Thursday, March 19, 2009

PMCPP Presents: Maybe I'm Amazed

PMCPP Analysis #15
Key: B-flat Major (With moments in A and D)
Rhythm: Both Ba-Dum and Chunk, with a minor interlude of melodic movement

Pre-analysis explaination: The actual key signature in this song doesn't really matter since both Bb and D have 2 accidentals which keeps it within my "he never strays farther than that" point, but the reason that I have the song parsed in Bb instead of D like many other people stems from how I've always thought of the song. Rather than hearing that opening A-Major as a deceptive V of D that instead moved to Bb, I've always heard it as sort of a detached section that moves naturally up to the Bb up a step, namely because such a section never appears again.

Moving onto the solo songs a bit, since I fully intend to show that even after he left the Beatles his piano chops really haven't changed too much at all. This song was released well over ten years after Paulie started his piano playing and what does it show? Pretty much shows that he's figured out nothing but how to combine his two famous rhythms.

THE PIANO: Not the most horrifically stupid piano part in Rock music, but still, it's nothing we haven't seen before. The song starts off on a simple Ba-Dum rhythm on A Major, moving to a D and eventually to an interestingly not-in-the-key-oh-God-is-he-foreshadowing-a-key-change Dm chord. Now that he's sufficiently pulled you into thinking the song is in A Major, he abruptly (after a few slow arpeggios up the same 3 notes that made up that starting A chord) cuts out an accidental and switches to B-Flat major as the home key.

At the point of the key change he swaps out the Ba-Dumming for some old time comping on the chunk. Heavy play is given to the V-V chord - C, his favorite - as well as a particular avoidance of the Eb chord - with 2 whole accidentals in it - until one small appearance at the end of it all. (More talk about these key changes and whatnot will be had in the next section)

In the middle of the B-flat section is probably the only bit of interesting melodic movement song-wide. All the action stops and Paul does a flashy little run up the bass. "Flashy" is a euphamism for "cliche", but compared to the rest of the song it's pretty damn flashy. I'm sure you've also guessed by now that the run follows the usual Paul McCartney method of melodic movement.


Yeah, it's a 1 measure long run up seconds with nothing else going on on the piano at the time. Actually, the entire track stops when he does that run. Showing off his amazing running abilities?

The Bridge goes into the key of D, but all the while his right hand is smacking block chords he finds a way to stop the pain by placing a pedal point throughout almost every chord in the section. So his hand stays on an octive D in the bass for the entire bridge, nothing special. After the D-pedalfest, the song repeats the sections and goes off into the sunset. Weeee

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: While I really can't trash on the number of chords he uses this time, I can trash the WAY he uses them.

There's quite a few chord types in this song, going through 3 different key signatures will do that. Strangely though he manages to use a chord that doesn't naturally appear in ANY of the 3 keys in this song, C Major. G major is used more often in the Bb section than it is in the D section, which confuses the hell out of me. He also, as I noted before, avoids using the Eb chord entierly in the Bb section until a small appearance in the end which finally proves it as a Bb section.

Without that Eb I could've easily made a case for this songs home key being C Major. G appears several times in a PAC-manner for the V-V C chord during the Bb sections, after all. And if you had a song that contained tons of C, F, and G chords with a Bb thrown in every so often, you would most likely treat it as a C song with flat-vii chords around it.

The A section of the song contains that D-minor chord as I had pointed out before, D-minor belonging nowhere NEAR A major, theoretically. The D section has the Pedal point which makes it much more simplistic than it would be over a kick-ass bassline.

The fact that the lyrics are a cliche blabfest about Paul being in love is nothing special either. :/

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Well honestly most people wouldn't realize half the shit I wrote in this one unless it was carefully pointed to them. Other than that it sounds like a normal Paul McCartney song. And people seem to like those.


Cameron said...

I just stumbled upon this blog. I play by ear, and DO notice all that you brought up.
I consider the song as being in D. The opening chord A, although without the dominant 7th, can be considered the dominant, then we get D over f#, dm over f, em7, then A. You could say what happens next is a "deceptive cadence," although in D that should be b natural minor.

The melody is soaring and inspired (matter of opinion, I realize) and the lyrics are good enough to get the point across.
I don't have time for more now, other than: in the guitar "solo" (no doubt a pre-planned tune), the guitar "digs" into that Bb note from a half-step down ("dvroom - dow dowdow dow...") in a way that sounds dramatic and wicked-cool. That's music-scholar jargon.

UZ said...

Yeah, I found out after writing this (in a karaoke bar, no less!) that most people consider it to be in the key of D, not Bb.

I like the guitar solo in the song, I just think it goes on way too long. Even the most wicked cool solo gets old after a while, especially if the harmony is something we've heard 5 times already.

Larry said...

Thank goodness for the disclaimer, since I know a lot of very theory-educated musicians who haven't the ability to write one crappy piano-run of one of Macca's crappy no. 1 hit piano-songs.
There's a wrong note in "Let It Be" too . . . but it sounds GOOD.
I think Paul's a better piano player than either John or Ringo, if you want to get really hard-core about it.

I'm going to see old McTwoFingers in NY this weekend!!! ROCK!

Cleary said...

That's not even funny? It's just unnecessarily rude and crass. Love Paul...

Cleary said...

*(I)Love Paul...

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Sweet said...

I love Sir Paul's music. Foremost McCartney is a music composer (genius at that) and plays tons of different instrument. I'm not too much into theories, but I do play different instrument. But in my 2 cents, If the music moves me, it did it's job...... Paul's music does.


low5 said...

Wow....You can really make a hit sound worthless. But coming from a by ear player for the first twenty of playing music and then digging into theory rather aggressively, I found this out: Nothing makes it right except what sounds good. Although technical and complicated aren't wrong, writing that way for the sake of it is not genuine creativeness. It's just like most contemporary jazz. Over-theorized noise. Yes it takes a lot of talent, but it's like playing scales(not fun). Probably not gonna be at any super bowl halftime shows. You know, kinda like Paul did.

songboy0011 said...

well, I don't get how you arrive at either of your key centers here. The intro can be said to be in D Maj. As can the chorus. The intro stays unresolved at the 5 chord.. Half tone into the new key for the verse..We don't hear the verse key center resolve until the end of the verses.. It's C.

Having "piano chops" is all but meaningless if your goal is to craft songs that move masses of people.. This tune moves so many people, so much, that a guy made a web site dedicated to questioning the writers "piano chops".

I think you should start a site about how he sucks at rebuilding automatic transmissions next..
Seriously though.. If your interested in song writing, this kind of thing can really kill it for ya.. THE LAST thing one wants to think about when writing memorable songs, is theory..


Darren Hogben said...

With respect to you, I'd guess you were educated with piano lessons as a child: your knowledge shows it. Well, very well done to you. As everybody knows, Macca was self-taught by his amazing ear, plus a little knowledge probably from his father. All he ever set out to do was perform and write; he excelled at that. He 'wrote the book on how to write songs'; he is amongst the pioneers, if not the pioneer, so how can anybody come along years later and disrepectfully pick it apart?! I thank you for analysing the song for the chord progression, (clever in my opinion because the song SOUNDS amazing and right), but picking apart PM's piano-playing ability is not on: he taught himself, and gge playing is certainly substantial in presenting the song. it's perfect, thank you very much!

Michael Bates said...

Interesting blog .... Almost 5 years old now. I found it while looking for the music to Maybe Im Amazed ... Of course ...

I'm guessing your a jazz guy ... Why? Becuase jazz musicians are so pretentious and snotty. I bet you drive Prius or something. A good song is a good song. The average listener could care less about theory as long as its catchy and moving. Now ... If thats not your target audience then surely I digress ...

Theory is great for those times when you need to find that missing chord, or note in a certain scale ...

But theory doesnt do squat for conveying emotion or feeling in a sound, it can be helpful in dramatic key and chord changes, but it all comes down to ones ability to know how to just put it together, no matter how simple or complicated ...


Junk Male said...

Thank you for the explanations regarding key changes etc. Regarding judging his playing technique and writing style, I'm sure he is laughing all the way to the bank.


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