Yesterday I blogged about flat mediant plagal cadences (bIII-IV-I), citing all 12 Beatles tracks that use it, and four non-Beatles examples.
It has led me to another, slightly less common progression that is very similar: II-IV-I. This might be dubbed a "lydian plagal cadence" because the II, with its raised fourth, implies the lydian mode, which is then thwarted by the textbook IV-I plagal cadence.
10 Beatles tracks employ at least one lydian plagal cadence.
'She Loves You'
'Eight Days A Week'
There is a certain bittersweet character to lydian plagals. The raised fourth of the II chord noticeably brightens the music, giving it certain optimism. But that lydian brightness is immediately countered by the non raised fourth of the subsequent IV which noticeably darkens the music. While this bittersweetness does not appear to play a role in 'She Loves You' or 'Eight Days A Week', it sure does in 'Yesterday', reflecting the nostalgic melancholy found in the lyrics.
'You Won't See Me'
Though substantially less gloomy than 'Yesterday', the use of lydian plagals in 'You Won't See Me' also reflects love lost.
'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' and its reprise
The reprise is noteworthy for the flat median plagal cadence immediately following the lydian plagal cadence.
'She's Leaving Home'
The bittersweet character of the lydian plagal cadence explored in 'Yesterday' and to a lesser extent in 'You Won't See Me' is reprized in 'She's Leaving Home'.
The above seven tracks all feature textbook examples of lydian plagal cadences. But there are three more Beatles tracks that feature unusual variations of lydian plagals
'I Call Your Name'
This one adds mode mixture to the formula. The major IV is followed by a minor iv, before resolving to I.
The end of the song proper (not including the "Heya, hey hey aloha" coda) employs a cadence unique among Beatles music. It is indeed a lydian plagal, but the II is inverted (#4 in the bass instead of 2) and is preceded by a bVI6 and i/5. Very unusual and also very cool harmony!
'You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)'
While this tune technically does employ a II-IV-I progression, they are incongruent constituents (despite being contiguous, they're more or less unrelated).
Cadences by definition CONCLUDE phrases, and in this case there are two distinct phrases (indicated in the analysis below through two different lines), the first of which ends with a II and the second of which starts with a IV-I. So while 'YKMN' satisfies the "lydian" and "plagal" labels, it does NOT satisfy the "cadence" label. In other words, yes, it is a II-IV-I progression, it just doesn't function as a lydian plagal cadence because it's not a cadence - the II and the IV-I are parts of different phrases. Every other example I've cited so far IS a cadence because they conclude phrases. So, to be thorough in my catalog of how The Beatles use lydian plagal cadences, I include it, but with this caveat.
Lastly, here are a couple more recent example of the same progression.
Cee Lo Green: 'Forget You' (2010)
Dierks Bentley: 'Somewhere On A Beach' (2016)
The tour continues with 4 consecutive days of "The Beatles: Band of the Sixties", the first of which comes tomorrow evening.
Tuesday, 4 October 2016, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
East Longmeadow Library, 60 Center Square # 2, East Longmeadow, MA
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.