of the c major home base that we had before. It's a funny welcome home to finally land back in there. So really that's the entire song. The only thing we haven't talked about is the very outro which is the same thing we've seen before that F major to an E flat to G over D to a and then they just go right back to the turn around again for F B flat. That g over D and then C to finally resolve on our tonic now that we've gone through all this work. I want to talk a little bit about why we do this kind of work. I know there's a lot of comments. I got a lot of comments on here. You're not supposed to analyze music you're supposed to feel it. And yeah, that's true. You are supposed to feel music, but I want to talk about this idea about not analyzing music. You know, I'm not as good of a songwriter is George Harrison. I know that's hard to believe but it's true and it's very helpful to look at what the pros did and see how it all works. You know, it's like if I want to become a good chef Let's say your grandmother makes a really good mincemeat pie and I decide what I want to make a good mincemeat pie. It's not a good idea for me to go to the kitchen to start throwing things together and just start feeling it. Right. It would be very beneficial to maybe like analyze one of grandmas mincemeat pies first and see what was actually in it or maybe ask for her recipes or see what she did, you know, you know see what ingredients she uses now grandma might not be a professional chef grandma might not even know what she's doing. She might just be working off of instinct, but she's been making mincemeat pies for like 50 years and I made it in like Zero of them. So it's really not helpful to tell people. Oh, you're supposed to just feel this. You're not supposed to analyze it. Well if I analyze what he's doing it makes me a better musician I get better insight into what ingredients he was using and you know how he was able to assemble the whole mincemeat pie. I could do the for 50 years. I could just experiment for 50 years and just try to get the experience out of it that way but I find that of pretty inefficient way to learn things so much more helpful to stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from those people who really went through this path. Before you now just a quick note this guitar here. You may not have recognized. It is a custom guitar from GTR Technologies.

These are some guys that got a hold of me from Spring Grove, Illinois, really nice guys, and they let me borrow this for a little while. I'm releasing a new acoustic track here pretty soon and I wanted to use this for it. So thanks to them for letting me borrow this here for a while. You can check out their website in my description. There's some links below. So I hope you enjoyed this video. I hope you learned something and I hope it got you thinking about chords and Harmony a little bit better. If you did like this video you can thank my very patient patreon supporters for making it possible without them. These videos wouldn't exist. Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.

 





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