Having completed the overview, we now turn to the individual sections for a more detailed look.
At their most fundamental, introductions set up what comes next. This almost always means the music heard in the intro will be heard again later in the song. And 'Stairway to Heaven' is no exception.
The instrumental introduction of 'Stairway' consists of four phrases, the first two of which are essentially identical and the second two of which are comparable.
0:00-0:54 (A) Introduction (16 measures)
0:00 (a) |a E/g# |C/g D/f# | FM7 |a | [instrumental]
0:14 (a) |a E/g# |C/g D/f# | FM7 |a | [instrumental]
0:27 (b) |C D |FM7 a |C G |D | [instrumental]
0:40 (b') |C D |FM7 a |C D |FM7 | [instrumental]
The (a) phrases are heard a total of six times: twice each in the introduction, first verse, and second verse.
0:00 (a) Intro [instrumental]
0:14 (a) Intro [instrumental]
0:54 (a) Verse 1 “There's a lady...”
1:07 (a) Verse 1 “When she gets there...”
1:48 (a) Verse 2 “In the tree...”
2:01 (a) Verse 2 [instrumental]
The (b) and (b') phrases are heard a total of four times: twice each in the intro and first verse.
0:27 (b) Intro [instrumental]
0:40 (b') Intro [instrumental]
1:21 (b) Verse 1 “Ooo...”
1:34 (b') Verse 1 “There's a sign...”
It's worth noting how both the (a) and (b) phrase are only used in pairs – they never once appear as a single phrase.
It's also worth noting how the (a) and (b) phrases are used together in the intro and first verse, but the second verse uses only the (a) phrases. We'll address why that is in a subsequent blog.
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Aaron Krerowicz, pop music scholar
An informal but highly analytic study of popular music.