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Eight Days a Week

Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1964

Chords/Tabs: Eight Days a Week

Notes On "Eight Days a Week" (EDAW)

Copyright 1989 Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved

The harmony of "Eight Days A Week" is built out of a wonderfully teasing exploitation of the special effect called a "false (or "cross") relation". This harmonic idiom is used quite a bit throughout the Beatles' output and I think that EDAW is an object lesson worth exploring.

("Hey, I thought he'd talk about those infamous parallel fifths, but this false relations stuff sounds *really* kinky!")

False Relations, Defined

A false relation is nothing more than a chromatic contradiction between two notes in a single chord or in different parts of adjacent chords. Within the confines of academic tonal theory this is considered a "syntax error" but it has been used throughout the ages by composers for expressive effect; a sort of a musical poetic license.

As my one sentence definition above implies, false relations come in two flavors; both are well loved by the Beatles and I'll cite examples of each though only the second flavor is of concern in EDAW:

1. contradiction between two notes in one chord -- the manifestation of this seen most frequently is the simultaneous use of the major and minor 3rd in a chord; this is one of the factors which makes the blues sound, well, bluesy. A Beatle example off the top of the head is "Night Before"; the accompaniment is clearly in D major (which uses F#) while the melody repeatedly incorporates the F-natural of the minor mode.

2. contradiction between adjacent chords -- this is the more subtle of the two flavors because the ear picks it up only by following the succession of two chords over time, whereas the flavor #1 above involves an outright, instantaneous clash. As we'll see, the pervasive application of this effect provides a unifying influence on EDAW.

False Relations Located in EDAW

False relations appear in both the verse and refrain of EDAW. The song is in D-major and the false relation in each case involves G-natural and G#; note that The G-natural has a melodic tendency to fall to F# and the G# has the tendency toward A-natural.

- the verse -- each phrase of the verse has its own false relation. Here's phrase 1 ("Love you every day, girl ..."):

	D-Maj		->E-Maj		->G-Maj		->D-Maj
			(uses G#)	(uses G-natural)

	I		V of V		  IV		I

The effect is particularly subtle because the G# in second chord appears in a middle voice while the G-natural in the following chord is in the outer voices.

In phrase 2 ("Hold me...") the false relation does not happen between immediately adjacent chords but the alternating appearance of G#/G-natural is definitely heard:

	B-min		->E-min		->B-min		->E-Major
			(uses G-natural)		(uses G-major)

	VI		II6		VI		V of V

I would argue that the false relation is accentuated in the above phrase by the fact that the E-minor chord appears in its first inversion with the G-natural in the bass line!

- the refrain -- ("Eight Days A Week ...") - the progression is as follows with the false relation hopefully clearly spelled out:

	A-Maj		->B-min		->E-Maj		->G-Maj		->A7
					(G#)		(G-natural)

	V		VI		V of V		IV		V

Other Harmonic Teases

EDAW makes very spare use of the dominant chord ("V"), and even when it does appear it doesn't always behave as we might expect. A couple of details (referring the chord progressions outlined above):

- the V chord's first appearance is delayed all the way until the refrain; it doesn't make any appearance in the verse which is a particular tease in that the E-Major chord ("V of V") would seem to prompt for it.

- the first appearance of the V chord at the beginning of the refrain resolves "deceptively" to the VI chord instead of the tonic (I). The V of V in the second part of the refrain finally moves to the V itself but *by way* of the false-relation-inducing IV chord.

- the return of the verse following the refrain, then, is the only place in the song that we have a garden variety V-I cadence. In other words, the verses by themselves rely on the IV-I (so-called Plagal cadence) to establish the key.

- Anybody out there notice that the unique triplet-rhythm phrase which is used both in the (fade-in!!) intro and coda happens to use the same chord progression as the beginning of the verse but over a D pedal tone ? (It's kind of like a Bach Prelude.)

... and one last thing

Lest any of you think I'm some dessicated pedant who derives no joy from the music let me share with you: I was in 11th grade when this song first came out. I was a regular Schroder-from-the-Peanuts-cartoon who was into classical music and eschewed virtually all popular music. To make a long story short, I can still remember (and experience) the hair on the back of my neck standing up when I hear(d) those parallel 5ths/4ths in the break. So there :-).

BTW, I assume a certain basic knowledge of musical notation and theory in these articles. Please don't hesitate to send e-mail if you have any questions or suggestions on how to make them more intelligible.

Alan (

"They tried to fob you off on this musical charlatan,
 but *I* gave him the test."

Ook op Beatles for Sale:

ChordsNotes On
No Reply No Reply
I'm a Loser I'm a Loser
Baby's in Black Baby's in Black
Rock & Roll Music Rock & Roll Music
I'll Follow the Sun I'll Follow the Sun
Mr. Moonlight Mr. Moonlight
Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley] Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley]
Eight Days a Week Eight Days a Week
Words of Love Words of Love
Honey Don't Honey Don't
Every Little Thing Every Little Thing
I Don't Want to Spoil the Party I Don't Want to Spoil the Party
What You're Doing What You're Doing
Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby

Ook op 1962-1966:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
Please Please Me Please Please Me
From Me to You From Me to You
She Loves You She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
All My Loving All My Loving
Can't Buy Me Love Can't Buy Me Love
A Hard Day's Night A Hard Day's Night
And I Love Her And I Love Her
Eight Days a Week Eight Days a Week
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
Ticket to Ride Ticket to Ride
Yesterday Yesterday
Help! Help!
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
We Can Work It Out We Can Work It Out
Day Tripper Day Tripper
Drive My Car Drive My Car
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
Nowhere Man Nowhere Man
Michelle Michelle
In My Life In My Life
Girl Girl
Paperback Writer Paperback Writer
Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby
Yellow Submarine Yellow Submarine

Ook op 1:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
From Me to You From Me to You
She Loves You She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
Can't Buy Me Love Can't Buy Me Love
A Hard Day's Night A Hard Day's Night
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
Eight Days a Week Eight Days a Week
Ticket to Ride Ticket to Ride
Help! Help!
Yesterday Yesterday
Day Tripper Day Tripper
We Can Work It Out We Can Work It Out
Paperback Writer Paperback Writer
Yellow Submarine Yellow Submarine
Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby
Penny Lane Penny Lane
All You Need Is Love All You Need Is Love
Hello Goodbye Hello Goodbye
Lady Madonna Lady Madonna
Hey Jude Hey Jude
Get Back Get Back
The Ballad of John and Yoko The Ballad of John and Yoko
Something Something
Come Together Come Together
Let It Be Let It Be
The Long and Winding Road The Long and Winding Road

(c) 2023 Serge Girard