Wednesday, 4 January 2012

It Took Me So Long To Find Out

I remember a class in college where the professor took us through why Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the perfect example of the genre.  He deconstructed it, showing how the melodies and their development, the harmony, the structure and the arrangement just epitomized everything about how a good symphony was supposed to work.

I don't know if it's the best example, but if you were looking for a candidate for the perfect Rock and Roll song, Day Tripper by The Beatles would have to be in the running.  An unforgetable hook, duplicated on guitar and bass, a driving beat, fabulous vocals featuring the patented Lennon/McCartney who's-singing-lead-and-who's-backup? harmony ... it's got it all.

The hook features a classic blues by-play between the major and minor third, keeping things fresh by adding a 2nd/9th over the otherwise standard pentatonic scale (well not so standard because of the major-minor third thing).  A nod back, a look to the future.  A cheeky "I'm both and I'm neither" attitude. 

The song is standard twelve bar blues/rock disguised by a few extra chords (2, 3 and 6).  Again a nod to tradition as we keep things fresh and surprising.  Then there is the classic 50's-early 60's harmonic build up at the end of the bridge/solo - again made fresh by featuring it in such a driving, bluesy song (no doo-wop stuff here, brother) - then pushed aside as the drums burst through at the end to clear the way for the main hook.

Of course, just like Beethoven didn't sit down and clinically approach writing what turned out to be both a masterpiece and the benchmark for the symphonic form, neither did the Beatles consciously design and manufacture the song.  It also comes from the heart as well as the head.  In the end, that's what makes it so darn good.

Like I said: I don't know if it's the best example, but I'll tell you one thing:  that's rock and roll, baby.

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