alan w. pollack's
notes on ...

Notes on "And I Love Her"


Notes on ... Series #3.3 (AILH.3)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: E Major / c# minor -» F Major / d minor
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge |
                  | Verse | Verse (instrumental) |
                  | Verse | Outro (with complete ending)
        CD: "A Hard Day's Night", Track 5 (Parlophone CDP7 46437-2)
  Recorded: 25th - 27th February 1964, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 10th July 1964 (LP "A Hard Day's Night")
US-release: 26th July 1964 (LP "A Hard Day's Night")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note With "And I Love Her" we move still earlier in the songbook to the first of Macca's unabashed original love songs to be released, and an equally early example of a kind of Major/minor key harmonic twist that emerges as a much favored stylistic technique of their's over the long run.
  Next note Indeed, the plaintive bitter-sweetness of "And I Love Her" derives in large measure from it's tonal ambiguity; is it in a Major or minor key?
  Next note The song continually flip-flops back and forth between a minor key (c# minor) and its relative Major (E Major). Another major point of interest (and source of ambiguity) in this song is that it makes a delicious modulation up one-half step at the beginning of the guitar break, but more on that later.
  Next note The form is unusual: one bridge, only, with two verses preceding and three verses following; and the middle verse of the final three scored for guitar solo. The first three of the four verses set to words feature different lyrics in a verbal pattern of "I," "She," and "the stars." The final verse repeats the "stars" lyric.
  Next note The alternate version released on "Anthology 1" features the following major differences:
  • The form does not contain the familiar intro, outro, or bridge.
  • The string of three verses precedes the guitar solo.
  • The backing track is the more standard electric guitar trio plus full drum set, making the whole thing feel much less gentle even though the tempo is very close to that of the official version.
  • The introductory hook for lead guitar is not in evidence.

Major/minor Relatives, Modulations, and Pivot Chords Defined

  [Technical Background Mode On]
  Next note Major and minor keys are said to be mutual relatives then they share the same key signature — e.g. C Major/a minor, F Major/d minor etc.
  Next note Implicit in the sharing of a key signature is the fact that they share the same chords, although each chord has a different harmonic/grammatical meaning — i.e. crudely put, a different Roman numeral — depending on which mode you're in. For example, in the pair of keys C Major/a minor, the d minor triad is common to both but it's the ii chord of C and the iv chord of A.
  Next note The ample selection of common chords in this situation makes it very easy to modulate between the two keys. Such chords are called pivot chords when they're used to effect a smooth modulation from one key to another. In terms of aural perception, one experiences such a chord initially in the old key, but within the following two chords, one retrospectively hears it as part of the new key; a kind of harmonic pun.
  [Technical Background Mode Off]

Melody and Harmony

  Next note The verse tune is shot through with McCartneyesque appoggiaturas and has the melodic contour of a sophisticated sine curve; the first three phrases reiterate an upward trajectory from mid range, with the final two phrases picking up at the top, traveling all the way down to a low point roughly symmetrical to the earlier peak, finally tying things up right back around the mid point. The bridge tune, by contrast, features a triadic pattern in fixed range.
  Next note The six chords common between E Major and c# minor are the primary harmonic vocabulary: E, f#, g#, A, B, and c#.


  Next note The conspicuously sparse backing track contains acoustic lead and rhythm guitars, electric bass, and in the percussion department nothing more than the gentle tapping of claves (small cylindrical wood blocks).
  Next note Paul's lead vocal is double tracked throughout. There are no backing voices.
  Next note Resting "on one" becomes a subtle motif for the song; both the opening guitar hook as well as every single one of the vocal phrases begins with a rest on the first or third beat of the measure.
  Next note Other details in the arrangement:
  • The intro/outro guitar hook appears only in verses 1 and 3.
  • The delicate arpeggio figure that appears throughout verse 2 is delayed a couple measures from entering in verses 3 and 5.
  • The bridge features prominent, slow strumming of rhythm guitar chords on the downbeat. The same gesture reappears for the final chord.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note The four-measure intro repeats the following progression of two chords. I think one hears it as a "weak" (i.e. non-dominant, not even Plagal) cadence toward the Major:
       ------------------------ 2X ------------------------
      |f#           |-           |E           |-           |
   E:  ii                         I

   [Figure 3.1]
  Next note I won't dwell on it, but starting on a non-I chord in this context is itself ambiguous. Think about it: if you stop the song after the first chord, what key would you think you were in?
  Next note The guitar lands with the note C# on the downbeat of each chord change. In the case of f#-minor, that note is part of the chord, but in the case of E-Major, that C# turns the chord into an added sixth; strange shades of "She Loves You".


  Next note The verse is an unusual ten measures long and is built out of five short phrases in a pattern of AA'ABC:
      |f#    |c#    |f#    |c#    |f#    |c#    |A     |B     |
   E:  ii                                        IV     V
   c#: iv     i      iv     i      iv     i      VI

      |E     |-     |
   E:  I

   [Figure 3.2]
  Next note Coming off of the intro we think we're in the key of E Major, but as soon as the verse begins we find that the f#-minor chord moves to the c#-minor chord in a IV -» I ("Plagal") cadence; this is repeated three times and I think one gets the definite sensation of being grounded in the relative minor. And yet, in the last line of the verse we move from the c#-minor chord to a straightforward IV -» V -» I cadence right back into E Major again. All this goes down quite smoothly because of the pivots which are schematically shown above.


  Next note The bridge is a four-square eight measures long with a phrasing pattern of ABBC:
      |c#    |B     |c#    |g#    |c#    |g#    |B     |-     |
   E:  vi     V      vi     iii    vi     iii    V

   [Figure 3.3]
  Next note Both verse and bridge have similar patterns of harmonic rhythm; steady throughout but with the final chord sustained for two measures.
  Next note The contour of the chord progression in this bridge closely echoes that of the verse; down a step, back up, down a fourth, etc. I don't believe that the composer actually sits there and conceptualizes this, but I also don't believe it's a random coincidence, and it does provide a source of subliminal unity. The harmonic shape converges on the V chord of the Major key, but the direction is unsettled up until that point; with the c# chord of the relative minor filling three of the eight measures, and the music threatening even to modulate to the unusual key of g#.
  Next note The transition from this bridge to the verse that follows provides yet another harmonic tease with the V chord denied an immediate resolution to E Major, with the next verse leading off, as usual, with its Plagal cadence in the key of the relative minor.

Guitar Solo

  Next note Instead of a repeat of the bridge, we get a verse-worth's of guitar solo. But not so fast — in the instant in which the guitar solo commences, the music neatly modulates up one half step; if the original key pair was E/c#, we're now in F/d; from the world of four sharps to one of one flat.
  Next note While such upshifts for later verses have been a staple of the two-minute love song since the fifties, this one is unusual because the first chord in the new key is its IV chord. It's a real attention grabber because it contains no notes in common with the previous key. In this specific case, we're talking about a g-minor chord (g - b - flat-d) plunked down in a neighborhood of four sharps! A sort of triple cross relation.
  Next note Once we get a few bars further and the new tonal plane is established it's no big deal in retrospect; you'd have to listen to the song several times in a loop to necessarily notice that you've ended up higher. Nonetheless, the moment of impact of that g triad is special. If I got away with calling the refrain of "We Can Work It Out" a time warp, then this one is the harmonic equivalent.


  Next note There is one final verse following the solo in which everything is as before except that the music is transposed a half tone higher, followed by an outro very similar to the introduction with one critical difference:
      |g     |-     |F     |-     |g     |-     |D-Major|-     |
   F:  ii            I             ii
   d:                              iv            I#3

   [Figure 3.4]
  Next note The song ends ironically on the Major "flavor" of the relative minor; I would half expect the sheet music to contain a smiley emoticon at the end. This gambit has been around since the Baroque period in which it was considered dissonant to end on a minor chord so many pieces in minor keys ended in those days in this manner — the fancy term for this is the Picardy Third, no kidding.

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note So what's The Answer? Which relative key is the song in; Major or minor? Consider the evidence:
  • The intro is in the Major.
  • The verse is in the minor for more than half its length yet always shifts to the Major at the end.
  • The bridge equivocates at first, then comes around to the Major, only to go right into another verse with its predominant minor opening.
  • There is only one bridge section, but there are five verses including the guitar solo.
  • In my humble opinion, the upshift modulation is irrelevant to the Major/Minor question and was added in to relieve what otherwise would have been a tedium of too many verses in a row without break.
  • The outro, while ending on the root of the Minor, is nonetheless a Major chord.
  • On the one hand, if you tally the total number of measures appearing in minor-versus-Major keys, then minor wins out. On the other hand, the Major key is clearly established repeatedly by the strong IV -» V -» I cadences, whereas the V chord of the minor key appears nowhere at all.
  Next note If you insist on my making a binary decision, I'd hesitantly give it to the minor key "on points" (like a boxing match), but it's kind of moot; I myself was recently willing to actually reverse this standing opinion of more than ten years in order to give it to the Major key.
  Next note Don't be fooled or confused. It's the ambiguity per se here that is germane.
  Next note Uncannily, the opening song of Robert Schumann's (1810 - 1856) "Dichterliebe" (Poet's Love) has a very similar tonal design to "And I Love Her".
  Next note Schumann's song is called "Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai" (In the wonderfully-beautiful month of May ...). Schumann's song also creates an overall feeling of being in the relative minor key, even though there is no full cadence ever made to the minor key (its V is always left hanging), and his verse section immediately moves to a full cadence in the relative Major. Instead of a Picardy Third ending, Schumann ends the song on V7 of the relative minor; a ballsey move for mid-19th century.
  Next note Anyway, if it's good enough for Robert Schumann ...
  Alan (030800#3.3)
Revision History
061489 3.0 Original release
022700 3.1 Expand, revise, and adapt to series template
030600 3.2 Reverse yet again the Major/minor "decision on points,"
           and add comment re: Schumann Dichterliebe
030800 3.3 Fix garbled statement re: reversed major/minor call
Copyright © 2000 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.