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Author Topic: Brian's Late 60s Waltzes  (Read 4217 times)
frightfulhog
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« on: October 06, 2015, 11:12:50 AM »

I've recently become very interested in Brian's Friends-20/20 work, and it struck me just how often he composed waltzes in this era. I can't think of too many notable songs before when he wrote in 3/4 time*, yet from "Time to Get Alone" (probably Brian's most ambitious song from this period) to "I Went to Sleep," he seems to have landed on several interrelated feels in 3/4 time.  It sounds to me like the Friends-era waltzes come from a discrete batch of songs and feels - can anyone give more info on the composition of these songs, or any place where Brian has commented on them?

*can someone think of others? Surfer Girl, In my Room, some of the b-side songs on Today!, and what else?
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 11:16:01 AM by frightfulhog » Logged

jakeg1235
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2015, 12:33:00 PM »

I think also "Let the Wind Blow"?
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2015, 12:54:50 PM »

Great topic! Friends, Let the Wind Blow, I Went to Sleep, Time to Get Alone... incredible music all the way!

IIRC Mike once commented that everyone around the group thought Friends was going to be a #1 hit song whereas he had his doubts about that because it was a waltz. Talking about Mike, Big Sur is another great 3/4 song of theirs of course.
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2015, 12:58:01 PM »

I've recently become very interested in Brian's Friends-20/20 work, and it struck me just how often he composed waltzes in this era. I can't think of too many notable songs before when he wrote in 3/4 time*, yet from "Time to Get Alone" (probably Brian's most ambitious song from this period) to "I Went to Sleep," he seems to have landed on several interrelated feels in 3/4 time.  It sounds to me like the Friends-era waltzes come from a discrete batch of songs and feels - can anyone give more info on the composition of these songs, or any place where Brian has commented on them?

*can someone think of others? Surfer Girl, In my Room, some of the b-side songs on Today!, and what else?

A lot of the early ballads were in 6/8:

The Lonely Sea
Surfer Girl
The Surfer Moon
In My Room
Your Summer Dream
The Warmth of the Sun
Keep an Eye on Summer
Ballad of Ole Betsy
We’ll Run Away
Girls on the Beach
Thank Him

(some would say 12/8 - honestly the difference between the two time signatures has always escaped me a little, I guess one has more of a triplet feel than the other. However you write it out, this 6/8 feel was very, very common in 50s and early 60s ballads/doo wop. Brian's trick was to take these old ballad feels and give them a twist in the harmonies and progressions that made them fresh and new.

I think that Let the Wind blow may be Brian's first waltz, although I'm not positive.

But it kind of makes sense that Brian would have become attracted to Waltz time, because he was so used to writing ballads with a triplet feel, and waltz time was sort of a mature twist on that. The fact that a song like Friends or I Went To Sleep changes chords every measure makes it really sound like a traditional waltz by emphasizing the 3/4 time. Likewise, Time to Get Alone emphasizes its time signature by using a different prepared piano for every beat of the measure and repeating that every measure. Let the Wind Blow doesn't stand out as much as a waltz because it sits on the first chord of every line for the first two bars, which de-emphasizes the waltz aspect a little.

That said, compared to how often he used straight time, Brian really didn't write very many waltzes at all!
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LeeDempsey
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2015, 12:59:47 PM »

Don't forget "Be Here in the Morning."
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2015, 01:26:52 PM »

In his sleevenote to the Friends/20/20 twofer, doesn't Brian say "Cabinessence" was his attempt at a rocking waltz? Referring only to the rocking wordless chorus I guess. Is that part in waltz time?
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frightfulhog
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2015, 01:32:19 PM »

I've recently become very interested in Brian's Friends-20/20 work, and it struck me just how often he composed waltzes in this era. I can't think of too many notable songs before when he wrote in 3/4 time*, yet from "Time to Get Alone" (probably Brian's most ambitious song from this period) to "I Went to Sleep," he seems to have landed on several interrelated feels in 3/4 time.  It sounds to me like the Friends-era waltzes come from a discrete batch of songs and feels - can anyone give more info on the composition of these songs, or any place where Brian has commented on them?

*can someone think of others? Surfer Girl, In my Room, some of the b-side songs on Today!, and what else?

A lot of the early ballads were in 6/8:

The Lonely Sea
Surfer Girl
The Surfer Moon
In My Room
Your Summer Dream
The Warmth of the Sun
Keep an Eye on Summer
Ballad of Ole Betsy
We’ll Run Away
Girls on the Beach
Thank Him

(some would say 12/8 - honestly the difference between the two time signatures has always escaped me a little, I guess one has more of a triplet feel than the other. However you write it out, this 6/8 feel was very, very common in 50s and early 60s ballads/doo wop. Brian's trick was to take these old ballad feels and give them a twist in the harmonies and progressions that made them fresh and new.

I think that Let the Wind blow may be Brian's first waltz, although I'm not positive.

But it kind of makes sense that Brian would have become attracted to Waltz time, because he was so used to writing ballads with a triplet feel, and waltz time was sort of a mature twist on that. The fact that a song like Friends or I Went To Sleep changes chords every measure makes it really sound like a traditional waltz by emphasizing the 3/4 time. Likewise, Time to Get Alone emphasizes its time signature by using a different prepared piano for every beat of the measure and repeating that every measure. Let the Wind Blow doesn't stand out as much as a waltz because it sits on the first chord of every line for the first two bars, which de-emphasizes the waltz aspect a little.

That said, compared to how often he used straight time, Brian really didn't write very many waltzes at all!

Yeah, as I listened to the earlier tracks earlier, I realized that the rhythm was 6/8, though my theory knowledge is so limited/rusty that I had trouble distinguishing anything in triple time from a waltz. Also very true on how they're varying the doo-wop formula - feel like that trick changed/reached its peak on the second side of Today!

Also yeah, this topic occurred to me when reading the (really excellent) analysis of the arrangement of "Time to Get Alone" on another recent thread. And the fact that Brian wrote so few waltzes is partially why this is so interesting to me - seems like he was interested in the form for a short amount of time.
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« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2015, 04:39:34 PM »

How about some 70's songs?

"Sail On Sailor" is 6/8.
"Solar System" is 3/4 (waltz).
"Good Timin'" and "Goin' On" are both 6/8.

I can't think of anything off the top of my head in 5/8 or 7/8.
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2015, 06:24:43 PM »

One classic waltz nobody has mentioned?

It's called "Where Is She?" and it's still relatively new to us. But I'd say it's a classic, and it fits right in with stuff like "Friends" and "I Went To Sleep" and whatnot.
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2015, 07:52:32 PM »

Also, there's one that Brian didn't write but played most (maybe all?) the parts on, "Tennessee Waltz".
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2015, 01:13:57 AM »

And a few more such as:                                                                                                                                                                                             Dennis' Celebrate The News (another 'rock'n'roll waltz' like Cabin Essence)
Bruce's Tears In the Morning & Disney Girls
Ricky & Blondie's Hold On Dear Brother
Mike's Big Sur (California Saga-version)
And Brian's version of New England Waltz
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2015, 02:31:02 AM »

I can't think of anything off the top of my head in 5/8 or 7/8.
That's one thing Brian and Frank Zappa didn't have in common!

The only odd-metre bar I can find in a BB song (there may be others) is the 5/4 at 2:04 in "Deirdre". Steve Desper alone knows what happened there...  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWR_qL_mxo0

Edit: "Be Here In The Morning" has its odd-metre moments too...
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 04:39:40 AM by john k » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 02:32:36 PM »

Cantina section.
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« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2015, 12:19:38 PM »

Er, surprised no one's mentioned a certain song from GIOMH called -

The Waltz  Geek
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rogerlancelot
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2015, 01:24:48 AM »

Er, surprised no one's mentioned a certain song from GIOMH called -

The Waltz  Geek

True, but it did start as a topic of late 60's waltzes and "The Waltz" is a bit obvious. "Orange Crate Art" (by VDP) is another 6/8 as is "That's Why God Made The Radio". "Carnival aka Over The Waves" is a 3/4 waltz. The verses of "Celebrate The News" are some kind of whacky 6/8 timing (maybe it's closer to a waltz) but changes to 4/4 time in a few sections. We could go on and on with this and for me it's a lot of fun!
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2015, 02:29:11 AM »

Cantina section.

Yes indeed. Good call.

The verses of "Celebrate The News" are some kind of whacky 6/8 timing (maybe it's closer to a waltz) but changes to 4/4 time in a few sections.

My ears tell me it's 3/2 rather than 6/8 or 3/4.
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2015, 02:56:39 PM »

Good call, john k. That makes more sense.

I know of 2 major radio hits that used 7/8 time:
The Beatles: "All You Need Is Love" (verses)
Pink Floyd: "Money" (everything except for the guitar solo)

Anybody know any more?
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JK
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2015, 04:07:42 PM »

Good call, john k. That makes more sense.

I know of 2 major radio hits that used 7/8 time:
The Beatles: "All You Need Is Love" (verses)
Pink Floyd: "Money" (everything except for the guitar solo)

Anybody know any more?

Not 7/8, unless ones strays deep into Zappa country. I looked around (it's late) and was reminded that the intro to "Whipping Post" (The Allman Brothers), a song "my" band has played in the past, is in 11/8 (maybe 11/4? hard to say). For a major hit with odd metrical changes, try Dionne Warwick's "I Say A Little Prayer".

But the weirdest by far by a relatively familiar artist has to be "Doctor Zhivago's Train" from Robert Palmer's swansong album Drive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-T8qbnT1eE

I managed to make some sense of it----the link is here:

http://beachboysforum.freeforums.org/i-m-so-young-and-other-intresting-stuff-t217.html?hilit=Zhivago#p4999

You're most welcome to check I've counted it right!


 

 
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« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2015, 12:44:10 AM »

not hits, but the Grateful Dead's "Money Money" and "Estimated Prophet" are both in 7/8 (and both written by Bob Weir) and their song "The Eleven" is in 11/8.
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« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2015, 09:38:07 AM »

I can't think of anything off the top of my head in 5/8 or 7/8.
That's one thing Brian and Frank Zappa didn't have in common!

The only odd-metre bar I can find in a BB song (there may be others) is the 5/4 at 2:04 in "Deirdre". Steve Desper alone knows what happened there...  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWR_qL_mxo0


Or how about "I'd Love Just Once to See You" just after the 1:00 mark?  What time sig. would that be?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KWi5N9UGrY
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« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2015, 12:04:20 PM »

Or how about "I'd Love Just Once to See You" just after the 1:00 mark?  What time sig. would that be?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KWi5N9UGrY

Haha. That falls under the heading of "blatant edit" because somebody c*cked up. Much like the premature bass note after "It's not too late" but that was deemed acceptable. Grin
« Last Edit: October 10, 2015, 12:06:04 PM by john k » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2015, 12:05:00 PM »

And this falls under the heading of "blatant edit" because john k c*cked up.  Cool Guy
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« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2015, 02:41:20 PM »

The Monkees' "Love Is Only Sleeping" was originally planned as a single release, but instead it ended up an album cut on Pisces Aquarius in Fall '67. It still got some airplay on radio stations playing any Monkees track they could in '67 due to demand.

I mention that because it's in 7/4 time...it beat Pink Floyd and Money by several years, which is saying something about the Monkees if they could get an odd-meter pop song with a drop-tuned guitar riff on network TV for "the kids" in 1967. Not many pop bands were touching any time signatures more exotic than 3/4 or 6/8 at that time, except some Bacharach hits.

Money, BTW, is actually in 7/4...not that it makes a big difference but since the pulse and the main bassline riff is based on quarter notes and not 8ths, it's best written in 7/4 instead of 7/8. Funny story, when it came time to decide who would solo over what section, Gilmour took the 4/4, more bluesy/swing section for his solos, and gave the sax player the 7/4, which apparently didn't sit well with him (in a joking way). Soloing in 7 is tough.

Speaking of...consider the early 60's crossover "hits" from Dave Brubeck, "Take Five" in 5/4 time, and "Blue Rondo A La Turk", which has several odd meters and cycles happening under the melody. Great, great songs...they edited them for radio and jukeboxes, but imagine a time when 5/4 jazz became a mainstream hit.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2015, 02:46:59 PM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2015, 02:21:41 AM »

The Monkees' "Love Is Only Sleeping" was originally planned as a single release, but instead it ended up an album cut on Pisces Aquarius in Fall '67. It still got some airplay on radio stations playing any Monkees track they could in '67 due to demand.

I mention that because it's in 7/4 time...it beat Pink Floyd and Money by several years, which is saying something about the Monkees if they could get an odd-meter pop song with a drop-tuned guitar riff on network TV for "the kids" in 1967. Not many pop bands were touching any time signatures more exotic than 3/4 or 6/8 at that time, except some Bacharach hits.

Money, BTW, is actually in 7/4...not that it makes a big difference but since the pulse and the main bassline riff is based on quarter notes and not 8ths, it's best written in 7/4 instead of 7/8. Funny story, when it came time to decide who would solo over what section, Gilmour took the 4/4, more bluesy/swing section for his solos, and gave the sax player the 7/4, which apparently didn't sit well with him (in a joking way). Soloing in 7 is tough.

Speaking of...consider the early 60's crossover "hits" from Dave Brubeck, "Take Five" in 5/4 time, and "Blue Rondo A La Turk", which has several odd meters and cycles happening under the melody. Great, great songs...they edited them for radio and jukeboxes, but imagine a time when 5/4 jazz became a mainstream hit.

Interesting, that about Brubeck. He seems to have had an obsession with unusual time signatures, including 7/4. I remember hearing the wacky "Unsquare Dance" on UK radio a lot in the early '60s----and, something I'd forgotten, it was a top twenty hit there, reaching #14 in mid 1962. 
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« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2015, 02:23:08 AM »

A couple of unreleased recordings:

On Top Of Old Smokey (with Macca)

Carnival


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