What are the most harmonically complex songs of Bob Dylan?

What are the most harmonically complex songs of Bob Dylan?, I asked in BobDylan SubReddit. I got many interesting answers…

To Fall in Love With You, which was never really finished, has an extended progression which takes a long long time to get to the key chord.

I’ve always found On a Rainy Afternoon to have a very elegant chord progression, though it wasn’t ever completed. Very simple in the beginning, but the resolution of the progression gets much more involved.

Lay Lady Lay actually has kind of a weird chord progression, which I just realized yesterday.

Nashville Skyline has soooo many amazing changes. Among my top 5 faves

I threw it all away has some funky changes as well now that I think of it

I’m very partial to Tell Me it Isn’t True

I was going to say Oh Sister but I just remembered I thought the other day that it sounded like Knockin on Heavens Door … not Lay Lady Lay … so I am not helpful lol but I want to see if someone knows!

I think it’s similar to All Along the Watchtower, but not exactly the same if I’m remembering correctly

Frankie Lee And Judas Priest – FLJP is G with a capo on the 7th fret (so effectively C), but it’s G, Bm, Am, G (I iii ii) whereas LLL is A, C#m, G, Bm (I iii bVII ii). The G (bVII) in LLL gives it a unique characteristic not present in FLJP. It also gives it a chromatically descending bassline – A – G# – G – F#. I can’t recall any other BD songs with a chromatically descending bassline like that (though I suspect there are some bridges which do it.

House of the resizing sun and death of emmit till have a C/G D/F# F bassline which gets close and simple twist of fate has E, EMaj7, E7, A which gets close but it’s not the bassline so much.

The rolling thunder review SToF were G, Bm, G7, C which is the closest song, in spirit, to LLL I can think of offhand.

Make You feel My Love also has a rather nice chromatically descending bassline.

There is an interesting ascending bassline in the pre-chorus of Too Much of Nothing.

Ballad of a Thin Man has another chromatic descending bassline in the start of the verse.

There it is! I really need to listen to JWH more I’m pretty unfamiliar with it compared to the rest of 60s/70s work

I will say that Dylan and folk music in general though is not where you go for harmonic complexity. If you compare Dylan and, say, Steely Dan or queen by that metric, he’s pretty primitive. But he does have some deceptively great melodies and chord progressions, as evidenced by the number of artists who want to cover his work. And as for that one-of-a-kind voice and those lyrics, well, we all know about that.

One of the first ones that comes to mind is Forever Young Fast Version

Dear Landlord and In the Garden have some interesting stuff going on. A lot of the gospel songs have chord progressions that vary from the “standard” folk patterns.

Black Rider, In the Garden, Dear Landlord.

Just listening to In the Garden, wow, these constant stairs-like modulations (transpositions?) are amazing!

Moonlight.

I Contain Multitudes has some pretty complex chords

In search of little Sadie (or whichever of the two plays first on self portrait) has a strange chromatic chord progression that’s very unusual, and it’s literally Dylan reharmonizing an old folk song so that in itself is pretty interesting to me

Dear Landlord. And if I hear it right, blind willie mctell has an interesting chord progression too

Tears of Rage comes to mind, its sooo pretty and a really unique structure. Richard Manuel composed the music to Bob’s words on that one though.

On A Night Like This uses an Am/F# (F# half-diminished)

In the Garden” is probably the answer, as it modulates four or five times in the space of a verse while the melody employs a couple scales.

Dear Landlord” modulates all over the place as well

Black Rider” is a truly novel progression and the final contender for most harmonically advanced song with its chromaticism and modulations.

“Covenant Woman”, “Moonlight”, “I Contain Multitudes”, “Make You Feel My Love”, “Too Much of Nothing”, “Ring Them Bells” all deserve honorable mention but are not as complex as the three listed at the top.

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’ has some pretty interesting stuff going on. The verses are a pretty straight forward G-C thing, but then in the B-section the C swaps to a minor chord, and all of a sudden there’s an A-flat major thrown in there which transitions back to C-maj and then A-min.

Mama, You Been On My Mind – I believe it is in the key of C and uses an E7, D7, and G#dim7.

Gates of eden really stands out, because most of his early stuff is very simple chord wise. But here he modulated between g major and c major all the time. And then that Bb major comes out of nowhere and it sounds just great. That Bb to C to G is actually kind of an early punk chord progression.

This Wheel’s on Fire has more chords than most Dylan tunes and a diminished chord in there as well, which he doesn’t use a lot. Rick Danko is credited for composing the music with Dylans lyrics.

Baby let me follow you down

It’s all over now baby blue” which is in C, uses an E major on the transition, which is and sounds interesting

In thE Garden, Dear Landlord, Moonlight, and Black Rider are the ones I see most commonly mentioned here

I’ve seen people post before that In the Garden is probably his most complex song harmonically which I would have to agree with.

Risky suites of chords (and how to get them) ?

I downloaded French magazines like “Best of Music 2016“, and I dig, je creuse, through torrents or YouTube. I trash everything (rolling my eyes), but, well, I keep digging.

There’s a very lazy Radiohead album (A Moon Shaped Pool), an “I see what you’re doing, sillies” with rolled-out vowels I pfffed all along. But there’s this one: Burn the Witch, propelled by unstable harmonies, I found it… interesting (I try to forget the rolled out vowels). It floats in some uncertainties.

So there’s a lack, everywhere, I think, in the pop-rock field, of a producer saying: “No, dear, this is not good enough”.

This morning I listened to Paul McCartney’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, which is curiously entirely good. It was produced by Nigel Godrich (the, hmmm, Radiohead producer), who was tough enough to fight the myth, to push and jostle the singer:

According to McCartney, Godrich was at times blunt in his appraisal of McCartney’s songs-in-progress during the making of Chaos and Creation in the Backyard:

“Nigel… refused to allow me to sing songs that he didn’t like, which was very cheeky of him.”

Ah ah! I like this! Well, today (and then), the whole profession says it’s a masterpiece, an instant classic.

So I played the game of listening to the previous album and the next, entirely, and hmmmm, nope, it’s not that good, by far (but there’s one exception, a song named : “I do”).

I know exactly what Godrich did. Because what he got in “Backyard” is… harmony complexity (and surprises), which come from risky suites of chords and the subsequent modulations he has to make to follow).

Cf Friends to Go, very John Barry-esque (and oh, the lyrics!)…

This is such a good lesson. Good things appear when sometimes… we need someone we trust to say: “Hey, silly: not like that!”. Cheeky but lovely, right?

How do we find someone like that? Someone we trust enough? And more: when do we need this “coaching”? What kind of “producer” relationship is it? A superior? A lover? A Friend? A collaborator? A “push-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” guy? What if we need this and we don’t know it?

Have a great day!

The Strong Liquors of Dissonances

ONE

When I began to explore Classical Music, I read a lots of books and I listened (with appetite) to some spicy pieces : Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, then French adventurers like Ravel or Debussy.

The Strong Liquors of Dissonances – the weird rhythms and sharp melodies of the Russians, the iridescences of the French – acted like a drug on my hungry brain.

I was with Berg and Webern in an awe!

TWO

Then, I tried to “descend” in time, without finding any pleasure in Berlioz, Tchaikovsky or Schubert, until I found Brahms and Bruckner. Having listened to many composers, from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Sibelius, Penderecki and Boulez, my ears are skilled enough now to determine the century a music is from.

Style, but also the way the composer plays with harmonies – this is where my pleasure is.

Brahms sounded like Beethoven, with a deeper, risky way of using modulations. His concertos (piano, violin) often put me in ecstasy!

Less “risky” than the guys of XXth Century, but with strength, and like a brown clay river. Earthy! Terrestrial!

The vast desert lands of Sibelius. The cathedrals of Bruckner…

THREE

I explored a lot more, finding treasures in interstices : Franck, Roussel, Martinu, Koechlin, Hindemith, Walton, Holst. New forms. Liquors!

And I found Puccini, with this misunderstanding : he’s popular, some melodies are easy, but he’s very subtle and complex… down under. I have been completely intoxicated by this mix of Italian “singing” and the crazy modulations he streams under it.

FOUR

And here’s my tool : I realize I’m now digging for more subtle things. Slight changes in harmonies (Schubert’s 9th). Complex forests to explore (Mahler). Less Whisky, more great wines.

 

Where else?

Thanks for reading

 

 

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Purposed Mistakes & Vague Intensitites : Chronicle 55

OOOOO

I found a great Facebook page, I had to ask them how to sign up, and then they asked me three questions before accepting. The first one was simple :

“Who are you?”.

I thought about it for a few seconds then I answered : “An haecceitist”

– which mean nothing, I agree, but I explained.

What is asked here? My job? My age? Who am I, really? Along the day, I’m

  • a dad
  • a mammal
  • a solitary man
  • a watcher
  • a photographer
  • a musician
  • an heterosexual
  • an ex
  • an internaut
  • a walker
  • a reader
  • a blogger
  • a hungry man
  • a reader
  • a quiet guy
  • a sleeper
  • a lover
  • a bookseller
  • a cook

…and many other things, right? Plugging to possibilities. See “Haecceity”

When one answers to the question “Who are you”, one lies. We are legion.

OOOOO

When I hear someone who has a job and makes plenty other things than what the job should be, I’m in alert mode. I don’t know why. There’s something wrong. The accident is near.

OOOOO

Dominique A is a French singer who has a trait I love : his chant sometimes gets out the harmony, which creates a tension before it “comes back” in proper harmony. Chords live their life, they do what they should do. The voice dances with and into it, but a single word can, at times, places itself out of what it should be. It’s like a smart and slightly irritating way of modulating…

I’m obsessed by that.

  1. My musical brain suffers a bit because it’s wrong, and at the same time wishes and craves to fix it – thus I often hum the “correct” note over the singer. I like this movement.
  2. My musical analysis flow stands up, listens carefully and wait, kind of desperately, the return of “harmony”, the… resolution of this.

It’s the last word of each verse’s first sentence here :

I’d like to think about this as a tool. How could I pattern it?

Take a classic form (a photo, a poem, an advertising, a recipe, a song, a painting). Add a… purposed mistake, which “annoys” the form and the frame, then resolve it.

It’s just an example of strangeization.

OOOOO

The pleasure in Proust is : he knew how to define everything.

OOOOO

It’s true. Some musics you listened too much become flat, no taste. Some months later, you take a CD (or you just find the folder on your Macintosh), and the weaving is magic again. This just happened to me with Röyksopp’s

OOOOO

The music we play / The music we listen to.

OOOOO

Were the Romans the Americans of Antiquity?

OOOOO

Charles Baudelaire :

Que les fins de journées d’automne sont pénétrantes ! Ah ! pénétrantes jusqu’à la douleur ! car il est de certaines sensations délicieuses dont le vague n’exclut pas l’intensité ; et il n’est pas de pointe plus acérée que celle de l’Infini.

How penetrating is the end of an autumn day! Ah, yes, penetrating enough to be painful even; for there are certain delicious sensations whose vagueness does not prevent them from being intense; and none more keen than the perception of the Infinite.

Have a nice day! Thanks for reading!

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Trente Parke

“Sways & Totters” : Teetering Harmonies in Bear in Heaven

One motto of art is “What’s new here?”, right?

Therefore my inner dial is the “Eyebrow Criteria” – one has to move up.

Like : “What??!”

Thus today I gathered some sick pop songs.

 

If the verses sounds minimalistic plastic “I make you wait”, the choruses lift you up dangerously in uncertain harmonies. Don’t be sick.

 

This one is pleasantly teetering, right? Your ears warn your brain : there’s a mistake! There ARE mistakes! But… Errr… these ears of yours also say : I feel pleasure. Mmmh. Maybe. When it climbs?

 

I opened a community about dissonant pop in G+ :

https://plus.google.com/communities/115751320828152239563

 

 

 

 

Loaf & Book : The Feng Shui of Things

The loaf, on the table, is upside down. Do you turn it up? Yes you do.

The book, on the shelf, is upside down. Do you turn it up? Yes too.

Why?

OK, it’s meant to be on the correct side. And it’s ugly to watch. Or you “feel” the bread and the book despair, you want to save them from uncomfortability.

Feng shui is about “harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment”. It’s interesting to explore, though I mainly relate to my instinct “does this look right or not?” instead of << rules >>.

Most of the time, the rules of Feng shui corroborate my instinct. For example : when you lie in your bed, ready to sleep, you HAVE to be able to see the door, right? You could say it’s only logical but you know it’s not only logical. You feel it. Like the poor bread loaf, gasping for help like a dying tortoise it is.

  • En aparté, from aside, I would like to tell you something :
  • In French we do not have a word for a loaf (well, there’s a word, une miche (pronounce mish), but we don’t use it), we say “un pain” (a bread).
  • For a slice of bread, we have “une tartine” (say tarteen), but we often say “du pain”.
  • So, well, we miss a loaf word, but you miss a tartine word too. Pffff…
  • Instead of “spreading something of a slice of bread”, we say the verb : tartiner.

Harmony, balance, l’équilibre. It’s probably an old instinct we have, right? Or is it an Interesting Braid between instinct and logic?

Tool : Bwaaah you got it, right? Where will you apply that? Things and places, but also? What could be a Feng shui of poetry? Of photography?

Thanks for reading!

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