REVOLUTION NUMBER 9
BY IAN HAMMOND
Get Back Jo Jo
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This is the ninth article in a series examining Lennon's Revolution
9. Conventions are explained at the end of this article.
The Beatles As Musicians (BAM) Update
In his recent book The Beatles As Musicians, Walter Everett
identifies two new sources, including their exact recordings (a
Everett treats the initial dialog between Martin and Taylor as a
prelude, rather than as the beginning of the first section, and thus
starts counting 10 seconds later than I do.
The Backward Piano, L4, at 0:31 in section 1.1 is identified as a
fragment from Schumann's Symphonic Etudes for piano, recorded by
Myra Hess on EMI. It's scored in Db minor (which is why I missed it
when I hunted through my Schumann scores: I was looking for sections
of c# minor).
The Fanfare at 1:06 etc is identified as Vaughan-Williams motet O Clap
Your Hands, recorded by Kings College Choir.
Everett does not identify the Landler at 3.11 as coming from
Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. I noted the differences in orchestration
of that passage in part six of this series (string bass instead of
BAM includes a transcription of Lennon and Harrison's dialog text. I
haven't had time to cross-check it. In fact, because of pressure of
time I've omitted most of the text in these last articles.
The third section was initially planned as the coda, with Lennon
finishing on the words take this brother. However, Lennon appended a
new closing section (you become naked) and reworked this area as a
The work has been progressing for five minutes at this point. It's
worth noting that Lennon's energy is not fading. On the contrary, he's
starting to pick up. Structurally, this section does what the best
pieces of dramatic music do: it starts to make sense within the system
of logic that it has itself built up.
Section three is formed of three 40 second strips rather than the two
one minute strips we might expect. Truncation is not unusual toward
the end of a longer piece. These strips omit some of the usual detail,
partly because they are shorter, and because each has a very well
3.1 5.00 Hoses
3.2 5.40 Fire & Shooting
3.3 6.20 Stretto & Close
4.1 7.00 Coda
4.2 8.00 Outro
Lennon adapts the first strip to serve as a brilliant extension of the
stretto climax of section two. The Hoses dub is a stroke of simple
genius. The strip ends on a remarkable unison of disparate voices
(again). A typical Home area leads to the second strip.
The second strip deals with shooting and being shot. I don't think I
need be accused of being 'programmatic' when I say that is obviously a
dramatic point in a piece that deals with armed conflict. Lennon's
voice imitates the shooting. Another Home section leads to the third
The third strip finishes up. What does Lennon need to do here? First,
to say goodbye to some of the major motives. Second, close the body
of the work down. Third, lead into his new coda, Section 4.
The goodbye function is handled with a short stretto recombining
some of the well-known voices. In particular the major seating figures
and the last appearance of "Number nine".
The close function is handled with a brief march cadence and the
spoken words: "Take this brother, may it serve you well."
The link to the new coda is dealt with by the piano, adopting a new
role, and some shooting. It's freely composed and very effective.
What I truly admire about these two minutes is that one has the
feeling here that the music has a job to do. Something like, gotta
finish up the climax, handle the shooting issues, say goodbye, close
down and pass control to the coda. In this sense, Lennon's work is
vastly more cogent than many, if not most, of the school music pieces
I've studied, probably because he brings the skills in compression and
erasure, that are so central to pop, to bear here.
So, if you want to measure Lennon up as a composer, I'm saying that
this two minutes is one of the best places to do that.
Section 3.1 [5.00-5.400] Hoses strip
The first 38 seconds are dominated by repeated notes or noise. It
opens without tonal base, using white noise. When the bass and guitar
do enter, they play only pedal notes of D major. After the close in
Section 2 on Bb, D major appears as a strong bright mediant tonic.
The one or two bits of melody that do occur early on (I've marked them
with "m" in the leftmost column below) are oblique to the pedals. It's
as if the pedal "sprays" them across the aural landscape.
5.0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
p @@Hoses@@@@@ | | | | | |
- | @@John&George@@@@@ | | | |
m | ##Crab#ooooooooo | | | |
m | | Whoa | | | | | |
p | | ##Bass###########################|
p | | |##Guitar############# | | block = block that kick
p | | | #Block | | @@@@@@@@| | w = whistle
- | | w |tid | | | | | | tid = tiddle
m | | | ch| |beet| | plung | ch = chug
m | | | | | @@Geoff@@@@@@@@@@| beet = beethoven
p | | | # S k i p # # #|# # # # | plung = plunge
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
5.04 "so the wife called"
I'm not sure how the Hoses voice was produced. It sounds like water
cannon blasting the piano at 5.05 and the "whoa" at 5.09.
The Hoses are first introduced toward the end of the preceding
stretto, which shouldn't surprise us. Lennon links the major sections
with an overlapping dub.
5.05 C: Crab piano rocket
b a c b d c# f d |g f g# f# a g a g |
a f# g# f . . a bb|b b? a a g# g f# g |
The Crab piano rocket is constructed from a step-wise pattern on a
5.07 D Pedal bass
The electric bass guitar pedal enters. The throbbing D represents the
clearest indication of tonality in the whole work. Following the Bb
stretto, this is clearly a mediant modulation. Very effective and at
the same time, standard stuff. The high pedal guitar (A) and other
parts reinforce the bright D major.
5.08 "whoa" rocket
a-----a b a g f# g g# a
5.11 A Pedal unison guitar
The high pitched "tiddle" is the Beethoven figure,
sped up by about four octaves.
5.13 (F-F#) Pedal crowd noises
"Block that kick"
D Guitar chug on D5 chord.
5.15 -- "Skip"
The sound of a record skipping or in a loop. Not easy
to hear this sound.
5.21 C: Beethoven figure
5.23 -- "Geoff"
5.27 F#? "hold that line"
5.34 C: Plunge
Bass and guitar clearly outline D major.
5.21 D Pedal bass left
G? "hold that line"
5.38 pedals stop
The drop-off close at the end of this strip is magic. Here's a look at
some of the fine detail that I've been ignoring:
5.33 (G?) "Drop that kick" -- finishs
5.34 (D) Bass guitar -- throughout
(B)C Plunge -- throughout
(A-E) Metallic pluck
bb: Clarinet doodle
Listen in particular to the way the electronic interference bulge
from the Geoff voice combines with the brass plunge to create a
5.35 (D) Electronic interference
(C) Brass (from Plunge)
5.38 (E) Honk
At 5.40 the strip is over.
In the next article I look at the Shooting Strip.
Filling me up with your rules...
I have employed a number of conventions in these articles.
You will need to use a fixed size font to read these posts sensibly.
In the first column I indicate the time, in minutes and seconds, as it
occurs on CD. I'm not always exact to the second when referring to the
time in the main text. This is not physics.
1.50 (A) This is something that happened at 1 minute 50 seconds
In the second column of titles I use "D" to indicate dubs (e.g. D1)
and "L" to indicate loops.
In the second column of examples I indicate the notes, chords or key
of a section, using the following conventions:
(A) the note A. (ABC) implies the notes A, B and C.
a the chord a minor
A the chord A major
a: the key a minor
A: the key A major
[A] square brackets enclose almost inaudible sounds
The third column may have quoted text, which is preceded by the
initials of the speaker, if known. JL, GH, YO and GM are obvious.
AT: is Alistair Taylor. The text is highly conjectural in places.
In melodic examples, "'" and "_" are used to indicate non-intuitive
jumps. "a' b" indicates the "a" is above the following "b". "b_ a"
indicates that "b" is below the following "a".
Copyright (c) Ian Hammond 1999. All rights reserved.
IAN HAMMOND'S BEATHOVEN: PAGE 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, - Back To Revolution Number 9