Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1967
Chords/Tabs: Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Notes on "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" (BFTBOMK)
KEY e minor (by way of d and c minor)
METER 4/4 (1st bridge in 3/4)
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge ->
Verse -> Bridge (w/complete ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- "Mr. Kite..." has a visual vividness uncommon for the likes of words
and music, what with its circus poster lyrics, the harmonium that sounds
like a calliope, and the bustle of those electronic tape loops.
- The musical materials are unusual but are also frugally deployed to the
extent that all the sections are built upon the same ~14-measure long
chord progression. I think this is motivated, if for no other reason,
by the principle that if you're going to go crazy in one department
(in this case, the electronic noise overdubs), than you've got to
keep the musical backbone clear and firm in other departments.
Melody and Harmony
- You might say that different parts of this song are respectively in
the keys of d, c, and e minor, but I think it's a cop out to describe
the song as simply spanning three different keys and leave it like that.
- The notion of a single home key is *the* central doctrine of tonal music
theory. And, to the extent that you're challenged, in a case like this,
to contemplate the manner in which your mind perceives one of the keys
as "home" and the others as being away from it is part of the game.
Furthermore, to the extent that goal-orientedness is an equally central
doctrine of tonal chord or key progressions, you'll tend to award the
strongest home-steading claim to the key in which you arrive at the end;
not the in the middle or at the beginning.
- All this is to say that I believe the home key of this song is e minor,
and that the opening in d, and the starting of the verses in c is a clever
ruse perpetrated intentionally to throw you off balance. It's sort of
the harmonic equivalent of one of those multi-planed Escher engravings
where your sense of the direction pointed to by gravity's rainbow depends
on where on the page you focus your gaze.
- This explanation may sound far fetched, but you know we've often seen
examples in this series of songs which begin with chords that are out
in left field with respect to the ultimate home key; look at
just to pick two Lennon songs off the top of the head. At
any rate, the idea of starting within a key (not just a single chord) that
is remote from the ultimate home key is a logical extension of the same
- The electronic effects on this track are no less effective for the
relatively primitive way in which they were developed by 90's standards.
I leave it to others to describe the underlying details.
- Compositionally, the important thing to grasp about these effects is
how, for the most part, they are superimposed in the manner of a collage
on top of (as opposed to integrated with or inlaid within) an otherwise
relatively traditional piece of music.
- The tendency to modulate is in evidence right from the start
with this three-measure intro in which the music first converges
toward d minor only to pivot straight away from it to c:
|Bb |A |d G |
d: VI V i
c: ii V
- The verse is an unusual fourteen measures long and consists of
alternating phrases of 4 and 3 measures each (AA'BB'), the asymmetry
lending a subtle limping effect:
|c G Aug. |Bb d |G |G Aug. |
c: i V#5 vi-of-ii ii V #5
|c G Aug. |Bb d |A |
c: i V#5 vi-of-ii ii
d:vi i V
|d |g A |d |g A |
d: i iv V i iv V
|d |g A |d G |
c: ii V
d: i iv V i
- Harmonically, the section opens in c minor, but most of its time is
spent in the key of d! Even the first phrase, which overall consists
of a traditional move from i to V, manages to anticipate the move to
d with the way it moves to that chord by way of the G augmented and
relatively remote Bb chords.
- The two instrumental interludes of the song provide the formal
contrast you'd expect from a bridge, though in this song, these
interludes surprisingly turn out to be built on the same musical
plan as the verses!
- It's cleverly disguised by the lack of vocals and the distraction of
the overdubbed sound effects; the first one, all the more so because
of its presentation in a ternary meter (hint, 3/4 == good ol' Henry
dancing the waltz). But do check it out carefully -
- the chords are
identical, only transposed up a step.
- Keep in mind that the verse had started out in c and quickly modulated
up to d. Therefore, the instrumental sections, by virtue of starting
in d wind up quickly modulating up to e. Without some intervention,
this kind of thing could go on indefinitely, which is why you have
the sudden call to attention at the end of the first interlude which
both terminates the waltz beat and abruptly modulates you back to c.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- The song has no outro, per se; instead, the second instrumental
interlude (now back in the 4/4 meter) is allowed to simply end the
- The final chord is sustained for a full two measures, during which the
overdubbed noises seem to integrate with the underlying music for just
this final instant. It's as if sound boils over and evapoprates before
"Do you realize we are on the air, live, in front of an audience, in
forty-five minutes and you're one short." 021096#112
Copyright (c) 1996 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
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Ook op Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
Ook op Anthology 2:
(c) 2021 Serge Girard