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Thread: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

  1. #1
    working musician Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Always curious about the bVII-IV-I progression (eg D-A-E) that has dominated popular music since the '60s, I had (with no research) lived my life assuming that The Beatles first came up with it (With a Little Help from My Friends).
    Today I discovered this
    Bb-F-C Schubert
    which pre-dates The Beatles by about 150 years. (I had been listening to hours of Schubert on Spotify, but boy, did those couple of bars jump out at me!)

    Schubert aside, did The Beatles "come up with it"? Or had the progression already entered the musical vocabulary of the day, and if so, who gets credit for being first?

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Funny thing, I was just thinking about this an hour ago, because of "Sgt. Pepper." I'm rerunning a list on facebook of albums that influenced me - an intriguing project from last year at this time, which I had to leave off when life intruded on fun. It was supposed to be ten albums but grew to fifty or so, because ... well, because. "Sgt. Pepper" was #10 on the list, and I was just getting started. It's coming up today, so it was on my mind.

    And that song, with that chord progression, reminded me of other examples. My go-to is "All Right Now" by Free. Not only is the intro/travelling riff killer, but the chorus takes that and turns it into something even more. One of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs, "How Many More Times," uses it a lot, as the resolution of the chorus, and also quite dramatically in the coda. This bit of business got used a lot in the late 1960s. The Who, The James Gang, so many. When it started? I'll have to get back to you. But I'll bet it's in an Elvis song or two.

    I wrote a song that was entirely that progression, in my first batch of songs, whilst in the throes of pre-teen lovelorn angst and also in imagined competition with The Beatles ("They ain't all that. I can write songs better than them.") That would place it in 1964, maybe 1965. This was before I even knew how to play an instrument, and three years before Mandolin Consciousness began. Indeed, I didn't know how to play it till the early 1970s. Oh, I knew how it went, I could hear it clearly in my mind, but I didn't understand the progression, being it's not enharmonic. I didn't correlate it with other songs I'd heard and kept hearing until I had some sort of "Aha" moment, and realized I had known it all along. It was also a Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment. I'm saying all this not by way of averring I'm some sort of musical genius (some other time for that ), but to assert that that progression must have been around, on the airwaves or in the ambient ether, and it found its way into my mind. That is, I must have picked it up somewhere. I'll do some ruminating and see what I find.

    PS: On a corollary note, when you have a chance. listen to the conclusion of Beethoven's 1st Symphony in C. It sounds for all the world like The Who, with this distinct F-C, G-C riff. Imagine Townshend slamming those chords.
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    working musician Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Now that I'm finally doing some research...

    With a Little Help from My Friends was released in 1967.
    The Spencer Davis Group's Somebody Help Me was released in 1966.

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    I - bVII- IV in Gloria (Them)- 1964. The I - bVII riff in tunes like My Generation (Who). And probably many others.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    I feel like I should be able to come up with several, but am not succeeding. Gloria is close. More than one song uses that sequence. The Four Tops' "Reach Out" uses the minor V instead of the VII, but otherwise is the sane effect. It feels certain some song from the early 60s folk scene uses the one in question.

    In music from the classical period, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven as well, the harmony in the restated melody (recap) usually goes down via the lowered seventh, and this sequence shows up often.
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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    bVII- IV- I has been around for a long time in folk songs and classical music.. The Beatles didn't invent it. "Love Please Come Home" used it in a 1957 recording.

    Theory-wise, the bVII is a secondary subdominant leading to the subdominant (IV/IV). It is also called a mixolydian progression, as it is major with a flat 7.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    "Hey Joe" (copyrighted 1962) takes this progression to an almost absurd extent, two steps further : F - C - G - D - A is how I play it.

    Also in 1962, the original recorded version of "Morning Dew" by Bonnie Dobson. She premiered it in 1961 at the Mariposa Folk Festival.

    PS: The Beatles used the progression again later, more prominently and rather famously, in the end part of "Hey Jude."
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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    I guess that was the progression in The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony which was the focus of a lawsuit involving the Rolling Stones' The Last Time.

    Sympathy for the Devil was also mentioned, and it also bears a resemblance
    Bren

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Felling Groovy is another one from the same period. Cherry Cherry by Neil Diamond is similar but ordered a little differently.

    I believe it is called plagal cadence in music theory. At least Hey Joe is. It is moving forward by fifths or else the fourth leading to the one. It is the opposite of the Circle of Fifths or the Salty Dog progression (3-6-2-5-1)(BEADG) that is common in jazz and ragtime.

    I do not believe Morning Dew is this cadence. It is mixolydian, like I Know You Rider or If I Were a Carpenter or Amie or Buy for Me the Rain or Seven Bridges Road or a bunch of other songs of that time. I think Gloria is in this group.
    Last edited by CarlM; May-10-2021 at 2:19am.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post

    I do not believe Morning Dew is this cadence. It is mixolydian, like I Know You Rider or If I Were a Carpenter or Amie or Buy for Me the Rain or Seven Bridges Road or a bunch of other songs of that time. I think Gloria is in this group.
    Thanks Carl.
    As an amateur slow learner on theory , I guess these songs like Gloria actually start on the I chord.
    Although that is more of a riff than a harmony in my mind.

    whereas with e.g. Hey Joe (Hendrix recording) you can hear the shift to a non-tonic chord before he starts singing.
    Bren

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    I'm hoping this discussion doesn't devolve into the unholy mess that another recent thread became.

    Carl is correct to mention the plagal cadence, which is IV-I. That's dropping a fourth, or five semitones. The progression mentioned in the OP is composed of two successive cadences: bVII-IV (dropping a fourth, or five semitones) then IV-I. Picking a key at random, D, that would be C-G-D.

    Transposing the songs Carl mentions into D for simplicity's sake, and disregarding modes for the same reason, the songs Carl mentions in his third paragraph contain this progression, in part. "Gloria," of course, is all this progression, the way Them did it.

    D C G D
    Walk me out in the morning dew my honey

    D C G D
    I know you rider gonna miss me when I'm gone

    D C G D
    Would you marry me anyway, would you have my baby

    D C G D C G
    Amie, what you wanna do ... I think I could stay with you

    D C G D C G
    Buy for me the rain, my darling, buy for me rain

    D C G D
    There are stars in the southern sky

    D C G D C G D C G D
    Let me tell you 'bout my baby You know she comes around

    also, the Stones songs bren mentions belong in this category:

    D C G D C G
    Well I told you once and I told you twice

    D C G D
    Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "Feelin' Groovy" and "Cherry Cherry" are not in this group, even if their progressions include what appears to be this cadence, due to the location of the tone center. If I were to use the same chords, these songs would be in the key of G, not D.

    C G D G C G D G
    Slow down, you move too fast ... you've got to make the morning last

    G C D C G C D C
    Baby loves me, yes yes she does

    You can see how "Feelin' Groovy" includes a section with the chords C G D in a row. But it is in G, not D, so that aspect is irrelevant. "Cherry Cherry" doesn't even contain the cadence. The D C G bit would have a D next if it did, but it doesn't. Either way, these are not the kind of songs that follow the OP's pattern.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    PS: While composing this post, I forgot about the need to insert spacers in order to preserve the layout as seen in the composition screen. You can see this if you click on the "Reply With Quote" button (please cancel after viewing), or look at the screen shots I've attached. It would be a godawfully painstaking task to insert the spacers now. Thanks for bearing with me on this.
    Last edited by journeybear; May-10-2021 at 8:18am. Reason: remembered I forgot something
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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Felling Groovy is another one from the same period. Cherry Cherry by Neil Diamond is similar but ordered a little differently.

    I believe it is called plagal cadence in music theory.
    Correct. And the "bVII - IV - I" is a double plagal cadence.

    Somewhere on the web is an analysis of the Beatles' music and it uses this term.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    And the "bVII - IV - I" is a double plagal cadence.
    Is the term "double perfect cadence" ever used, or is it always just called the "V of the V"?

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Is the term "double perfect cadence" ever used, or is it always just called the "V of the V"?
    I prefer the V of V; for example, the bridge to "I Got Rhythm" in Bb is D7 /G7/ C7 / F7 /

    which is V of V of V of V; V of V of V ; V of V; V

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    This article on the flatted seventh chord may be of some interest.

    https://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes...-seventh.shtml
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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Is the term "double perfect cadence" ever used, or is it always just called the "V of the V"?
    V/V to V to I would be a "double authentic" cadence, not a "double perfect". I've never heard it called that, though.

    IV/IV to IV to I would only be a double plagal cadence if it is at the end of a phrase. The progression can be used anyplace, but it wouldn't be called a cadence except at the end of a phrase. Same with V/V.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Funny that the Soundscapes article doesn't mention Gloria, which seems to be a pretty defining and influential example of the double plagal progression.

    I tend to think of songs (like Gloria) that have no V chord in them as simply being mixolydian, with the bVII not considered as an "altered" or "borrowed" chord.
    Started me wondering (I could do the research, but more fun to simply ask here): are the terms "tonic", "dominant" etc used in analyzing modal music? I can handle E being called the tonic in Gloria, but calling Dm the tonic in So What seems, I don't know, misplaced somehow.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    There are songs that have no V chord in them and also are not mixolydian. It's not clear if you are restricting your premise to the double plagal cadence.

    Bob Dylan's "She Belongs To Me" is a famous example.

    ..............C
    She's got everything she needs,
    .............F............................C
    She's an artist, she don't look back.
    ..............F
    She's got everything she needs,
    ..........................................C
    She's an artist, she don't look back.
    .........................D
    She can take the dark out of the nighttime
    .......F.......................C
    And paint the daytime black.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    It's not clear if you are restricting your premise to the double plagal cadence.
    I suppose that I am, given that all the notes of the scale are played when this progression is used.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    OK ... I fear we're going to veer into a discussion of enharmonic equivalence. The mixolydian mode does include these three major chords, yet I don't think these songs sound mixolydian. I think the ♭VII chord is being used as a sort of accidental, a substitution for the V chord for dramatic effect.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Even though these songs do not sound mixolydian I have come to see them that way because that is the scale when trying to improvise over these progressions. I had quite a bit of difficulty soloing over them when I first encountered them because a D major scale definitely does not work over them yet treating them as G major did not quite cover it. Once I was given an explanation of the idea of the modes, particularly mixolydian it started to make more sense. The songs were in D but with a flatted 7th rather than G major.

    The meandering discussion can be useful because there is more than one way to view all of these things with different ideas overlaid on one another. One understanding or another may be useful in a given situation. Each person may understand them from a different angle.

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    ...yet I don't think these songs sound mixolydian.
    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Even though these songs do not sound mixolydian...
    Just curious, not trying to "start something", but how does a song like Gloria not sound mixolydian? What constitutes sounding mixolydian?

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)





    I dunno. Perhaps "Gloria" just sounds so straight-ahead, with very little melody. There is something mysterious about the organ part in the second verse, though.

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coronado View Post
    This article on the flatted seventh chord may be of some interest.

    https://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes...-seventh.shtml
    Good article indeed - and it mentions the Beatles' use of the double plagal changes.

  37. #25

    Default Re: bVII—IV—I (NMC)

    Google "plagal cascade". It's all over the place, and predates the Beatles. This 3-chord version is just the end of it. When I think of the three chord version I first think of The Beatles Polythene Pam. A longer cascade is Hey Joe (recorded by Jimi Hendrix in 1966 but copyrighted by Bill Roberts in 1962; possibly written well before that.)

    Frankly, any phrase of three simple chords is going to have very old roots, especially with such an important interval.

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