Notes on "You Won't See Me" (YWSM.1)

KEY	A Major


FORM	Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge ->
                        Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout)


Style and Form

- Tucked away within the harmonic inner voice leading of "You Won't See Me" harmonic structure are descending chromatic scale fragments whose recurrence in all sections help unify the song with subliminal efficiency. I said "voices," George, not "lights." :-)

- The form is the familiar two-bridge model with single verse intervening and no solo instrumental section. The moderate tempo drives the track's running time to 3:22, clearly discouraging any thought of doubling the verse between the bridges.

- The verse lyrics are in a form of ABCC; i.e. unique lyrics for the first three sections, with the final verse repeating those of the third section.

- The verses begin with a pickup, but the bridge (and even the title phrase, arguably) place their stress right ON the downbeat, lending sense of grim pronouncement each time.

Melody and Harmony

- The verse tune is roughly arch-shaped. The bridge is less clearly so, though it does end with an upsweep that provides the song with its melodic high point.

- All the indigenous chords of our A Major home key are used except for iii and vi, and we have a chromatic assist from V-of-V.

- The harmonic rhythm is predominantly one chord per measure, causing the few places where it is either faster (end of the verse) or slower (throughout the bridge) to dramatically stand out.

- But what does "chromatic scale fragments" mean? A chromatic scale is simply a scale which consists of all semi-tones; e.g., c-c#-d-d#-e-f etc. In our standard major/minor scales you never find even two such semi-tones in a row. However, the use of chromatically altered chords in a progression (the secondary dominant, "V-of-V", is an archetypal example) allows us to easily knit fragments of chromatic scales into a tonal harmonic fabric. It tends to connote a certain kind of sentimentality and can easily become a cliche. You've got to use it carefully.


- The standard backing combo is conspicuously augmented by piano and tambourine. Paul provides an extremely active and melodic bass part, and Ringo provides unusually detailed patterning to the drumming.

- Against the backing track's rock-solid backbeat Paul's double-tracked lead vocal is pervaded almost completely by syncopations that anticipate the downbeat. The only place in the entire song where Paul *does* sing on the downbeat is (no coincidence) the one place in the song where the backing track, itself, provides syncopation on the eighth note before "3." It's that singular break from the anticipatory syncopation that makes the title phrase sound as though it starts right on the downbeat, even though, literally, that's not true.

- Variation of the vocal accompaniment each time the verse is repeated is another major point of interest in YWSM:

- The overall effect is one of the musical texture increasing in density and complexity over the course of the song; this is somewhat curious in light of the fact that the instrumental texture (piano, bass, drums, and punctuating chords on the off beat in the electric guitar) is unchanged throughout. In other words, this perceived increase in thickness is entirely due to the vocals.

- If you step back from it all and try and grasp the song "in the big picture" as a totality, I believe that this steady increase in complexity of the four verses stands in beautiful contrast to the otherwise balanced alternation of verses and middle-eights in the piece, providing a sort of formalistic counterpoint.

- Some choice details in the arrangement:



- The intro is just two measures long, and though it seems relatively inconsequential when you hear it at the beginning, you later realize that this is an anticipation of the title phrase in the verse, minus the vocals.

- It's uncanny how this characterizing shot of syncopation is first dealt to you right off the bat.


- The verse is an unusual 18 measures long, though it breaks down as a typical 4-times-4 measures (in a pattern of AABA') followed by a petit reprise of the last two measures of the fourth phrase. All four phrases are harmonically closed, both starting and ending on the I chord.

- When we look closely at the harmony, we discover that every phrase has a downward, four-note chromatic scale fragment buried in an inner voice of the accompaniment; the piano part at first, and later, the backing "oooh la la-la" vocals:

                        ----------------------- 2X ----------------------
inner voice:		|E          |D#         |D-nat       |C#        |
chords:	                |A          |B	        |D           |A         |
harmonic analysis   A:   I           V-of-V      IV           I

inner voice:		|G          |F#         |F-nat       |E         |
chords:	                |A7         |D	        |d           |A         |
harmonic analysis:       V-of-IV     IV	         iv           I

                                                 ----------- 2X --------
                                                 1& 2 &  3 4  1  2 3  4
inner voice:		|E          |D#         |D    C#     |C# D D# E |
chords:	                |A          |B	        |D    A      |-         |
harmonic analysis        I           V-of-V      IV   I

- Note the use above of the iv borrowed from the parallel minor, a chord we first discussed when looking at "She Loves You."

- This is the same chord progression, by the way, that opens "Eight Days a Week" though the cross-relation between the second and third chords is greatly softened in this instance by the fact that the D# is followed by the D natural in the same voice.

- The third phrase ("We have lost the time") is built on a different chord progression, but we still have a hidden chromatic scale, transposed this time to fit the new chords.

- Although I said that the fourth phrase ("And I will lose my mind") is essentially the same as phrases 1 and 2, there is actually a significant variation in the harmonic rhythm worth noting. Instead of the last two chords each filling a measure each as they do in phrases 1 and 2, the last chord makes an early, syncopated appearance in between beat 2 and 3 of the measure before the one in which it would seem more squarely to belong.

- If you have any doubt regarding the "intentional" use of the chromatic scale as a unifying factor in this song, I direct you to these two syncopated measures ("if *you* won't see me" "you won't see me") in which the accompanying voices sing the same four-note scale fragment, this time in the mirror image, upward direction! They even repeat it in measures 17 - 18 for emphasis. Checkout George's "Something" for a surprisingly similar example of this.

- You know there's a rehearsal of "Two of Us" in which Paul tells George that "I'll give you a wink when she goes four in the bar." I can't help feeling that the end of this verse in YWSM is metaphorically the same gesture.


- The bridge is a true "middle eight" that is harmonically open at both ends, thank goodness, after all the close-to-claustrophobic harmonically closed verses:

        |F#		|F-nat		|-		|E		|
        |b		|G# dim. 7	|D		|A		|
         ii              vii4/3                          I

        |D#		|-		|D-nat		|-		|
        |B		|-		|E		|-		|
         V-of-V                          V7
                                          4              3

- In this section we find a downward chromatic scale of six notes, running from F# down through C#, actually ending on the downbeat of the following verse.

- Not only is the harmonic rhythm conspicuously slower here than in the verses, but we also find a very subtle ultra-slow syncopation in the way that the chord changes in the first phrase appear in measures 1, 2 and 4, rather than 1, 3 and 4. Note how much more obvious and equally less interesting is the latter alternative.

- I'm labeling the middle chord in the first phrase as a G# diminished 7th chord in its 4/3 inversion (i.e. D in the bass), even though the G# itself doesn't appear until the tune supplies it in the following measure.

- The V chord that ends the bridge decorated in a manner reminiscent of classical music by both a 4-3 suspension in the arrangement, and a slow turn around the chord's 7th in the backing vocals.


- The outro consists of the verse section performed without lead vocal.

- The fadeout is rapid, reaching complete silence by what would otherwise be the sixth measure of this section.


- Faithful readers of this series will be familiar with my ironic postulate that John and Paul never appear so sharply characterized as individuals as when they adopt a common theme. This time it's "You Won't See Me" versus "No Reply."

- The two songs present protagonists who either predict they will shortly lose their mind or have already nearly died because the object of their respective affections repeatedly avoids seeing them. As if that weren't enough of a correspondance, we find a prominent place given in each tableau to the telephone as a circumstantial prop. But look at how they diverge:

- It's difficult to draw out such comparisons without appearing to making a value judgment. So I urge you, keep an open mind. Both approaches here are equally valid regardless of what you personally prefer. But they sure are different.

Alan (


"I'd be quite prepared for that eventuality."                060600#9.1


Revision History
081689 9.0 Original release 060600 9.1 Revise, expand and adapt to series template Copyright (c) 1989, 2000 by Alan W. Pollack All Rights Reserved

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