Friday 30 April 2010

The Minor 4 Chord (pt.2)

From the 4 (IV) to the minor 4 (iv)

Last time we had an introduction to the minor 4 chord (iv), now lets take a look at where the Beatles use it in their own songs. First a couple in the key of A

In My Life – verse I, V, IV, iv, I

There are A places E I remember all my D life Dm though A some have changed

You Won’t See Me – verse I, I7, IV, iv, I

A we have A7 lost the D time that Dm was hard to A find

I Call Your Name is in the key of E and the end of the verse goes II, IV, iv, I

I never F#7 weep at night A I Am call your name E7

When I’m Sixty Four is in C – verse I, I7, IV, iv, I,

C If I ‘d been out till quarter to three C7 would you lock the F door
Will you still Fm need me C will you still…

(Though they sound nothing like each other the sequence in When I'm Sixty Four is exactly the same as You Won’t See Me)

Hello Goodbye is also in C – Chorus IV, iv, I

I don’t know F why you say good - Fm/Ab – bye I say hel—C – lo

(Notice the iv here is in the first inversion, with the Ab in the bass rather than the F. It’s still the minor 4 though).

Lastly Blackbird is in G – verse IV, iv, I

All you C life Cm G/B you were only waiting for this moment

(Almost all McCartney songs! Hmmm….)

There are a few other songs that hint at this change – the chord pops up in Dear Prudence’s main guitar pattern, as a passing chord in Her Majesty (thought it may be a mistake) and on the ‘unreleased’ What’s The New Mary Jane?

They used it. So can You!

This progression has cropped up a lot post-Beatles too. Oasis used it (surprised? – me neither) in Don’t Look Back In Anger

F so I start a revo Fm lution in my C head
Cos you F said the brains I Fm had went to my C head

And Green Day’s - Wake Me Up When September Ends is another example.

C wake me up Cm when September G ends

Next time we’ll look at songs where the Beatles use the minor 4 (iv) alongside the minor 6 (vi).

1: Introduction
2: Major 4 to minor 4
3: Minor 6 to minor 4
4: Minor 2 to minor 4
5: 1 to minor 4 

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  1. A few others that I can think of ...

    Across The Universe
    Nowhere Man
    I'm So Tired
    If I Fell
    Hold Me Tight
    I'll Follow The Sun
    What Goes On
    Magical Mystery Tour
    She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

    It's also used in World Without Love

    It's funny that you mention Paul's usage. For whatever reason I associate the minor 4 chord with John (In My Life, Anytime At All, Bungalow Bill are covered your Part 3 blog post). But, I think it's evenly distributed between both John and Paul's writing.

    One of the great Beatle cliches is the I6 ending (major 6th tonic). But, nothing Beatles-up a song like using the Minor 4th chord.

    1. Great term, "Beatles-up". Don't make me come down there and Beatle-up you lot!

  2. yeah the She Loves You 6th is so instantly recognisable I haven't dared to use it in my own songs (other than for a knowing wink at the audience) but i can't stop using m4s ever since I picked them up from the Fabs

  3. Great site! This will make my next songwriting project much easier. Can't wait to dig in!

  4. Happy to hear it Jeff - there's a full list of tickets to write here

  5. Indeed Matt, this blog is a delight for the songwriter.

    Another famous post-Beat example would be Creep by Radiohead...


    1. Thanks Lee - you're spot on - I'll add it to the list!

  6. "Unreleased Pile of Garbage" is my favorite Beatles album.