Songwriting Feb 14, 2021 18:13:11 GMT
Post by B.E. on Feb 14, 2021 18:13:11 GMT
First, I just want to say that I really enjoyed this analysis! "Help" is one of my all-time favorite songs. The elongation of the chord progression (or shortening of it for the intro) is a neat "trick". The first time I recall recognizing it as a songwriting technique was a Beach Boys song. This was around the time I really started to (try to) analyze music. I used it to write a song where the intro/outro elongated the chords (relative to the verses). Anyway, this got me thinking about other songwriting techniques, and a progression I recently came up with. It's really simple, and diatonic, I-vi-ii-IV-V, but what I found interesting about it was that the amount of time I spent on each successive chord was cut in half (well, nearly, the last chord is the same as the one preceding it). This progression started out as an exercise in writing a melody over a single chord. (Most of the songs I've written were written 5-10 years ago, before I had any idea of what I was doing, and for some reason I had it in my head that I needed to change chords regularly in order to serve the melody.) Speaking of, the melody (along with the progression) is probably as basic and generic as it gets, but I find it downright addictive. You could loop around forever; like "Mona". To save further time, I just recorded it really quickly on my cheap, poor-sounding acoustic. I tried to emphasize the melody - not my forte. Why am I sharing this? I don't know.
Just first chiming in how cool the intro to the title track is. The chord changes over those utterances "help!" are super simple and generally diatonic (meaning in the key of the song), but have great effect in showing the rising tension and desperation.
The song is in A major, but the first chord is a B minor (the ii chord); it goes to G major (the IV/IV, not a diatonic chord; probably better thought of as a flat seven major chord, bVII); then it goes to E7 (the V7); and then an A7 (the V7 of IV, the tonic but with a dominant 7th).
The reason it's so effective in displaying that rising tension is that through those chords, you've got really limited movement that goes chromatically upward while other common tones between chords can stay put. By having that single ascending chromatic line atop a stable base of notes, it really feels like building tension. See it outlined using these voicings:
B minor: B-D-F#
G major: B-D-G
In the first three chords, you can voice them so that only that one note ascends chromatically. Then while the A7 is a "resolution" (V7-I), it doesn't feel resolved at all because of the 7th in that tonic chord--it makes it feel like IT is the V7 chord and as if the song will move on to D major ... which it does not. It "resolves" to a state of unresolution.
The verse then does go into more standard fare (with the exception of that bVII again): I-iii-vi-bVII-V.
And the chorus elongates the chords, spending more time on each, but repeating the progression used in the intro, and so implying that same kind of tension.