I wasn’t expecting to find all that much to explore in this week’s song, “Since u Been Gone,” performed by Kelly Clarkson. It’s just a little pop song. It’s not supposed to make me wrestle with which aspect of it will be best to focus on for a lesson. It’s not supposed to have “aspects.”
I was wrong. There’s plenty to dive into. Enough that Rick Beato published a “What Make’s This Song Great,” for “Since U Been Gone” about a month ago. (And hat’s off to Rick, he transcribed the chords better than the published transcription I found). Which is all to say, don’t sleep on Kelly Clarkson, or songwriters Max Martin and Dr. Luke.
This week we arrive at #483 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest songs, White Rabbit, by Grace Slick, (performed by Jefferson Airplane). Without going through the list, I don’t know if I’d have looked at this song’s structure , and there’s a lot that’s really cool going on here.
It is inspired as much by the music of Ravel’s Bolero and Miles’s “Sketches of Spain” as by Alice in Wonderland. Musically the moves it makes be could analyzed through the lens of more classic theory, (it uses the flamenco scale which also has the scary name Phrygian dominant), or plain old Rock ’n Roll. If I were to pull it apart thoroughly, I’d probably fill five or six sheets talking about the scales and modulations.
BEAD Guides Chord Flow does a quick and dirty job of looking at relationships between its chords though. The moodiness the switching between two chords which are a fret apart on the guitar, (F# & G). The more tense rush of skipping over a chord in BEAD Guides Chord Flow rather than simply moving to a neighbor, (G to A, & C to D)
Which is all to say, as a music nerd, this was a fun song to look at.
It was about a week ago I removed my browser from my phone. (It’s an iPhone, so in reality Safari is still hiding in there somewhere).
What this means in practice, is that instead of reading political news in spare moments when boredom threatens, I read “The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles” by Dominic Pedler. If you’re willing to wade through a bit of music theory jargon, it’s a great book, which, goes through The Beatles catalog principle by principle and song by song, unpacking what’s going on in their music.
A problem is, it doesn’t seem to be in print any more. (I’m reading it through Scribd.com). But maybe your library is cool and has a copy.
This week we arrive at #485 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs list which is “Lady Marmalade” by “LaBelle.”
It’s got amazing groove, and is catchy as all get out. I spent a chunk of Tuesday morning learning the bass line on my acoustic. But the coolest part about it from my perspective is the bridge, that wanders over into E flat major. That’s the relative major not of the center chord, Gm, but its right neighbor, Cm. That’s a pretty bold move.
I’ve been excited about this week for a while. David Bowie’s “Young Americans” is a a favorite of mine. I’ve seen it looming out there at number 486 on Rolling Stone’s list for the past few weeks. I can’t say exactly why it hits the spot for me. It just does. There are so many things going on in this song that can’t be covered in a single page. Take some time and check it out. And Enjoy!
(I’ve been writing a book about how guitar chords work)
(That means I’m just plain old writing about how music works, using guitar chords).
In January and into February I woke most mornings to scrawl away for 20 minutes to an hour hashing out ideas. In mid-March I joined a little workshop called Writing in Community. Since then I’ve been up early every weekday doing layout work for the book.
I’m really excited about sharing this work, which I’ll start doing soon. If you’re following the sheets I post weekly you’ll recognize the principles of BEAD Guides Chord Flow I explain in the book. The book will simply gather it all in a more organized and complete fashion with a binding. It’s all coming in the near-ash future.
In the meantime, here’s this weeks prompt and musical idea.