Friday 17 June 2011

12:35: Something Melodic (Something pt.3)

Last time we began asking how Something managed to become a songwriting classic when it's so odd structurally.

Taking a look at the melody only seems to deepen the mystery. Out of 45 notes in the verse, 38 are chord tones*. Normally having a melody consisting largely of chord tones is a recipe for boredom. Where's the tension and resolution? It's like watching the 24 hour paint dry channel.

Harrison gets away with it because the chord progression is filled with interesting extended (7ths and 9ths) chords as well as the usual out of key chords that we've come to expect in a Beatles song.

The extended chords are Cmaj7, C7, D7, Am maj7, Am7 and D9 and C7, D, D7, Am maj7, D9 and Eb are out of key. When the key changes to A major for the bridge G major becomes 'out' and if that wasn't enough atonal action the first descending run in the bridge is a chromatic figure (A, Ab, G, Gb, F, E).

So George gives us is a very odd, almost atonal melody, wrapped up in lush close fitting chords, which take the edge off any dissonance.

To finish with one very small example the melody starts on the root (C) then goes down to the maj 7th (B) and leaves us hanging on this unstable note for a whole bar. Then it drops to the b7 (Bb) which is both dissonant and out of key before resolving to the A which is the third of the F chord is lands on.

It's hard to get away with this kind of death defying melodic high wire act but Harrison pulls it off with style.

Next time we'll look at one element of the melody that ties together practically the whole song.

*Here's where the seven non-chord tones crop up.

The 'uh' of other lover
One note in the middle of the long 'woos me'
'I' and 'leave' in 'I don't want to leave'
'I' and 'leave' in 'you know I believe'
And the B natural release bend passing note in the mini solo.

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