FORM Intro-Verse-Verse-Bridge-Verse-Bridge-Verse-Outro (complete ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
- An unusual and creative formal touch here is the way that the intro turns out to be a subtle variation of the bridge.
- The strangest chord of all in the song is the dominant 7th chord on C#, employed in the intro as a surrogate 'V'. The naturally ocurring chord on C# in the key of D is a *diminished* seventh chord and *that* VII chord works nicely as a substitute V because it is the sonic equivalent of the V7 chord with the root note missing. In modifying the C# diminished chord into a dominant 7th, the Boys throw us a curve ball in that you'd sooner expect the latter chord to resolve to the key of F#. Against all textbook rules and logic, they rely on the stepwise movement of all voices (C# -> D, E# -> F#, G# ->A, and B -> A) to make it "work". Still, coming right at the beginning as it does, it's an attention grabber.
- In addition to the chord choices, we find that several of the chord *progressions* in this song are unsual. We're used to finding in the typical early Beatles song such as ISHST, the pervasive influence of I-VI-V sorts of chord progressions which convey a strong sense of directed kinetic motion that is the musical equivalent of Hemingway's much celebrated use of transitive verbs. Here, in PSILY, we find two different types of unusual chord progressions.
- The first unusual type of progression is called a "chord stream", characterized by sliding, stepwise root movement from chord to chord. In the verse section, we find I->ii->I, and flat-VI->flat-VII->I as examples. This is a technique is most closely associated with either early 20th century Impressionism or Jazz and it happens to break one of the standard old-fashioned rules against using parallel octaves and fifths between chords. Aesthetically, it suggests a languid sensuality.
- The second unusual type of progression is called a "deceptive cadence", characterized by the V (dominant) being followed by something other than the I chord. In the verse section, yet again, we find examples of the V being resolved in one case to the plain vi chord, and later on to the flat-VI. Aesthetically, it suggests a last minute retreat from coming to closure; a musical approach/avoidance.
- The vocal arrangement presents Paul in the solo spotlight with a particular style of backing vocal from John and George. Though the backing part persists virtually all the way through, there is more interesting detail to it than initially meets the eye.
- Note, for example, how in all verses except the last one, the backers sing behind isolated words only, making for a musically italic/bold effect. In the last verse, yet again to avoid foolish consistency, this effect is dropped in favor of their singing all the way through with Paul.
- Similarly in the second bridge, we have the successive interjections by solo voices in between the phrases for the sake of some colorful variety.
- The following piece of triva is usually eclipsed by the "Love Me Do" story, but it should be noted that it is Andy White (again) on the drums in this song; poor Ringo plays only the maracas.
-------------- 3X -------------- |G C# |D |D A |D | D: IV VII 7 I V I #5 #3
- By the way, this is yet another convergent start away from the home key. The singers come right in on the first beat, without a cue.
"Treasure these few words ...." "Keep all my love ..." <------ phrase #1, 3 measures --------><- phrase #2, 2 measures -> |D |e |D |A |b | I ii I V vi "P.S I love you ...." "You, you, you ...." <--- phrase #3, 2.5 measures ---><--- phrase #4, 2.5 measures ---> |A |B-flat |- - - C |D |- | V flat VI flat VII I
- Articulation of the phrasing is nicely aided by the harmony with its multiple deceptive resolutions of V, first to vi, then to flat vi, then *finally* to I, but even then, only via the flat VII!
- The melodic arch of the first three phrases has a bottom-heavy asymmetry that is balanced out by the dramatic swing upward of an octave in the final phrase. Note the repeatedly expressive use of appoggiaturas; i.e., on the words "together", "forever", "P.S", and the middle "you" of the final phrase.
-------------- 3X -------------- |G |D |D A |D | IV I V I
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS - PSILY is ultimately an ironic blend of both backward and forward looking influences. On the one hand, the relatively soppy lyrics and the pop arrangement are reminiscent of their cover repertoire from the Decca audition period. By the same token, there's a technical sophistication here, especially in the harmony and uneven phrasing, which looks well beyond many of the other apparently more original songs from the early EMI days.
- Aside from the sophistication of any specific technical device used here per se, the most creative touch of all (IMHO) is in the way that the the successive deceptive cadences in the verse provide an exquisitely realistic shyness and emotional "playing footsie" that otherwise belies the the readymade paper-cut valentine of the words.
Alan (email@example.com *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)
"Quite right, invites to gambling dens full of easy money and fast women, chicken sandwiches, and cornets of caviar, disgusting!" 080591#02M
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