Sunday, September 10, 2006

Alanis Morisette - Forgiven

Originally by Terry Lin, dragged out from the other side:
OH MY FUCKING GOD This song is pure brilliance. Pure brilliance. Well, at least from a technical standpoint... this song has a progression I have NEVER seen before. What is totally incredible is that from a passing guess, it's a minor key and there are lots of minor chords. Actually, this song has practically major chords EVERYWHERE. There is NO key for this song. It just goes all over the place. Okay, let's break it down:

Verse "[F#min/A]You know how us cath[F#sus4]olic girls can be"

Now I know I'm always suspect when I see an intro that complicated but believe me, that's what the intro is. If you play A,E in the bass and then jam the F#min chord on the right hand you'll nail the first one. The second one play F#,C# in the bass and jam a Bsus2 on your right (which effectively gives you a F#sus4). This intro is nice and colorful but you ain't see nothing yet.

"a [Emaj] little too late"

This is very jarring if you play it on the piano - you can't just play this by itself it will sound odd. But I guarantee you that's what the chord is, and it's only when you play the stuff before does this chord makes sense (ie in context). And then the fun starts.

"I [Emaj/B]never, for[Eaug/C]got Con[C#min/C#]fused as it [Emaj7/D]was"

OMFG. I can feel into the mind of the composer. He just wants to get a chormatically rising bassline, and he puts all these crazy ass chords to do so. Even as I'm looking at that, I can't beleive I got this. One year ago, this song would have been impossible unless I used transcribe, and even then I probably would've misread the song because it contains so much distortion.

"[Gbmaj]I may as [Amin]well have..."

Another huge modulation. This song is throwing chords from like a billion keys. And now the chorous, which was actually the easiest to figure out, even though by most standards, it has a very unusual progresion.

"We all [Dmaj] had our rea[Dbmaj]sons to be [Dmaj]there, we all, had a [Dbmaj]thing or two.... We [Dmaj] all needed some[Dbmaj]thing to cling [Bmaj]too, so we [Dbmaj]did"

This is HUGE modulation - a total smackering of 100% major chords from various keys. But I have seen something like this before, with spanish music. If you jam Emaj, Fmaj, Gmaj it sounds very spanish. And then the big-ass bridge or whatever you call it.

"[Dmaj] What I learned I reje [Emaj] cted, but I believe in God [Dmaj], I will suffer the [Dbmin] conseuqnece, of this inqusition[Dmaj]. If I jump this foun[Emaj]tain, will I be forgiv[Gbsus4]en.......... [Gbmaj]"

The chords are big-time major, big-time modulated, and then go up and down and up. Take heed of the awesome build up as it goes Dmaj, Emaj, and then Gbmaj for the big finale chord - I caught the sus at the last moment. I still cannot find words to express the shock and awe I am at this song. For a progression so unusual, so exotic, the song manages to sound close and familiar without alientating the audience. That is no trivial matter, I tell you. And once again I feel like I'm reached a new plateau in terms of music understanding. It's like, after this half a year of non stop composing, I can see songs in a wonderful light - it's truly a magnificent feeeling.


Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the song would be based off a particular mode in a strange dominant or something (just as an example). Seems to me like you want to learn about writing these kind of strange chord progressions. You should probably study some theory on modes and how you can apply them in your own writing. Me, I’m not that bothered with it. I recognise that they can be a powerful compositional tool but I don’t want to write that kind of stuff. I want to write flashy 80’s-metal songs.

Jacke said...

So, any suggestions of books or something?

Anonymous said...

Well..I probably have a few articles in guitar magazines you can skim through..But knowing you and how you never really get around to reading any articles I bring home I'd suggest you'd just google "music theory modes" and start from there.

Anonymous said...

I went to the library after work yesterday and found notation and tab for guitar for the song..I just skimmed through it but it seemed to me that the song was in the key of A major. Some of the chords in the transcription were also different from the ones I found in the book.

Jacke said...

Though notation-books aren't always 100% correct either. For example, I borrowed a book with notations to Beatles-songs some time ago, the songs weren't in the same key.

Anonymous said...

That’s true. I’ve seen my share of incorrect tabs in my days.
The funny thing is that the people who own the rights to the songs are cracking down on notation found on the net. They believe that they own the rights to those as well. They obviously want people to buy the books, which basically I could agree with if the notation was correct in the first place, but it isn’t.