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notes on ...

Notes on "I'll Get You"


Notes on ... Series #34.1 (IGY.1)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: D Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse |
                  | Outro (with complete ending)
        CD: "Past Masters", Volume 1, Track 5 (Parlophone CDP 90043-2)
  Recorded: 1st July 1963, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 23rd August 1963 (B Single / "She Loves You")
US-release: 16th September 1963 (B Single / "She Loves You")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note This is an extremely straightforward if not plain-and-simple song in terms of almost any compositional metric by which you'd want to measure it. And still, it is full of trademark details which indelibly mark it as an early Beatles song.
  Next note Both the higher-level form and the inner construction of the individual sections are quite standard, though the manner in which the "Oh yeah!" motif of the intro is worked smoothly into the flow of the verse is a clever touch.
  Next note The form is the short, single bridge model.
  Next note The lyrics of the three verses create a pattern of ABA. The verses have an identical, refrain-like ending.
  Next note All sections commence rhythmically with a pickup ahead of the downbeat.


  Next note The tune is centered within a D-to-D octave, though the verse endings open up additional space at the bottom, and the bridge likewise opens up the high end.
  Next note The song is firmly, unrelievedly in the key of D Major and only about a half-dozen chords are used throughout. In this light, the number of chords which appear with spicy embellishment is notable; e.g. the added sixth chord on I (D), a Major seventh on IV (G), and a dominant 7/9 chord on the V-of-V (E).
  Next note Most unusual and forward-looking in terms of what would later emerge as a favorite item in the Beatles bag of harmonic tricks is the use of a minor v chord in the verse section (measure 10), despite the Major mode of the home key; thus adding a surprise modal/bluesy inflection to the music.


  Next note The arrangement has a rather nondescript backing track, yet paradoxically — or should we say, inconsistently — sports a number of fussy details.
  Next note Although the bass part is both active and prominently mixed forward, the rhythm guitar and drums for the most part get to do no more than strum or stroke — as the case may be — in even eighth notes. Furthermore, to my ears at any rate, there's no sign of a part for lead guitar; where indeed was George that day?
  Next note The harmonica is used differently here from what we've become used to in other Beatles songs. On the one hand, the harmonica does not get to play any memorable hook phrase, but it does appear unsparingly used throughout, except for a brief rest during the bridge. To the extent that John too sings throughout, I've got to assume that this harmonica part was overdubbed separately; or else, maybe that's what George was playing for this session :-)
  Next note The sort of handclaps seen earlier in "Love Me Do" and "I Saw Her Standing There" appear here only in the intro as a surrogate percussion part. Conversely, it is not until the end of the intro that the drums, with a solitary little fill, make their entrance.
  Next note John and Paul sing a duet literally throughout, so that variety is provided by the two voices alternating frequently between singing in unison, at the octave, and in brief yet colorful splashes of two-part harmony.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note In only four measures, this intro establishes the key and introduces the "oh yeah" hook phrase that recurs both at end of each verse and in the outro.
  Next note The same dotted rhythmic figure seen earlier in "There's A Place" to convey self-assurance is used here to similar effect. It appears right off in the bass part of this intro and is used frequently in the melody of both verse and bridge sections.


  Next note The verse is sixteen measures long and built out of four phrases equal in length:
      |D     |-     |G     |A     ||D     |b     |G     |A     ||
   D:  I             IV     V       I      vi     IV     V

      |D     |a     |D     |b     ||G     |A     |D     |A     ||
       I      v      I      vi      IV     V      I      V

   [Figure 34.1]
  Next note The number of melodic appoggiaturas is pervasive, thematic, and a large part of the reason for all the embellished chords mentioned above; it makes for an interesting comparison with the later "We Can Work It Out". Examples here include:
  • the use of B in the melody on top of the D chord in measures 2 and 11,
  • the F# on top of the A chord in measures 4, 8, and 14,
  • the E on top of the D chord in measures 5, and
  • the G on top of the D chord in measure 9.
  Next note Melodically, each eight-measure pairing of phrases presents its own symmetric arch. As a matter of good dramatic practice, the higher melodic peak is saved for the second of the two arches.


  Next note This bridge is a rather archetypal middle eight in which, instead of harmonic modulation, we simply converge back toward the home key after starting the section away from it. Note in particular the drawn out build up toward the V chord:
   |G7    |-     |D     |-     ||E9    |-     |A     |-     ||
    IV            I              V-of-V        V

   [Figure 34.2]
  Next note We have a wonderful demonstration here of the powerful effect that harmony can have on your perception of the melody which it accompanies; hardly a phenomenon unique to the Beatles, but this just happens to be an unusually good "textbook" example. To wit, the melody of this bridge contains the same three note descending figure — f# -» e -» d — repeated three times, each time over a different chord (G, D, and E); and note, how different in a rhetorical sense the melodic figure sounds with each change of chord.
  Next note There is an obvious word collision between the singers in this section followed by what sounds like a very brief instant of confusion — perhaps one of them thought to stop — before composure was regained. With examples like this, who needs outtakes? :-)


  Next note As with both verse and bridge, this outro is a fairly standard specimen of its genre; growing directly out of the end of the final verse and repeating the last phrase three times.
  Next note The harmonica is left still sounding after all else has halted.

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note I don't know if I can use the following term without sounding more harsh than intended, but I'll dare say that "I'll Get You" was a bit of a "pot boiler." It was originally released as the B-side to "She Loves You", and both the music and recording of "I'll Get You" have definite earmarks of a rush job which they must have assumed nobody would ever notice; I can just imagine someone in the studio wondering aloud to the effect of, "who listens to the B-side of a 'single', anyway?"
  Next note That's not to say that it's necessarily not a "good" song; merely that mapped against the steep growth trajectory they had so quickly established for themselves by this point, "I'll Get You", if not entirely off the pace, surely catches them in the act of treading water.
  Next note The impressive aspect of this, which should not be lost sight of, is that they had by this point established for themselves not only a "name" but also a genuine musical style, more than just a bunch of hackneyed mannerisms. And that on their occasional off day in which they really might not mind being more derivative than original for a change, this song demonstrates that they already had their own unique set of ingredients from which to crib and re-fashion.
  Alan (032701#34.1)
Revision History
090391 34.0 Original release
032701 34.1 Add pass-two observations and copy edit
Copyright © 2001 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.