Hannemann’s Music Corner: The Hook
Column by RICHARD HANNEMANN
A chord is any three or more different letter notes, either in a stack or in melodic sequence. This definition reflects modern usages and spellings.
Certainly Bach would not have been quite so liberal in his definition. In the Common Practice period – appx. 1700-1900, Bach to Wagner, a chord would have been specifically a triad with, or without, the addition of the 7th (and, later, the 9th and the 11th.)
Other than the 7th, any note which was not part of a triad would have been considered a non-chord tone.
Melodically, this is still a reasonable way to proceed. Harmonically, we have “frozen” the non-chord tones into new chords. But we spell those chords in terms of basic triad spellings.
A triad is a chord made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the chord scale. We can start with c (1), d (2), e (3), f (4), g (5), a (6), b (7.)
If we use c, e, g we are using the 1 3 5 of c and we get a C chord. Now you could work out the scale for any given triad, or to find any given triad, but it is much easier to simply use 1 3 5 of the chord root (the name note of the chord.)
So if we want some kind of g chord we simply use g (1), b/bb (3), d/db/d# (5.)
Notice that on our 3rd and our 5th we have some options. What kind of chord you get will depend on which option you choose for the 3rd and the 5th.
The third can be major, M3, or minor, m3. The 5th can be perfect, P5, diminished, d5, or augmented, A5. In this example we could use:
g (1) b (M3) d (P5) = G;
g (1) bb (m3) d (P5) = g minor;
g (1) b (M3) d# (A5) = G augmented;
g (1) bb (m3) db (d5) = g diminished.
These four 1 M3 P5 = Major; 1 m3 P5 = minor; 1 M3 A5 = Augmented; 1 m3 d5 = diminished are our 4 basic triads which we can add to or otherwise modify.
Now you know enough to go on and you might want to print this out for future reference (cuz I really don’t want to have to type all this again.)
Here’s the fun part – every note can be harmonized with any chord and/or any note can be harmonized with every chord and, in either case, the note doesn’t have to be part of the harmonizing chord in which case it adds to or modifies the harmonizing chord. Bach would have apoplexy.
This last bit means that any note can act as a pivot note which allows you to slip easily from chord to chord and, more importantly, from key to key. Wicked.
We return you now to The Sandwich Gallery and tons of fun.
The hook uses three notes, e, f#, and g, and four chords. The melody notes run: e, e, g, g, g, f#, g, f#, e, e. Play it on your on your instrument and you will begin to hear what might be possible. The melody sets up the gag – the chords nail it in place.
We had finished the opening on f with an F chord and we said we probably wanted to go to the C with a note contained in the C chord. And so we have.
The opening note of the hook is e (repeated) which we will harmonize with a C chord. The next note is g. We could harmonize our three g notes with the C chord ( c e g, remember?) but let’s go to the G instead which is the V of C. All western music wants to do this, go from I to V.
Modulation is the fine art of slipping from one key to another mid-stream. We mentioned the use of the pivot note which is shared by two different chords or two different keys.
We can also use a chord that is shared by two different keys so as to go from one to another. In this case G (g b d) is the V (also called the dominant) of C, but G is also the I (also called the tonic) of its own key.
We have three g notes in succession. We just might be able to work this so that the first is part of the key of C but the last is definitely the key of G. Here is where the lyric helps us.
The lyric is “Sandwich Gal’ry, the Sandwich Gal’ry” Matching lyric to chords and notes strophically we get C: “Sand (e) wich (e)” G: “Gal'(g) ry (g), the (g)”. The lyric has almost a full stop on the second g note and the third g note begins the second clause of the thought.
This is where the modulation happens as one lyric thought ends and the next begins. Which slips us very nicely into the key of G.
What helps to nail down the key shift is the following f# which is the leading tone 7th of G the note to which we return directly after the f# – “sa (f#) and (g).”
We could harmonize these two notes with the G chord, but since we slipped into the key of G let’s use its V chord D (d f# a). Again, I – V (G – D). Pretty standard.
And now we have an opportunity to do another modulation, this time to the key of D. Our next word and note is “wich (f#)” which we still harmonize with the D, but now the D is becoming established as more of a I chord than a V chord.
Again we can nail this down with what follows which is two e notes. These we can harmonize with A (a c# e) which is the V of D.
Thus: C I: “Sand (e) wich (e)” G V: “gal (g) ry (g)” G I ” the (g)” D V “sa (f#) and (g)” D I: “wich (f#)” A V: “gal (e) ry (e).”
And then ……………………. it repeats. On C. Oooooh, trickery…………….
G (g b d) is the V of C (c e g), D (d f# a) is the V of G (g b d), A (a c# e) is the V of D (d f# a.)
Our starting melody note is e, our ending melody note is e. But our starting note is decidedly in the tonic C while the exact same note as our final is on the chord, A, which is decidedly not so final. If A is the V of D then one would expect the next chord to be D giving you the traditional I – V – I.
Or, depending on how long you want to keep up the game, the next chord would be E (e g# b) which is the V of A. But the repeat begins on C (e) which leaves that A (e) hung out to dry.
Pete and Repeat went fishing. When we ended our lyric on that A (e) Pete essentially fell out of the boat. Who is left is Repeat, which gets us right back to Pete and Repeat went fishing. Which means the song never truly ends.
Why, and how, does this work? Necromancy 🙂 Wait for it…………….