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Key (concert):

D Major

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Alan W. Pollack's Notes on Across The Universe



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The Beatles: Across The Universe - - (Table view)

Other recordings of Across The Universe:

Composed by Lennon & McCartney

The song is in the key of D. The song starts with a I-vi-iii-ii-V progression. It can be seen as a variation of the I-vi-ii-V progression (the iii-chord added between the vi and the ii chord). The chords in the song are D-Bm-F#m-Em7-A7. Another variation is heard in the first repetition. Instead of the V chord, there is a iii chord, a chord that is not diatonic in the key of D. The chords are D-Bm-F#m-Em7-Gm. Then the progression V-IV-I is heard two times: A-G-D. Then the themes are repeated.

Progressions

  • I-vi-iii-ii-V Major
  • From Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Across The Universe":

    The verse is eight measures long, with an extra half measure tacked on in some cases [I-vi-iii-ii-V]:

            |D |b |f# |- |
    
    D:  I  vi  iii
    
            |e |- |A |- |
             ii   V
    

    The two extra beats show up only in second half of the first two verse pairs. In other words, the other times this section is played, the first half of pair #2 and the second half of pair #3, it is exactly eight measures. You got to wonder how much of this is wily avoidance of foolish consistency versus really just not caring, versus a perverse pose of appearing to not care.

  • I-vi-ii-V Major
  • V-IV-I Blues Blues ending
  • From Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Across The Universe":

    The song contains a touch of the blues based on the use of the emblematic V->IV->I progression. Did you ever notice just how differently the latter progression affects compared to when the order of the first two chords is reversed?

  • I-IM7-iii-ii-V7
  • I-iii-V
  • From Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Across The Universe":

    The intro is six measures long. It presents a subtly abridged preview of the Verse section. Elimination of the two measures worth of the e minor chord has the dual benefit of leaving something yet unexposed for later while also setting the model of non four-square phrasing right from the beginning [I-iii-V]:

  • iv Chord Minor iv in a Major setting
  • From Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Across The Universe":

    The harmony is also diatonic with the exception of John's much favored minor iv chord (in a Major key.) Six out of the seven native chords are used, but they appear in familiar progressions, and they stay real close to the home key throughout.

  • I-vi-iii-ii-iv
  • From Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Across The Universe":

    The Verse' variant starts off like first verse form but diverges from it for the second phrase. Here the length is a non-symmetric 7 measures, which conveys the feeling of free verse even without dealing in half measures:

            |D |b |f# |- |e |g |- |
             I  vi  iii    ii  iv
    
    
    

    [I-vi-iii-ii-iv] The move from ii to minor iv causes a cross relation between the B natural in the first chord and the Bb in the second one.

    The harmonic shape is again "open," but mysteriously so, given minor iv instead of V as the target.

    Special chords

    Modulation

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