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notes on ...

Notes on "All I've Got To Do"

 





Notes on ... Series #36 (AIGTD)
  by Alan W. Pollack
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       Key: E Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse | Bridge |
                  | Verse / Outro (fade-out)
        CD: "With The Beatles", Track 2 (Parlophone CDP7 46436-2)
  Recorded: 11th September 1963, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 22nd November 1963 (LP "With The Beatles")
US-release: 20th January 1964 (LP "Meet The Beatles")
 
1

General Points of Interest

 

Style and Form

  Next note This song retains a strongly exotic flavor from the combination of several factors: the pentatonic mode of the melody, the Major/minor by-play of the harmony, and the belly-dancer-like syncopation of the rhythm.
  Next note We have yet another example here where the bridge is repeated but separated by only a single verse section; this time, I believe the reluctance to provide that additional verse is motivated by the slowness of the harmonic rhythm throughout the song.
  Next note Two small but creative twists are applied to the otherwise straightforward short form: the strange opening that's not quite a full intro, and the manner in which the final verse, arranged as it is with a wordlessly hummed vocal, fades out in mid-section.
 

Melody

  Next note The melodic material of the song is almost entirely from the pentatonic scale; think of it as the all "black note" scale starting on F#, but transposed here to the key of E. This spell is broken is for only a couple of D#'s in the verse (see the harmonization of the title phrase below), one of which is a juicy appoggiatura.
  Next note Just as we recently observed in "I'll Get You", the melody of this song contains a higher than average quotient of appoggiaturas; this time let's leave the locating of them all as what used to quaintly be described as an exercise for the reader.
 

Harmony

  Next note Most of the work here is done by three chords, I, IV, and vi (E, A, and c#), with a little help from their friends, ii and V (f# and B). In addition to the naturally occurring Major IV chord, we also have near the end of the verse an appearance of the borrowed minor iv chord, this one motivated by chromatic downward motion of an inner voice.
  Next note There is no small amount of ambiguity as to whether the song is in E Major or its relative minor key of c#; a by-product of the way in which phrases of the verse start off on vi, and the virtual absence throughout the song of firm V -» I chord cadences which would have more clearly established E as the home key. This exploitation of the vi/I chords was something which Lennon and McCartney leaned on heavily during this period; see for other examples, "From Me To You", "She Loves You", and "It Won't Be Long".
  Next note The opening chord is one of those sonorities that defies a neat textbook analysis. Spelled from the bottom up, it's E - C# - F - A; an augmented triad on C# suspended over an E in the bass. In practical terms, the note on the bottom gives John the cue note for his vocal, and the augmented triad above it works as an aurally acceptable albeit surprising surrogate IV-like antecedent to the c# chord which leads off the verse.
 

Arrangement

  Next note John's single-tracked solo vocal is sensually accompanied by a brief bit of counterpoint from Paul in the verse, and by the chordal accompaniment of both Paul and George in the bridge.
  Next note The vocal counterpoint of the verse starts off as plain parallel thirds, but then changes over to trademark-Beatles parallel fourths by virtue of Paul briefly holding over one note (marked with an asterisk in the transcription below) and then following the pentatonic scale downward the rest of the way:
 
       "All  I've got to  do    ...."
   Paul:  G# F#   E   F# |F#    E    *  C#     B  |C# B  G#
   John:  E  D#   C#  D# |D#    C#   B  G#     F# |G# F# E

   [Figure 36.1]
  Next note Paul plays double stops on his bass in the portion of the verse in which the c# and E chords alternate; the root notes of each chord are on the bottom and a common note between them, G#, appears on top.
  Next note Syncopated emphasis on the eighth note between the second and third beats of the measure (on "two-and") is a subtle leitmotif of the song. It is delivered primarily in the form of damped high-hat cymbal slashes from Ringo, but there are places, such as the second half of the bridge, where the bass and rhythm guitar maintain the pattern even while Ringo has switched for the moment to more evenly played eighth-note tapping.
2

Section-by-Section Walkthrough

 

Verse

  Next note This verse is an asymmetrical eleven measures long. Its first phrase is a standard four-measure but is followed by two more phrases of uneven length; first the two-measure title phrase, and then an unusual five-measure phrase that is rhetorically elongated by the repetition of material in measures 7 - 8, on the words: "Call you on the phone, and you'll be running home." Note, by the way, how this point of expansiveness coincides with the location of where the hard syncopation is given a brief rest:
 
    m.1
      |c#     |-      |E      |-      |
   E:  vi              I

    m.5
      |c#     |-      |
       vi

    m.7
      |f#     |       |a      |E      |-      |
       ii              iv      I

   [Figure 36.2]
  Next note The home key of E is established harmonically only by indirect means; the verse opens with a chord that is not the I chord of the home key, and the V chord never appears until the end of the bridge.
 

Bridge

  Next note This bridge creates the early impression of intending to perhaps stray far and long from the home key, but by the beginning of the second of its two four-measure phrases, it clearly begins moving steadily back toward E. The B chord in measure 8 is the only appearance in the song of the V chord:
 
   |A             |-             |c#            |-             |
    IV                            vi

   |A             |E      c#     |A             |E      B      |
    IV             I      vi      VI             I      V

   [Figure 36.3]
  Next note There are two deft variations applied to the repeat of the bridge. Melodically, John modifies the phrase on the words "I'll be here" so that it creates a new high point. And formalistically, the last sub-phrase is repeated, lending a free-verse rhetorical feeling to the section rather similar to that felt in the second half of the verse.
 

Final Verse / Outro

  Next note In context of the rest of their original songs recorded to this point in time, the humming and early fade of this section are both novel and unprecedented little experiments, particularly significant for the continued creative trend which they presage.
3

A Final Thought

  Next note I'd also suggest that the hummed ending here is more than just a clever device for its own sake, but that it rather effectively drives home the underlying self-satisfied subtext of the lyrics; to the extent that some things in life, such as the comfortable equilibrium of a relationship between helpmates, defy completely adequate expression in words.
  Regards,
  Alan (100191#36)
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Copyright © 1991 by Alan W. Pollack. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.