“What Do They Have In Common?”, ep. 3

From: Dan

To: Ian, Miah, Raja

From: Ian

To: Dan, Miah, Raha

I'm not quite ready to answer yet, but today is my birthday, and I can think of nothing I would rather get on my birthday than an email from Dan with the subject "What do they have in common?". I'm not being sarcastic.

From: Miah

To: Dan, Ian, Raja

You're probably hoping for a more complicated answer, but they all lay on the A minor very thick, yet manage to surprise you with an A major?

From: Dan

To: Ian, Miah, Raja

Yes indeed, they are all different ways prominently featuring a I in a minor-key song.

"Things We Said Today" is definitely a minor → major key change:


S[C]omeday when we're d[C7]reaming, 
D[F]eep in love, not a [Bb]lot to say.
T[Am]hen we w[Em]ill re[Am]member things we s[Em]aid to[A]day.

Me[A] I'm just the luc[D]ky kind, 
[B7]love to hear you sa[E7]y that love is lov[A]e,
And though we may[D] be blind, 
[B7] is here to [Bb7]stay and that's e...

[Am]'nough to [Em]make you [Am]mine girl...

...and actually as interesting Beatles chords go, it's not my favorite. The same transition happens in "I Me Mine", and I like it better, but I used "Things We Said Today" since it's just a hair more clear; you can (weakly) argue that the chorus in "I Me Mine" is an ambiguous A blues, and there's so much D major and E major in the verse that it's not trivially in A minor:


...[Am]All [AmM7] through the day [Am7] [AmM6],
I me min[Fmaj7]e.

[A7]I me me mine, I me me mine,
[D7]I me me mine, [A7]I me me mine. [E7]

[Am]All  I can [D7]hear,
I me mine[G], I me [E7]mine, I me mine.[Am]

Gangnam Style I'd say doesn't really change key, but uses a progression that's used a zillion times and always resolves to the i, but here resolves to the I:


[Bm]Bami omyeon shimjangi teojyeobeorineun sana-i
[Bm]Keureon sana-i [E5] [F#5]

Areum[G]dawo sarangseur[A]eowo
Keurae [B]neo hey keurae baro neo hey...

In the minor key, we'd call it VI VII I (G A B); in the major key we'd call it bVI bVII I (as per Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home"). Either way, If you'd never heard the song before and I paused it right before the B, you'd bet your car that a Bm was coming next.

House of Cards is somewhere in between:

It's hanging on an F that resolves earlier in the song to an Am, but this time resolves to an A... although it's hard to say if it really changes key, since it keeps going back to the F.

Also if you haven't watched it, the show is as good as its intro theme.

From: Raja

To: Dan, Ian, Miah

The idea of an Am song that awesomely features a brief detour to A major calls to mind one of the verses in Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" – see the first verse after the chorus:


Does that make me [Cm]crazy?
Does that make me [Eb]crazy?
Does that make me [Ab]crazy??

And I [C]hope that you are having the time of your [Ab]life
But think [Eb]twice, that's my only adv[G]ice
[Cm]Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are?

I just started watching House of Cards a couple weeks ago. I recently got into an "argument" with some friends about the opening credits. I am not a fan, mostly because they're too long, seem to be derivative (or a mashup) of Homeland / Mad Men credits, and I hate that electric guitar chord that sort of comes in out of nowhere towards the very end. But if that's the worst thing about a show, they're doing all right.

From: Dan

To: Ian, Miah, Raja

Oh goodness that C major in Crazy is insane, good find. I can't decide how I feel about it. I like the idea, but I think I prefer my hip-hop diatonic. Do the kids still say "hip-hop"? Do the kids still say "diatonic"?

Also re: House of Cards; I love that the guitar comes out of nowhere. It reminds me of my all-time favorite heavily-distorted-electric-guitar-that-comes-out-of-nowhere-at-the-end-of-a-song moment:

Be sure to stop listening before the horrid guttural noises. Or, if you prefer a gratuitous bicycle instead of an electric guitar, there's this:

From: Ian

To: Dan, Raja, Miah

There's another way I've heard the major tonic used in a minor key song: as a secondary dominant. A good example of this is "The Way":


They [F#m]made up their minds, and they started [Bm]packing
They [C#7]left before the sun came up that [F#m]day
An [F#]exit to eternal summer [Bm]slacking
But [F#m]where were they going with[C#7]out ever
Knowing the [F#m]way?

I'm sure there are plenty more, though...

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