Alan Aldrigde, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr en George Harrison Alan Aldrigde, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (c) Alan Aldrigde, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics

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Do You Want to Know a Secret

Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year :

Chords/Tabs: Do You Want to Know a Secret

Notes on "Do You Want To Know A Secret" (DYWTKAS)

KEY E Major


FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout)


Style and Form

- The intro is slow, the verse long, and the bridge short. The form is compact and the overall duration of the song brief, as well; a likely consequence of the large amount of repetitious rhetoric built into the verse section.

- No exaggeration, the lyrics here may nose out even "Love Me Do" for skimpiness, though the use of different material in both the intro and the bridge makes up some of the deficit.

- The song fairly overflows with a number of leitmotifs all built out of chromatic scale fragements of 3 or 4 notes; the rising lead guitar riff at the end of the intro, a descending portion of the verse melody (on the "woah" that precedes the word "closer"), and in the recurrent little descending chord stream that appears in the second half of almost all the odd-numbered measures of the verse.


- The song is quite securely in E Major in spite of a firm modulation to the axis of A Major/f# minor during the break. Allusions to the parallel minor key of e in both intro and verse provide a touch of pathos as well as harmonic variety.

- The single most unusual chord in the song is the "flat II", found here in both the intro and the verse; we've seen this one before in "Things We Said Today" and "You're Going To Lose That Girl."


- The song leaves a lasting impresion of having been enwrapped in a haze of gentle reverberation even though it was not literally nor entirely recorded that way.

- George gets the first of his few chances to take the lead vocal in a Lennon- McCartney tune. The composers themselves show up vocally in the form of an old-fashioned "doo-wop"-like backing starting in the second verse.

- Like the piano in-lays of "Misery", the overdubbed tapping of drum sticks in the bridge is a musically small touch which is historically notable because of the trend in recording/arranging practice it signals.



- The intro is not merely "adagio", but entirely "ad libitum"; my delineation below of where the 4/4 measure boundaries are is purely a guess:
  	|e		|a	e	|G		|F	B	|

        e: i		 iv	i	 III		flat II V

- The shift from e minor to E Major which occurs between intro and first verse is exceedingly smooth because of the "parallel" relationship between the two keys, but if you recall the first time you ever heard this song, it still has the power to surprise.

- Though emotionally and compositionally simplistic on one level, that minor- to-Major transition still effectively conveys the angst-cum-epiphanistic- joy "we" all go through in the unique moment of timidly expressing a burgeoning fondness.


- This verse has an unusual length of 14 measures and is designed as a couplet of two uneven phrases which share a common beginning:
  	"Listen ..."
  	 ------------- 2 x -------------
  	|E	 g#  g  |f#	B7	|E	 g#  g  |f#	F	|
        E: I	         ii	V	 I		 ii     flat II

  	"Closer ..."
  	 ----------------- 2 x -----------------
  	|E	g#   g      |f#		B7	|A		|B	   |
  	 I		     ii		V	 IV		 V

  	|c#		|f#	B	|

  	 vi		 ii	V

- The first phrase is six measures and would seem to run harmonically in circles if it were not for its surprise ending in which we find yet another application of the chromatic chord stream cliche. Note how the F chord is unusually placed on top of the note C in the bass; as though Paul were uncomfortable with a certain awkwardness about the chord progression and trying to paper it over a bit.

- The second phrase is eight measures and though it too starts off running in the same tight circle, its harmonic rhythm broadens out into a deceptive cadence on vi before cycling back again to V.

- The melody of this verse is just as repetitious as the chord changes, and the falsetto flip in the last measure finally and satisfyingly opens up the previously constricted pitch range.

- The chord stream of g# minor -> g minor -> f# is more coloristic than "functional"; the ear comprehends the structural harmonic progression as though from E in the first measure to f# in the second. The *other* chord stream in measure 6 - 7 is actually more structurally significant than the previous one in that one hears the F Major chord as a surrogate Dominant with respect to the E (I) chord which opens the second phrase. Note how the melodic use of C natural at this juncture creates an allusion to the minor mode of e.

- The rhythm is in a shuffling beat throughout until the final four measures where it's suddenly interrupted by syncopation (m. 11 - 12), which then moderates to a pulsating bass drum beat before settling back to the shuffle.

- George's pronunciation of the word "ear" (especially in the first and third verses) offers us what 'Simon Marshal' would someday describe as "the old adenoidal glottal stop for our benefit".


- This is one of the shortest bridges we've ever seen; only six measures long, and built, just like the verse, out of two phrases unequal in length yet sharing the same opening content:
  	 ------------- 2 x -------------

  	|A	f#	|c#	b	|f#		|B		|

       f#: III	i	 v	iv	 i
       E : IV       		       E:ii		 V

- The harmonic transition into this section from the V chord on B which ends the previous verse is somewhat abrupt though by no means rude; the pivot for the modulation is not obvious to the ear, but at least it *is* a common chord to both keys involved.

- The pivot back to the home key is much smoother. It's a rather superb example of just how so-called pivot modulations work for those who have trouble grasping the concept: note how when the f# chord is followed by the B Major one, the ear retroactively reinterprets it as the ii chord of the original home key of E.

- In the arrangment, the do-dahs are given a break in deference to George's solo vocal. And Paul, having played up to this point a nicely elaborate bassline, gets a little carried away in this section and winds up making a mistake on the first c# chord, by playing a B natural which clashes with the chord above it.


- The deceptive cadence near the end of the verse is leveraged and recycled for the inevitable three-repeat coda.

- The song fades very rapidly and a surviving outtake reveals that the studio performance of the official version actually ended, barely a few seconds after our fade, with a complete ending on an added-sixth chord.

- That added sixth so nicely summarizes the song that it's especially unfortunate they chose to mask it out. Looking back over the full length of the piece, one notes how much the sonority of the added-sixth resonates within it; e.g., the repeated appoggiatura of C#->B on the words "listen" and "secret" in the verse, and the large number of deceptive cadences in which you so strongly anticipate the next chord to be E, yet it turns out to be (surprise!) c# instead. To the extent that this added-sixth has the incidental sound of the I (E) and vi (c#) superimposed upon each other, it makes for an effective harmonic double-entendre.

- BTW, Paul makes yet another mistake in the bassline of this section, analogous to the one in the bridge.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS - The aesthetic of sentimental shy puppy love and gauzy soft focus is not one to which the Boys were often drawn over the long run; Sweet and Cuddly Moptops notwithstanding, it didn't suit them as a group. Even here, they manage to rescue this one from drowning in its own cliches only by means of an abundance of interesting details and a modicum of sincerity.

- Ironically, it's the more subtle aesthetic of repetition here, which you would be tempted to denegrate offhand as a matter of lazy craft, which provides one of the major sources of emotional realism and "sincerity" to the song. I'd bet, for example, that anyone out there who relates to the pre-confessional anxiety of the intro will also vouch for the corresponding post-declaration euphoria in which all they wanted, even needed, to do was repeat the same words of love like a mantra, endlessly without stopping.

Regards, Alan ( *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)

"I don't really know, but it sounded distinguished like, didn't it ?" 081991#32

Copyright (c) 1991 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.

Ook op Please Please Me:

ChordsNotes On
I Saw Her Standing There I Saw Her Standing There
Misery Misery
Chains Chains
Anna (Go to Him) Anna (Go to Him)
Boys Boys
Ask Me Why Ask Me Why
Please Please Me Please Please Me
Love Me Do Love Me Do
P.S. I Love You P.S. I Love You
Baby It's You Baby It's You
Do You Want to Know a Secret Do You Want to Know a Secret
A Taste of Honey A Taste of Honey
There's a Place There's a Place
Twist and Shout Twist and Shout

Ook op On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2:

ChordsNotes On
And Here We Are Again (speech) 
Words of Love Words of Love
How About It, Gorgeus? (speech) 
Do You Want to Know a Secret Do You Want to Know a Secret
Hey, Paul... (speech) 
Anna (Go to Him) Anna (Go to Him)
Hello! (speech) 
Please Please Me Please Please Me
Misery Misery
I'm Talking About You 
A Real Treat (speech) 
Boys Boys
Absolutely Fab (speech) 
Chains Chains
Ask Me Why Ask Me Why
Till There Was You Till There Was You
Lend Me Your Comb 
Lower 5e (speech) 
The Hippy Hippy Shake 
Roll over Beethoven Roll over Beethoven
There's a Place There's a Place
Bumper Bundle (speech) 
P.S. I Love You P.S. I Love You
Please Mr. Postman Please Mr. Postman
Beautiful Dreamer 
Devil in Her Heart Devil in Her Heart
The 49 Weeks (speech) 
Sure To Fall 
Never Mind, Eh? (speech) 
Twist and Shout Twist and Shout
Bye, Bye (speech) 
John - Pop Profile (speech) 
George - Pop Profile (speech) 
I Saw Her Standing There I Saw Her Standing There
Glad All Over 
Lift Lid Again (speech) 
I'll Get You I'll Get You
She Loves You She Loves You
Memphis, Tennessee 
Happy Birthday, Dear Saturday Club 
Now Hush, Hush (speech) 
From Me to You From Me to You
Money (That's What I Want) Money (That's What I Want)
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
Brian Bathtubes 
This Boy This Boy
If I Wasn't In America 
I Got A Woman 
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
If I Fell If I Fell
A Hard Job Writing Them (speech) 
And I Love Her And I Love Her
Oh, Can't We? Yes We Can (speech) 
You Can't Do That You Can't Do That
Honey Don't Honey Don't
I'll Follow the Sun I'll Follow the Sun
Green With Black Shutters (speech) 
Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley] Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley]
That's What We're Here For (speech) 
I Feel Fine (Studio Outtake)
Paul - Pop Profile (speech) 
Ringo - Pop Profile (speech) 

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