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Key changes in Beatles songs
18 June 2019
6.26pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
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I just stumbled across this website, which shows that of 186 original Beatles songs, only 16 stayed completely in key. 16. 

That never happens these days, it blew my mind how musically interesting the Beatles catalogue is - and I already knew it was pretty damn cool!!

 

Those 16 songs, with the writer's initial:

All Together Now  - M
Dig It  - LMHS
Don’t Let Me Down - L
It’s All Too Much - H 
Long Long Long – H
Love You To  - H
Misery  - LM
Not A Second Time  - LM
Paperback Writer  - M
Rain  - L
She Said She Said  - L
Thank You Girl  - LM
The Inner Light  - H
Tomorrow Never Knows  - L
Yellow Submarine  - M

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22 June 2019
7.16am
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QuarryMan
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I'm even sceptical about a few of those... Long, Long, Long seems like it drifts about quite a bit, but I'm probably wrong. 

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22 June 2019
9.18am
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Kaniffee
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When in doubt I check what Alan Pollack has to say on a song.

A game of approach-avoidance is neatly played out in the harmony, with every section starting off away from the home key and several of them ending similarly away from it. It's as if the protagonist is dealing with a hot potato of an emotion that he cannot acknowledge except obliquely, and that he feels nervously in need of retreat the minute he finds himself confronting it head on.

So it doesn't exactly stay in key then?

The song is clearly in F Major throughout, but your sense of home key is subtly challenged by the extent to which so many of the sections avoid starting or ending on the I chord.

Yeah that would make sense.  It gets as far away as you can from a key while technically staying in key. The chords were all in the key as well, so the holding of the ii and V chords is still in key.  It's just that the I chord doesn't come up very much in the song, and that makes it seem ambiguous.

I'm not sure I would say it qualifies as staying completely in key, but there's no defined other key that it actually goes to either.

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22 June 2019
11.34am
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Wait okay so out of curiosity I checked what he said about She Said She Said , and he argued there was a pivot modulation to the relative IV of the mixolydian mode (aka the major key) on the bridge.  I don't know how that counts as staying in key, so now I'm checking all of them.

 

All Together Now : completely in key

Dig it: in key i guess at least for the part released.

Don't Let Me Down :  completely in key

It's All Too Much : in key because it's a drone on one chord.

Love You To : stays in dorian mode

Misery : in major key

Not A Second Time : in major but emphasizes the relative minor

Paperback Writer : stays in mixolydian mode because there's no V chord

Rain : has the V chord which makes it major even though it's pretty mixolydian

Thank You Girl : in major key

The Inner Light : in mixolydian mode

Tomorrow Never Knows : somewhat mixolydian because of the flat VII, but all of the tape loops definitely make me question this being considered to stay in key despite its C drone.

Yellow Submarine : in major key

 

Anyways some of these seem ambiguous, and it makes me question by what standards the blogger used to determine this list.  Especially with this line:

I was looking primarily at chord progressions. When I factored in the actual vocal melody the number dropped to an incredible 16!

I don't understand what exactly is meant here.   Vocal melodies can embellish and still stay in key, but this in addition to this part

I’ve Just Seen A Face would have made the list but for a G natural in the guitar intro.

2 more would have made the list but for bluesifying the melody, (Ticket 22) namely, Starr’s Don’t Pass Me By and the harmonica opening of Love Me Do .

Implies that it doesn't count as staying in key which quite frankly seems pretty dumb.

 

Also worth mentioning the weirdness that comes with applying a western notion of key to Indian music.

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22 June 2019
11.41am
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Beatlebug
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1) In re: Long Long Long, yes, it does technically stay in key (unless you count all that racket at the end), but only tenuously. The relative minor is heavily implied and it avoids using the root as a resolution like the plague. It's great. ahdn_george_08

2) Vocal melodies can embellish and still stay in key, yes, and they can also embellish and not stay in key... right? a-hard-days-night-ringo-7

3) A blues scale tends to utilise a flattened VI, which, by a standard key, is more akin to the IV scale than the I scale. For example, a blues song in C (or, more probably, its relative minor A) would likely have a B-flat, which is like a regular F/D minor scale. You can argue that blues don't count as standard scales for that reason, but clearly that blogger was notating those songs in a standard major or minor scale. mccartney-shrug_01_gif

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22 June 2019
11.57am
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2.  Yes?  But also if it caused the key to change it wouldn't really be an embellishment anymore because it's by definition affecting the harmonic scheme, and embellishments fit around established harmonic schemes.

3. I suppose, but as a listener most people are used to blues, so saying something is out of key for using a blues scale doesn't really make sense.  As far as blues goes I've seen more about the b3 and b7 scale degrees than the b6 unless you mean the bVI chord in which case i don't know though I suppose you can't have one without the other.

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22 June 2019
5.17pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
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I think what the blogger was talking about was using the ultra derived formula of (for example in C major) only using the notes

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

And only using the chords

C major

D minor

E minor

F major

G major

A minor

B diminished

 

Anything other than those things doesn't count as being 100% in key (for major) so little embellishments are generally out of key

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27 October 2019
9.59am
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27 October 2019
11.21am
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@Bongo what does this have to do with key changes?

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31 October 2019
5.43pm
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JW OBoogie
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I think key changes are fine when their adding to the overall appeal of the song. When they're used on the final chorus to lift a song that's starting to drag, they quickly become overused. Every second Barry Manilow song comes to mind (or was that every BM song?).

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31 October 2019
5.45pm
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JW OBoogie said
I think key changes are fine when their adding to the overall appeal of the song. When they're used on the final chorus to lift a song that's starting to drag, they quickly become overused. Every second Barry Manilow song comes to mind (or was that every BM song?).

  

Agree. Penny Lane does it well, for example.

Abba is another band that fell prey to the allure of a key change on the last chorus too often...

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31 October 2019
9.29pm
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31 October 2019
9.39pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
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Joe said in post 1
I was playing Penny Lane to Ted the other day (got to start 'em young) and Ellie said: "Ooh, truck-driver's gear change!" And it has got one, though The Beatles didn't often rely on those sorts of cliches (was it even a cliche in 1967?).

I don't know if there's a thread about key changes in Beatles songs, but they didn't often feature them. The only other ones I can think of are Sgt Pepper (Reprise) and the guitar solo in And I Love Her . Are there any others?

  

Beatlebug said
Yes. a-hard-days-night-john-6

  

Great to now have a link that works!paul-mccartney-thumb_gif

Some classic examples in that link...

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9 November 2019
4.24pm
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Kaniffee
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The Hole Got Fixed said

JW OBoogie said

I think key changes are fine when their adding to the overall appeal of the song. When they're used on the final chorus to lift a song that's starting to drag, they quickly become overused. Every second Barry Manilow song comes to mind (or was that every BM song?).

  

=
Agree. Penny Lane does it well, for example.

Abba is another band that fell prey to the allure of a key change on the last chorus too often...

  

Penny Lane is unusual though bc most of the chorus's had a key change down so the final key change brings us back to the home key.

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