Baiting the Hook
Column by RICHARD HANNEMANN
There is an old gag: on a piece of paper write, “how do you drive someone bonkers all day (over).” On the other side you write, “how do you drive someone bonkers all day (over).”
There are wonderfully fun variations on this, e.g. “Pete and repete went fishing. Pete fell out of the boat. Who was left?”
When you get the answer, “repeat” you say, “Pete and repete went fishing …” You get the drift. Shaggy dog stories are of similar nature.
People like to have finality. Closure. An ending. A sense of doneness. What makes jokes of this nature work is the lack of closure. You know what? There is a musical version. Ain’t that wunnerful?
I’m going to show you how the gag works with the example of my Sandwich Gallery Jingle, which I wrote and recorded in 1973. Even though the ad ran only a few months, in morning drive time, fully 20 years later people still remembered it.
The jingle started with a simple opening phrase a, a, a, a, b, a, g played three times followed with g, f, f, f. Now, harmonize this with two chords, F and G, thus: F: a, a, a, b, G: g (repeat) then, G: g F: f, f. You have now baited the hook. Play these notes, lingering on that last f, and you will hear it.
A cadence is the means by which you bring a melodic phrase to some kind of repose. In music there are two very significant places of repose – the 5th note of the scale and the 1st note of the scale. The 5th note, and its attendant chord, the V, is called a half-cadence.
Imagine a road trip. The half-cadence is your motel 5. It isn’t the end of the trip, but it is a good place to rest and take a breather before continuing on to the end.
There is a sense of rest and repose but there is also a sense that you still have a way to go before getting home. The 1st note (or its octave) and its attendant chord, the I, is home.
All western music is based on this. You start your journey at I, you get to your motel V, then go home to I. I – V – I. Most very simple folk songs, such as Skip To My Lou, use this basic two chord progression. Going directly from V – I is called a full or authentic cadence.
Of course, as with any trip, there are all manner of interesting things along the way. And, of course, you have to stop briefly for gas, or to take pictures. Between I and V is IV – the chord based on the 4th note of your scale.
It helps you get from I – V and it can help to get you from V – I. You can go I -IV – V – IV – V – I or any version of this. Makes the trip interesting.
The IV also gives you an alternate route home – a little side trip as it were just before you arrive. Going from IV – I is called a plagal cadence and you are probably most familiar with it as the “amen” ending. So now you can go I – IV – V – I, or you can go I – V – IV – I or any variation thereof. Back to the Sandwich Gallery.
We didn’t start our musical trip at home. We started away from home, and the lyric suggests this: “Having a wonderful time, wishing that you were here, enjoying the fruit and deli at…” Reads like a post card, doesn’t it? So we want our music to suggest being away from home. But where is home?
F and G are most often the IV and V chords, respectively of C. Start on c and count: c (1), d (2), e (3), f (4), g (5), a (6), b (7) c (8/1.)
So home is C. and we have set up a plagal cadence to get there. Our next melody note will have to be a note contained in a C chord.
I suppose at this juncture it might be helpful to know what a chord is; or, more specifically, what a triadic chord is.
Wait for it…………..