All I've Got to Do
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1962
Chords/Tabs: All I've Got to Do
Notes on "All I've Got To Do" (AIGTD)
KEY E Major
FORM Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse/Outro
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- This song retains a strongly exotic flavor from the combination of several
factors: the pentatonic mode of the melody, the Major/minor byplay of the
harmony, and the belly-dancer-like syncopation of the rhythm.
- We have yet another example here where the bridge is repeated but
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- There is no small amount of ambiguity as to whether the song is in E
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."
- 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 albiet surprising surrogate
IV-like antecedent to the c# chord which leads off the verse.
- 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.
- The vocal counterpoint of the verse starts off as plain parallel thirds,
but then changes over to trademark-Beatles parallel 4ths by virtue of Paul
briefly holding over one note (marked `*` 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
- 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.
- 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.
- This verse is an asymmetrical eleven measures long. Its first phrase is
a standard 4-measures but is followed by two more phrases of uneven length;
first the two-measure title phrase, and then an unusual 5-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:
|c# |- |E |- |
E: vi I
|c# |- |f# | |
|a |E |- |
- 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.
- 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
4-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# |- |
|A |E c# |A |E B |
IV I vi VI I V
- 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.
- In context of the rest of their original songs recorded to this point in
the humming and early fade of this section are both novel and unprecedented
little experiments, particularly significant for the continued creative
trend which they pressage.
A FINAL THOUGHT
- 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.
Alan (email@example.com *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)
"You can be replaced, you know, chicky baby." 100191#36
Copyright (c) 1991 by Alan W. Pollack
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