I do a lot of driving as I travel from one speaking engagement to the next. This gives me many hours of listening time, which is spent on a combination of CDs, audiobooks, podcasts, and radio.
If I have time, I often stop at thrift stores like Salvation Army, Savers, and Goodwill in search of inexpensive CDs to keep me company on these drives.
Earlier on this trip I picked up The Best of Emmy Lou Harris for $1 at a Goodwill in Pennsylvania. I know next to nothing about Harris or her music, so I figured for that price it's time to acquaint myself with her best work. And boy was it boring! Nothing really "wrong" with her music, I just didn't engage with it at all - and I like country music.
At that same Goodwill I also found Alanis Morisette's 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. I recall first encountering her music in 5th grade, when a classmate sang 'Ironic', the tenth and probably most popular track of the album. I also have an a capella recording of the same song that I'm quite fond of. So, with that song in mind, I gave it a chance - and was pleasantly rewarded with a superb album.
Track 8, 'Head Over Feet', grabbed my attention in particular.
It features an intriguing combination of harmonies - a mix of conventional chord progressions paired with rather unusual modulations.
Both the verses and choruses employ nearly identical progressions (same chords in different order - verses: I-V-vi-IV, choruses: I-vi-IV-V), but the verses are in C major while the choruses are in D major. Most fascinating, however, is how that key change is executed.
From verse to chorus uses a common tone modulation: The note A is the third of the F major chord, which is then reinterpreted as the fifth of the D major chord.
C G a F D b G A
C: I V | vi IV |
D: I vi | IV V
Going from chorus back to verse, however, uses a pivot modulation: F major is both bIII in D major and IV in C major.
D b G A F C G C
D: I vi | IV V | bIII
C: IV I | V I
I'm sure there are other songs out there that use this same "bIII reinterpreted as IV" pivot, but I can't name any off the top of my head. (The Beatles do something similar but opposite in 'Penny Lane' - IV is reinterpreted as bIII.)
I'll be listening to Jagged Little Pill tomorrow as I drive to Upper Darby, PA:
Sunday, 24 April 2016, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Upper Darby Sellers Memorial Free Library, 76 South State Rd, Upper Darby, PA
The Beatles: Band of the Sixties
Explore the music of The Beatles in this 60-minute multimedia presentation (part history and part musical analysis) spanning the full 1960's: beginning with the band's seminal visits to Hamburg, continuing through Beatlemania, and concluding with Abbey Road. The program will be supplemented with audio clips of music and excerpts from interviews with the band members.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.