Saturday, June 14, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Fixing a Hole

FIXING A HOLE
PMCPP Analysis #5
KEY: F Major (With occasional chromatic stints)
RHYTHM USED: Chunk

Probably the biggest example of laziness hidden in the back of a song this side of Hello Goodbye, Fixing a Hole is a fine choice to round out our first 5 studies. Actually, this song is one of the best examples of what this blog is about period, now that I think about it!

THE PI... ER, HARPSICHORD: Yes, this is probably the first song in the history of anything to contain a rhythm harpsichord part. (Thanks for the term, Mr. Pollack.) Ugh. Paul, there's a reason people hadn't done it yet, and it's not that nobody considered it. Still, it sort of almost-kinda-ifyatrynottothinkaboutittoohard sounds in place here and could pass for a decent example of The Beatles making innovations and whatnot. The main problem is that it just. won't. stop.

The first instrument in the song is that harpsichord, banging away on a I-+V-i-IV progression, which just happens to be played in a manner that you won't find pretty much anywhere else in the song: with variety in the chords. Almost every chord he plays throughout the entire song on those chunked 3-4 note chords is near identical in hand position. To an untrained ear listening through the song, you might not even think the chord changes at all! I actually had to point out to someone that there was actually harpsichord through the song, they'd gotten so used to that one chord banging away.

In some of the songs I list here I normally don't give credit to the left hand parts during chunking, because normally there isn't anything of real note to add. On most of those instances, though, there is at least SOMETHING in the piano bassline that is at the same speed or even slightly faster and more daring (Like in Good Day Sunshine) to compliment the treble. Not so in the case of this clunker. The bass clef part is all 1 note half notes, normally on the roots. Sounds like a Stu Sutcliffe bass part, frankly. (Non Beatles fans just stick another bad bassist's name in there if you don't get the joke.)

No real melodic material other than the chunks are to be found in the Harpsi part, not even of the "running scales in seconds" variety. Man, when I called it a rhythm part, I wasn't kidding. To add insult to final injury, the part for harpsichord is going the whole song, no breaks. Straight quarters through the verses, bridge, solo, outro, EVERYTHING. To quote I am the Walrus; "I'm crying."

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: F Major here, ladies and gentlemen, finally getting back to our favorite keys after those 2 studies of D and A majors. And despite how many different inflections and differences Paul sticks onto the chords, it doesn't change the fact that this entire song is in I-IV-V and V-V chords, a grand total of 4. The largest devation from this formula is to stick a minor i chord in instead of the major variety from time to time.

He must've been proud of his discovery of that f minor chord, since a good 1/3 of all the song is spent on it between IV and V chords, barely even keeping this in the realm of F Major at all. Never do the I and i chords appear next to each other, however. Guess it would've made the gambit too obvious. And revealing his tricks of obvious progressions and whatnot are not what Macca was all about. How the hell else do you think he got away with all that crap for an entire 7 year recording career?

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Come on man, do I really need to answer this? It was on Sgt. Peppers! You could've thrown anything on that album and it'd have won us over. Hell, "When I'm 64" and "Within You Without You" managed to get on there. Other than that stupid Harpsichord part and the obviousness of what's going on in the chords, etc. it's really not a horrid song. Nice vocal touches, a decent bass line, could've been worse, you know?

- UZ

1 comment:

Lerxst said...

Interesting read. Just thought I should point out that George Martin played the harpsichord for the entire duration of that track, not Paul. Paul played bass and lead guitar. Also, The Girl I Knew Somewhere has a pretty rocking harpsichord rhythm AND lead that predates this song by several months, and personally I think the timbre of harpsichord as a rhythmic instrument is pretty awesome. Yes it can easily sound clunky but there's something to that which I find quite charming.

NOTE:

This series and blog is totally tongue in cheek. I really do love Paul McCartney.