Thursday, 7 July 2011

12:40 The End Of Something (Something pt.7)

Pop quiz – what the first instrument* you hear on Something? OK. Carry on ...

We're on the home straight with this motherlode of Beatles songwriting – two more posts to go. We'll also take a closer look at a chord progression which crop up in at least four other Beatles songs, but for now lets clear up all the other cool little songwriting odds and ends.

The End

We've already come across a ticket called the picardy third. That's where you have a song in the minor key but you finish on the major instead. This was widely used in Baroque music. But here we keep resolving to A major instead of the expected C major. That's major 6 (VI). It's worth filing away for future reference, because though Something doesn't end on the VI, And I Love Her does, and so does Lately by Stevie Wonder (Ticket 46).

Speaking of the ending – there's another cool idea here - using a false ending (Ticket 47). At the end of the 3rd verse it looks like Harrison is coming in to land, but tricks us by going to A instead of C (2:46), before he immediately loops around and comes in to land.

We have a minor example of an intro made out of another part of the song (see Ticket 4), in this case the end of the verse. I call this the school hymn intro as this is generally cranked out by elderly pianists during dreary school assemblies. The outro is cut from the same cloth.

Micro Recycling

As we said in the last post the fact that Harrison used (at least initially) the same two chords at the beginning of the verse and the bridge constitutes a micro recycling of themes (Ticket 9)

The wide vibrato used at 2:03 – 2:06 of the song mimics the crazy vibrato on George's voice on the line She woos me, aka She woo-ooo-ooo-ooos me (0:22). (BTW that solo was cut live with the string section. No pressure. Well done George).

Ringo's opening sextuplet tom fill* (did you get the right answer?) alludes to the hi hat part in the bridge (starting 1:17). These are the only places sextuplets are used. They really shouldn't fit. And yet they do.

Busy but beautiful

Does McCartney overplay on the track? Probably. But the fills in verse 3 (2:18, 2:37) are beautiful. And his BVs, though plain old ordinary 3rds, contribute to the wonderful lush sound.

Remember the 3 over 4 hemiola from Here Comes The Sun, The End etc? (Ticket 29) here it is again – in the bridge's descending bass line at 1:24 and 1:38.

Lastly, why are we so strongly drawn to the final verse C chord that we never really get? Not only do we have the descending line that leads down to a C but the last three notes of the lead guitar are an ascending line A A# B, It's a beautiful example of contrary motion (Ticket 12) - all roads lead to C major.

Next time I'm hoping to dust off the video camera...



  1. This has been so interesting, and makes me worry about my idea of doing something similar, because I don't think that I could be as thorough as yourself.

    I love the mention of Stevie Wonder's Lately, which itself is a great song.

    I am so looking forward to the next post. :-)

  2. Thanks so much Marv - if it feels like something you really want to do you should go for it. I've learned a lot as I've gone on - check out my first song - I basically say "it's so simple it should be rubbish, but it's not and I've no idea why!" hardly revelatory...

    Lately is a great song. And Stevie Wonder is a great musician.

    BTW - I dream of doing other projects - Motown Songwriting Academy...hum...but I gotta finish this thing.

    Just keep swimming...Just keep swimming...

  3. I don't know about that ascending part on the lead guitar would count as contrary motion since it's not contrasting to anything because the bass and organ seems to follow the ascending melodic line as well.