Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1968
Chords/Tabs: Her Majesty
Notes on "Her Majesty" (HM)
KEY D Major
FORM Intro -> Verse (abrupt ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- Just when you think the last recorded Beatles album is over, just
as you're letting out a deep sigh in reaction to
"The End," you're
startled by one crashing D Major chord that's followed by this
irreverent little fragment of a ditty. Its ending is as abrupt
as its start is sudden. Before you've quite had a chance to react
to it, it's already altogether come and gone.
- By this point, the Beatles had pulled this kind of stunt just enough
times for you to recognize it with an indulgent smile, but not too many
times that you'd be annoyed that it's getting old. In contrast
to "The End,"
HM it provides sufficient comic relief to those for whom
the previous track is too sombre or stuffy, without ruining or even
diluting that same track's lush sentiment for those who like it just the
way it is.
- Lewisohn's characterization of Paul arriving early at the studio on
July 2, 1969 to quickly get this song down on tape before the others
arrived implies that the song was hot off the composer's pen that
very morning. However, an outtake of HM from the 1/24/69 Get Back
sessions at Apple shows the song was already quite worked out well
in advance. This outtake runs for over 2 minutes and consists essentially
of five repeats of the single verse we find on _Abbey Road_; there is no
alternate bridge section, nor even extra lyrics for a second verse,
aside from some scat singing in places. What sounds like George and
Ringo attempt half-heartedly to vamp along, but even at this early date,
Paul clearly performs here what we are familiar with as the finished
- In terms of style, HM sounds like a strange cross between
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
and the "Goodbye" song Paul wrote for Mary Hopkin.
Melody and Harmony
- The tune covers the range of about an octave, which is unusually large
considering its pattering, non arch-like character.
- The chord set is dominated by the standard I, ii, IV, V, but is also
spiced up by a couple secondary dominants and a diminished 7th chord.
- It doesn't get any simpler than this on a Beatles recording: just
acoustic guitar and single track lead vocal. No hand claps,
no foot taps, not even a ticking metronome.
- Thud; this is what otherwise would have been the final chord of
"Mean Mr. Mustard."
It's in D Major but sounds ever so slightly
out of tune with respect to what follows.
- The verse is an unusual eighteen measure long, featuring a 16 measure
four-square quatrain, followed by a 2-measure petit reprise of the
last phrase. The quatrain itself parses out into an AA'BA'' pattern:
bassline D C# |B A |E
|D |- |E9 A |D |
D: I V-of-V V I
|D |- |E9 |A |
I V-of-V V
|b |- |D7 |G |
vi V-of-IV IV
|E# |D B |e A13 |D B |
#ii4/2 dim. I V-of-ii ii V I V-of-ii
|e A13 |D cut off after 2nd beat
ii V I
- The first two measures of the first two phrases provide a good example
of what I've labelled elsewhere as an "harmonic envelope." The D chord
is really sustained over both measures with a walking bassline moving
beneath it. You do (should) not need to parse every half measure as
a different "chord."
- The first phrase has a closed harmonic shape; the second phrase is
open to V. The third phrase opens on vi and closes on IV; a fine
example of harmonic "misadventure" even in a tiny song like this.
And the final phrase is convergent on the home key.
- The harmonic rhythm is kept flexible throughout. No rigid pattern
is followed but the pace at which the chords change is noticeably
picked up for the final phrase.
- The prominence of F# in the tune makes a couple of the E chords into
E9's and A chords into A13's.
- The diminished chord that starts the fourth phrase is the very same
one we saw last time in TE. The fact that it shares the note D with
the I chord that follows it might lead you to think it's rooted on D,
but the chromatic voice leading forces you to root it on E#:
B -> A
G# -> A
E# -> F#
D -> D
- The master recording ends with an A natural on the second beat of
the final measure. What should be the last 2 beats of that measure
filled with a D Major chord are clearly missing. This is an effective
demonstration of how well conditioned we all are to wanting the V chord
implied by the final A natural to resolve to I, and how equally
disappointed we feel when it doesn't happen.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- This pass of our studying the songs of the Beatles is concluded.
- The next order of business is to upgrade the "original 28" notes to
the template and level of detail adopted for the remainder of the series.
There's also a long list of corrections and additions I need to make to
many of the other notes; the one on
"Drive My Car," in particular, begs
for me to recant.
|| We shall return to you, songs of the Beatles, ||
|| and you shall return to us. ||
"Say, he's reading the 'Queen.' That's an 'in' joke, you
--- 36 years ago
Copyright (c) 2000 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and
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intact and in place.
Ook op Abbey Road:
(c) 2021 Serge Girard