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Notes on "All Together Now"

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Previous page: Notes on "Only A Northern Song" Next page: Notes on "Hey Bulldog"

This article is from Alan W. Pollack's groundbreaking series "Notes on the Beatles". Links in the orginal article is written in this colour: index to the series, while links I have added appears as standard links. Go here for more information on my site about the song

Notes on "All Together Now"

KEY G Major
METER 4/4
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Refrain ->
            Verse -> Refrain -> Refrain ->
                Bridge -> Refrain Refrain -> Outro (w/complete ending)

General Points of Interest

Style and Form

As it is with many another among the finest examples of classic entertainment for tots, this song draws a casually artful balance between its childlike core values and a non-trivial amount of sophisticated detail thrown in to maintain the interest of the so-called grown ups in the peanut gallery.

The list of such twists includes sharp syncopation, uneven phrasing, surprising wordplay, and an unpredictable form.

They do a wonderful job of projecting the illusion that the song is almost being made up from scratch, just for you, and in real time. The impromptu clowning around that you encounter on the surface, though, is surely belied by a smoothness of execution that is one of the great Beatles hallmarks.

The form defies easy classification among the more typical pop or folk models we're used to finding. The first part is standard enough, with two verses for starters followed by a bridge and refrain. The follow up with a single verse followed by two refrains (and no intervening bridge), then a bridge (with no preceding verse) followed by close-to three refrains in a row is where it gets dicey.

Melody and Harmony

The tune stays in a constricted range and is set syllabically like a patter song. The talky effect extends into the half-sung antiphonal parts for backing vocals in the bridge and refrain sections.

Harmony doesn't get much easier than I, IV, V.

Arrangement

The broad outlines of the arrangement are carefully coreographed with only the most superficial of the special effects left somewhat to chance:

Intro: Acoustic guitar

Verse 1: Add single tracked McCartney

Verse 2: Add either a ukelele or mandolin

Bridge: Add bass, drum set, and backing Beatles; drop Paul

Refrain 1: Add fuller "chorus," harmonica, and percussion/bells

Verse 3: Full instrumental backing, restore Paul vocal solo

Refrain 2,3: This time add "honkers"

Bridge: Same as before

Refrain 4,5: Add handclaps in #5

Outro: Note the honker on the trailing edge

Section-by-Section Walkthrough

Intro

The intro provides 8 full measures of the I chord preceded by a two beat syncopated pickup from below:

            3  4 1 2 3 4 ...
            F# G|G |...
G:   I

The F# chord chord is merely an appopgiatura and deserves no Roman numeral of its own. The effect is reminiscent of the opening of "The Night Before."

Verse

The verse is a straightforward eight measures in length, closed in harmonic shape, and uses just two chords:


        |G |- |D |- |
         I   V

                      4  1 2 3 4 1
        |G |-    D |-     G|- |
         I       V        I

The syncopation at the end of measure 6 breaks up impending monotony and is nicely synchronized with the apex of the tune. Even when dealing with a melodic range of four notes, Paul ends up creating something that still has an arch-like shape.

Bridge

The bridge is an asymmetrical ten measures long. This time, the melodic shape of an upward vector, the final phrase of which is rhetorically extended two extra measures:

        |C |- |G |- |
         IV   I

        |C |- |D |- |- |- |
         IV   V

All three chords appear now, and the harmonic shape of the section is open at both ends; starting on IV and ending with the melodic climax on V. The final vocal phrase (in measure 8) is syncopated in another gesture toward avoiding tedium.

Refrain

The refrain is, again, a four-square eight measures long, using two chords, and a closed harmonic shape. Again, as well, the tune describes an arch shape in spite of its narrow range.

        |G |- |- |- |
         I


        |D |- |G |- |
         V   I

Outro

The ending features one of those three-strikes-you're-out gambits much favored by the Beatles. With the tempo suddenly picking up speed, what starts off as an unusual third consecutive repeat of the refrain is modified in the fifth measure to provide a complete ending with a big V -> I finish.

        |G |- |- |- |
         I


        |D |- |- |- |
         V


        |G |- |- |- |
         I

The message that we're getting very near the end is subliminally telegraphed by the way in which the harmonic rhythm sudden slows down right in the face of the otherwise hurtling backbeat.

Some Final Thoughts

When *I* was a boy, grandma taught me a song that whose lyrics uncannily resonate with the subject of our current study. It started off something like this:

One, two, buckle my shoe.
Three, four, open the door.
Five, six, pick-up sticks.
... and blah, blah, blah.

At risk of appearing sex-obsessed, I can report that MY song didn't contain any lines that were as ambiguously suggestive as the musical question, "can I take my friend to bed?" Then again, maybe I'm just one of the older generation leading this country to galloping ruin; or perhaps, more accurately, I'm preferring that my grandma had been.

Regards,

Alan (awp@world.std.com)

---
"He's very clean."                                          112298#158
---

Copyright (c) 1998 by Alan W. Pollack

All Rights Reserved

This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.

These articles were originally posted in the News Group rec.music.beatles. The content from this newsgroup is archived at http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/, and Alan W. Pollacks "Notes On" series can be found at http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/awp/awp.html

. I used to link to the versions published in Soundscapes before I decided to include them on my own site.

If you want to learn more about the musical side of song writing, chord progressions, harmony and theory through The Beatles songs (and/or The Beatles in particular), I recommend the following book:

Artist: Dominic Pedler

Arranged by The Beatles


More >>

The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles


Book of the Month 2003-10
The Songwriting Secrets Of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature - a new and perceptive analysis of both the music and the lyrics.

More than thirty years after The Beatles split up, the music of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison lives on. What exactly were the magical ingredients of those legendary songs? why are they still so influential for today's bands? This groundbreaking book sets out to exlore The Beatles' songwriting techniques in a clear and readable style. It is aimed not only at musicians but anyone who has ever enjoyed the work of one of the most productive and successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. Author Dominic Pedler explains the chord sequences, melodies and harmonies that made up The Beatles' self penned songs and how they uncannily complemented the lyrical themes. He also assesses the contributions that rhythm, form and arrangement made to the Beatles unique sound. Throughout the book the printed music of the Beatles' songs appears alongside the text, illustrating the authors explanations. The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature - a new and perceptive analysis of the music itself itself as performed by what Paul McCartney still calls 'a really good, tight little band'.

Level: , 816 pages
RefNr: 0711981671
Order From:
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