1/18/2020

Weekly Bassline #247: There's No Way Out Of Here (David Gilmour)

Back from the winter holidays I wish you a belated happy new bass year!

Here's the first weekline bassline for 2020:




There’s no way out of here” was the only single of David Gilmours 1978 debut solo album.

The song was originally recorded by the band Unicorn (as "No Way Out of Here") for their 1976 album Too Many Crooks, which Gilmour produced. It was also recorded later by New Jersey stoner rock band Monster Magnet on their Monolithic Baby! album. 

On Gilmours version the bass was played by Rick Wills, who also played with Foreigner, Small Faces and Bad Company.

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12/15/2019

Weekly Bassline #246: Someday At Christmas (Stevie Wonder)

In the last installment of my series on harmonically analyzing christmas songs , we examine the title track of Stevie Wonder’s 1967 Christmas album “Someday At Christmas”.





The song consist of only 8 bars, which are transposed stepwise through 4 keys, starting with A major and ending on C major. This 8 bar progression makes heavily use of the concept of “modal interchange”. We refer to “modal interchange” when chords of two parallel scales are used simultaneously. 

I did the analysis in the key of C major, so we are using chords of the C major scale as well as chords of the parallel C minor scale. Let’s take a look at both scales:



In the verses the dominant chord G and the subdominant chord F are followed by their modal interchange equivalents Gm and Fm.



At the end of most verses we find a classic II-V-Progression (Dm - G) leading back to the I chord of the next verse. 

These II-V-Progressions are the only varying elements in different verses. When a key change follows, the II-V-Progression is shortened like this (shown in the key of A major):


Here is the complete transcription:


Next week I'll be on holiday and therefore I go ahead and wish you a very peaceful christmas time!


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12/07/2019

Weekly Bassline #245: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey)

Released in 1994, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” has become a seasonal pop-gospel classic. The song is in G major, but as we’ve seen before on the previous analysis of Christmas tunes, a lot of non-diatonic chords also appear throughout the song. But let’s first take a look at the diatonic chords of G major:



Right in the Intro of the song we encounter 3 non-diatonic chords. The Cm chord in bar 4 is by now an common friend, as we’ve already met this minor subdominant chord in both “Christmas Time” by Bryan Adams and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by Bruce Springsteen. The bars 5-8 are a harmonically elaborated and prolonged version of the “turnaround progression” (which we discussed in last weeks post).


The 28 bars long verses are like a long extended workout of the “turnaround progression”. The first 16 bars are essentially just oscillating between tonic (I) and subdominant (IV and iv), while the following 12 bars are going through different elaborated variants before culminating  in the pure I-VI-II-V “turnaround progression” at the end.


The bridge is just an extended version of the bars 18 - 24 of the verse:


All in all the whole tuned is built around the I-VI-II-V "turnaround progression"

The list of common elements in comparison to the previous analysed christmas songs:

  • frequently used secondary dominant chords
  • subdominant minor chords
  • turnaround progression





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12/01/2019

Weekly Bassline #244: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Bruce Springsteen)

Last night I played at a nice little christmas show on a typical german "christmas market". It was freezing cold on stage, but the atmosphere was cheerful and contemplative. 




Amongst the songs we were playing was Bruce Springsteens rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", which continues our little tour through the charateristic harmony of christmas songs (if something like this really exists).




Just like Bryan Adams "Christmas Time" that we examined last week "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" is in the key of C major. So let's start again by looking at the diatonic chords of C major:


The verses are 12 bars long and mainly follow the simple I-IV-V cadence while the bass pedals on the root note “C”. In the last 4 bars we encounter a so called Turnaround Progression which is I-VI-II-V. Originally coming from Jazz this progression is now widely used in a variety of popular music styles ranging from R & B to Gospel, Rock etc.


The second verse has a little variation at the end:


The C7 chord in bar twelve is a secondary dominant leading to F major and in fact the following Pre-Chorus can be analysed as being in the key of F major at least for the first four measures:


The second half of the Pre-Chorus is leading back to C major with the aid of the secondary dominant D7 which resolves to the actual dominant of C major “G”.


The chorus is essentially just oscillating between tonic (I) and subdominant (IV) concluding again with the “turnaround progression”.

After a saxophone solo and another pre-chorus the following chorus displays an interesting variation of the I-IV progression
Linked together by a descending bassline the chords can be reinterpreted as  I - V/VI - IV and IVm. Starting from the tonic C major the bassnote Bb on beat 3 of the first bar implies a C7 chord, which is a secondary dominant to the IV chord F major (played in first inversion with A in bass). Stepping down to Ab on beat 3 in the bass makes this chord a subdominant minor chord (Fm), which we encountered already in the analysis of Bryan Adams “Christmas Time”.



As yet we have the following common elements of the two examined christmas songs:

  • frequently used secondary dominant chords
  • subdominant minor chords
  • descending basslines
  • the key of c major



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11/24/2019

Weekly Basslines #243: Christmas Time (Bryan Adams)

This year I'm playing a few Christmas gigs and therefor I'm learning a bunch of christmas songs. While transcribing I noticed that a lot of christmas songs have similar harmonic features and so I decided to analyse a few of them. In the remaining weeks until Christmas I'll be posting 4 Christmas songs with analysis starting this week with Bryan Adams "Christmas Time":



Like many christmas songs “Christmas Time” by Bryan Adams is in the key of C major. This is in fact one of the most common keys for christmas songs. I’m not quite sure why, but maybe because it’s the “white” key , as it only contains the white keys of the piano.



Regardless of the “whiteness” of the key, in most christmas songs you’ll find a few non-daitonic chords. Let’s take a look at the verses:



The E major chord in bar 5 is the secondary dominant of the VI chord (Am) bringing in the G# as a non-diatonic tone. The lament bass in the first two bars however is a all-diatonically descending bassline typically going down from the tonic chord (I) to the dominant chord (V). This is a musical technique which goes back as far as to Renaissance composers like Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643).



In bar 6 of the chorus we have a minor subdominant chord (Fm), which is a borrowed chord from the parallel C minor scale and thus adds an “Ab” to the list of non-diatonical notes, which is enharmonic to “G#”.



The bridge contains another secondary dominant chord in bar 6. The D major chord (V-of-V) resolves to the actual dominant G major (V) and adds the F# to the list of non-diatonic notes. At the end of the bridge we accounter a descending bassline which unlike the lament bass is only accompanied by the dominant chord G major.

After the bridge the song modulates up a whole tone to D major:





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