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What's with the...? I Want You (She's so Heavy)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by t77mackie, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Being directed to Alan W. Pollack's wonderful notes I figured this one would be easy. WRONG - It brought up more ?'s than answers.

    I'm still digging in but off the top of my head - From Pollack:

    "Overall the song is securely rooted in the home key of d minor...

    --> Thank God we have that established....

    The tune is predominantly in a pentatonic minor mode, encompassing scale degrees 1-3-4-5-7. The alternate verse phrases though also make effective use of the pungent flattened fifth and seventh; (Huh?) e.g. Ab and Cb (not to be spelled B-natural!) in the key of d."

    --> Why not?

    The verses are harmonically anchored around the chords i, VI, V, and V-of-V, (V-of-V what does that even mean??) though there is also some uncharacteristically uncoordinated harmony used to connect them"

    --> Ya think?!?

    OK, so they're moving all around here - the song is in Dmin - there's no F (our buddy) the relative major to be seen anywhere however -A- shows up a lot, the next door neighbor on the circle of fifths but in Maj??? Paul even plays an AMaj arpeggio. How did that get shoehorned into this song.

    It all sounds wonderful so I'm sure I'm overlooking a lot in my musical theory ignorance. Please be gentle.

    Side note: I noticed a lot of people bashed Paul's tone - Try to compare the original to anything played through a 4x10 with a tweeter and the tone knob all the way up with tons of gain. Yuck!


    Reference: http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/iwyssh.shtml
  2. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    Sorry, I didn't realize his analysis of this song would be so confusing. I'll take a closer look at it tomorrow, but in the meantime I'll see if I can answer a couple of your questions.

    First I'll cover the appearance of the A maj in the key of Dminor.

    In the key of D minor, the A minor is in the v position, which means it's supposed to play the role of a dominant, but you run into a problem in a minor key. In your standard major key, the 7th note is major, and is only a half step away from the tonic note. This creates what is known as a leading tone. When you go from V -> I in a major key, that major 7th note is the 3rd in the V chord, and it's movement up a half step to the tonic helps create a nice sounding resolution.

    When you're in a minor key, the 7th is lowered a half step and you lose the leading tone, and with it you lose the nice sounding resolution. As a result, it's fairly common for composers and songwriters to raise that 7th note back up a half step when it's time to resolve back to the tonic. This most often occurs when you're on the v chord.

    In the key of D minor, the v chord is the A minor. If you raise the 7th note up a half step, the A minor becomes an A major. That raised 7th doesn't really fit within the key, but it creates a better resolution than the A minor does, so you see it pretty often.

    That's basically what's happening in this song. The A minor is being altered to an A major to create a better resolution. However, as you'll soon discover, the Beatles often toy with your expectations, and the resolution to D minor doesn't actually occur until the end of the song.

    The other aspect I can explain right now is the V-of-V, also known as a secondary dominant. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. First you take the Fifth Chord, then you take the Fifth of that chord. For example, in the key of C, the V chord is Gmajor. If we take the V chord of Gmajor, we get a D major. So in the key of C, D major is the V of our V chord, which is G major.

    This is also a common technique composers and songwriters like to use. Remember when I said the V chord offers a nice resolution to the tonic? Well this is pretty much true for any chord. You can almost always take the V of any chord and use it as a lead in to that chord. This is what's known as a Secondary Dominant. So if we're about to play a ii chord, but we want something that will resolve into it nicely, we can play the V-of-ii. Even though the V of the ii doesn't really fit diatonically in the key, it gives us a nice resolution into the chord, so our ears let it slide. (In the Key of C Major, the ii chord is D minor. The V of D is A major, so the V of ii is A major. Even though A major doesn't appear in the key of C major, we can place it before the D minor and it should fit pretty well.)

    The most common secondary dominant is probably the V of the V. This is what the Beatles are using here, but once again, the V-of-V doesn't actually resolve to the V as we would expect. (The V in the key of D minor is the A. The V of the A is E. The Emaj chord is the V of A, the A is the V of D. V of the V.)

    Hopefully that's not too confusing. I'll try to give more input tomorrow.
  3. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Thank you so much for taking the time... Excellent explanation!

    Tonight's insomnia is coming to an end so my brain isn't all that on but... From the quote - when we raise the 7th what happens to the 3rd? Are we just changing it to a Maj and calling it a day?

    Thanx again.

  4. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    For those of you playing along at home, here's a decent cover of this song:

    It has every reason to be utter crap - cover of a beloved Beatles song by a metal band with a chick singer and slick production - but it's actually pretty darn respectable.

    Not a fan of the grindy bass tone on it but it's only in a couple spots.

    Much, much better than Type O's attempt of their Beatles medley and Type O is one of my most favorite bands ever. Though opening up shows with Magical Mystery Tour is just plain cool!
  5. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    Whoa, I thought in a standard major scale, the 7th is a minor half-diminished.
  6. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    And another question Sloopy (and everyone else) why call it the "V-of-V" it seems to end up as the 2nd of the original note. Is this terminology used in case the 1st v is an aug / dim? Or have I wandered off the path...
  7. bassfuser


    Jul 16, 2008
    Don't you mean the 3rd of the V chord? So the change is from flatted 3rd to a natural 3rd changing the Ami7 to A7 whose natural 3rd is a half step below the I chord.
  8. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    I would call it a ii-V-I, but I think understanding that the ii is a V of the V(secondary dominant) is important.

    Disclaimer..... I've only been playing 4 years, with some jazz theory instruction, so by no means am I an expert.
  9. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    That's my understanding. We raise the 7th degree of the scale to create a leading tone, which generally means we're just raising the minor 3rd in the v chord to a Major 3rd. A small change, but the impact is significant.

    I believe it has to do with the context of the song. A V-of-V is pretty much just a II, but calling it the V-of-V lets us know the II in this context is acting as a secondary dominant chord, or to put it another way, it's acting as a dominant for a chord that's not the tonic. If there were no resolution of the V-of-V to the V, we might just call it a II.

    It's my understanding that when you're trying to decide what to call a certain chord or event in music when there are multiple possibilities, you choose based on the context. Here, both V-of-V and II accurately describe the chord, but V-of-V gives us a better understanding of what the chord is doing.
  10. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Well, thank you very much. Let's see if I can find some more nuggets...
  11. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    The Beatles were rather harmonically advanced sometimes.

    I'm not sure I'm 'getting' Pollack's analysis. I haven't visited his website in years.

    However, looking at the intro, between the verses, and what is repeated over and over til the end - the repeated 5 measures:

    Jazz/pop labels: || Dm Dm/E | Dm/F Dm/G | E7(b9) | Bb7 | Aaug ||

    This appears to be firmly in D Minor.

    If one wants to use Roman Numerals, this is how I see it (excluding the bass movement:

    || i | i | V7(b9)/V | Gr. Aug. 6 | V+ ||

    First two measures are D Minor: D, F, A.

    Meas. 3 is the Dominant (E7) of the Dominant (A), with a minor ninth: E, G#, B, D, F (E7-9).

    Meas. 4 is a German Augmented Sixth (not in its classical inversion, however), and it is spelled: Bb, D, F, G# (although the jazz/pop label suggests Bb, D, F, Ab). With the German Augmented Sixth spelling, the G# moves up to the A, in the following measure - which is where these chords typically move to.

    Meas. 5 is the Dominant (V) chord. The Beatles alter it, which is not too uncommon, but there is no 7th - just an augmented triad: A, C#, E#.

    Interesting also, this is a Five measure phrase.

    I can offer more analysis (verses, etc.), if it'll keep the discussion going. And I would be interested in other's views/analyses.

    These Beatle-guys were so far beyond the rest.
  12. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    A tritone sub for the E7(b9) in the prior measure, perhaps?
  13. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    I thought about that. And some, like Tchaikovsky, don't particularly care care for the German Augmented Sixth label and do call it a bVI[SUP](♭)[/SUP]7 (in D Minor) - or in this case possibly a tritone substitution. Used in a million Minor Blues tunes - bVI[SUP](♭)[/SUP]7 > V7. It has the sound of a Dominant Seventh, but doesn't function as one, or perhaps it's a 'backdoor' type resolution.

    Sounds like a good possibility. After all, this song could fall into a Bluesy, Minor category.
  14. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Woah, hold on a second... Bb D F G# - isn't that just a plain old minor 7th? Or are we using these esoteric labels because of the context of the chord?

    I'm lost again... :confused:
  15. coyote1


    Mar 23, 2012
    Are you referring to the 'pedal' tones that underlay the long, repetitive but stunning fadeout? Those are, iirc, PEDAL tones - generated on the Hammond spinet they were using. Paul is essentially soloing on bass throughout the last minute or two of the song as Hammond chords and synth wind-noise come building in.

    I could be wrong of course.

  16. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    German Augmented Sixth Chord - that is indeed a fancy term. :D But what it means (and this goes way, way back), is that the chord contains an #4 (augmented fourth) and a b6 (minor 6th) of whatever key you are in - Major or Minor. In this case, the Beatles are in D Minor. So... an Augmented Fourth above D is G#, and a Minor Sixth above D is Bb. We are in D Minor so the chord also contains the D.

    The Basic Augmented Sixth Chord (or called the Italian Augmented Sixth Chord) is D, G#, Bb. It usually is found in 2nd inversion. But the Beatles didn't know about this 'rule', thankfully. They were only half esoteric.

    There are also the French (add in a fourth tone of E), the German (add in a fourth tone of F), or one sometimes called the English (it has other names, as well) that adds in an E#.

    All the tones have 'special' rules for resolving to the next chord.

    The Beatles are using the German Augmented Sixth Chord Bb, D, F, G#.

    Esoteric, indeed. :D

    You can listen to McCartney's Isolated bass track for a clear reference.
  17. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    It's just Bb DOM 7, not really that esoteric.
    Just play the VI chord of D minor as a Dominant instead of major.
    The Beatles were always throwing Dom7 chords where major chords 'belong'.

    It's cool that it also happens it to the notes of the esoteric German Augmented Sixth Chord,
    but I'm pretty sure none of the Beatles thought that way about it.
  18. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    I agree that Lennon was NOT thinking about it. Composers like this have an uncanny ability to absorb sounds from all-kinds of music through their life and incorporate it into their music.

    I also agree that this chord sounds like a Dominant Seventh, but it's not functioning as one - so it can't be called one. ;)
  19. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Wow! The theory stuff that's being brought up here is total madness!! I love it!!! :)

    As far as Sir Paul's tone is concerned I was speaking of it in general. I have seen in other threads many people not liking his (and also JPJ's similar) tone. I believe the dislikers don't like the fact that there is not much treble in it and they feel that it lacks definition.

    I love his tone. Nice and low and boomy and fat. With that kind of tone locked in with the drums and a nice amount of volume all around it just forces the girls to dance. And once the girls start dancing the boys fall in lockstep. Job well done!

    I recently played a Sir Paul style violin bass at a music store and it was the most alien thing I've ever held in my hands! Pretty darn cool though... :bassist:

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