I mentioned in my blog about deceptive AABA songs that "The Beatles do not use the pre-chorus frequently." There are, in fact, only four Beatles songs which use a pre-chorus: 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', 'All Together Now', 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)', and 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer'.
The pre-chorus in 'Lucy in the Sky With Dimonds' is used in textbook fashion: It connects the verse to the chorus. This, however, is only true for the first two of the three compound level structures of the song. The third and final iteration proceeds directly from the verse to the chorus, omitting the pre-chorus. This was likely done to "tighten up" the song. It's relatively common in Beatles music to conclude a song with an abbreviated compound section (there are far too many to list them all, but 'Love Me Do', 'P. S. I Love You', 'I Saw Her Standing There' 'Hold Me Tight', 'It Won't Be Long', 'Little Child', 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', 'And I Love Her', 'Can't Buy Me Love' all feature partial reprises). In this case, that same "partial reprise" notion is implemented on 'Lucy' by skipping the pre-chorus from the third compound section.
The improvisatory singalong nature of 'All Together Now' is reinforced by an unpredictable formal design. Much like 'Lucy in the Sky', it's first use of the pre-chorus (0:31-0:43) is textbook: It transitions the song from verse to chorus. Also like 'Lucy', the pre-chorus is omitted later on: Verse 3 (0:53-1:03) proceeds directly to the chorus (1:03-1:13). The pre-chorus IS heard a second time (1:23-1:34), but there it serves more as a contrast to the choruses - a way to space out the iterations of the choruses. Of the last six macro-scale sections of the song, five of them are choruses. No other Beatles song is so chorus-heavy at the end (though 'I've Just Seen a Face' comes close with four of the last five). In that sense, the pre-chorus functions more as a bridge. But having had the same section appear earlier in textbook fashion, I cannot justify labeling it anything else.
The pre-choruses in 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' are used in a more traditional way than either 'Lucy' or 'Just Seen a Face' in that they all three follow a verse. But, only the second and third pre-choruses proceed to a chorus. As it's name implies, pre-choruses are supposed to anticipate the chorus. The first pre-chorus in 'I Want You', however, proceeds to another verse instead. This delaying of the chorus thwarts the pre-chorus' expected structural function and thus builds tension in the listener.
Then, when the chorus is finally heard (nearly two minutes into the song), it's an even bigger arrival.
In contrast to its three predecessors, 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' uses the pre-chorus entirely in textbook fashion: It's heard three times, all of which connect a verse to a chorus.
After a string 8 consecutive speaking engagements delivering other programs, I return to my signature presentation tomorrow in Fox Lake, Wisconsin:
Saturday, 21 May 2016, 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Fox Lake Public Library, 117 W State St, Fox Lake, WI
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.