Behind the stage (score)
Dear PG Composers, my name is Jorge Pallares Catalan and I am student of PHD Creative Music Practice. After talking with Dr Edwards , I am going to attach a pop song and its score to analyze it and then discuss it next Wednesday. Best, Jorge
About Jorge Pallares catalan
Jorge Pallares Catalan was born on April the 23rd in 1981, inside a family of professional and semi-professional musicians. He grew up in Onda (Castellon, Spain), where at the age of 6 years old he started playing his first chords. When he was 8 years old, his parents Pedro and Regina realized that he was quick learner and decided to buy a Spanish “Alhambra” guitar.
It was in a religious celebration when he played, at the age of 8, his first concert with a folkloric orchestra of classical guitars, lutes and mandolins called “La Rondalla de Onda”. From that moment onwards, he always combined his studies in technology with musical studies at the conservatory taught by professional teachers like Jose Ramon Chorva or Fabian Barraza among others.
At the age of 24, he had to decide whether he would carry on with his studies in Mechanical Engineering or whether he would play in the professional big band “Centauro La Grupestra” and focus completely in his music studies. Finally, he played for a year in this big band followed by another year as a member of the professional big band “La Pirata” while finishing the intermediate level at “440 Conservatory”.
The following year, he opted to travel to Barcelona in order to continue with his musical studies at “L’aula” (Berklee) where he learnt the Berklee particular music method.
At the moment, Jorge has already played in some professional orchestras and big bands like, Al Tanto, Valkyria, Betamax, Centauro La Grupestra, Radio Pachuco, Jamaica Show and Pirata whilst teaching music at conservatories, schools and privately since 2002.
Jorge is student of PHD Music Creative Practice at the University of Edinburgh and previously he studied a Postgraduate in Music Education and a Degree in Contemporary Music Performance. During these academic years he has written some dissertations, of which the most distinguished are “Song-writing secrets to win a Grammy” where he analysis the most noted songs according to the 2011 Grammys awards and from the composition point of view. He also wrote a lengthy dissertation on guitar teaching, where he created 4 years of lessons for beginner and intermediate level.
Currently Jorge works as a school music teacher and private music tutor and is member of two musical projects. The first one is a jazz band and the other is his own work where he writes music, lyrics, plays guitar, sings lead and backing vocals.
View all posts by Jorge Pallares catalan
3 thoughts on “Behind the stage (pop-rock song)”
Unfortunately, I am not able to attend the seminar this coming wednesday, but I have prepared an analysis of Behind the Stage. See below.
Analysis Notes for Composers Seminar
Behind the Stage is a song in verse chorus form, in A major with no deviation.
The song has a general harmonic rhythm of two bars, with some added harmonic motion in the riff. The lyrics are about being a musician and the emotions associated with performing.
A Intro – Centered Around A Major
Divided into 2 sections of 8 bars, each section consists of four 2 bar phrases.
This section introduces a falling ‘sol,fa,mi’ motif in the first 8 and a ‘do,ti,sol’ in the 2nd 8.
Perhaps more interesting is the rhythm, which sets up quavers in (3+3+2) against the drums (2+2+2+2). Although this specific rhythm of 332 is not found elsewhere in the song, it sets up the background rhythm of the riff, which is (3+3+3+3+2+2) – an expanded version of this introductory material.
Also, the intro sets up the 2 bar harmonic rhythm of the verses.
B Riff – The bass and rhythm guitar enter.
The riff is a 4 bar cell that functions as a transition between sections and is repeated a variety of times throughout the song. It comes before each verse, before the chorus, and before the guitar solo. The only time a transition occurs without the riff is when going to the coda for the last chorus.
—> The riff is 4 bars long, and is basically the first two bars repeated twice. The lead guitar has some variation in the 2nd two bars, and continues the variation in future iterations of the riff.
There is first a tonic A9, then G major, which functions as a dominant. The final chord in the 2nd bar (and 4th bar) is a subdominant D, but this is heard more as a passing harmony, rather than a destination. The lead plays a passage in A major throughout.
This section has the fastest harmonic rhythm of the piece, changing chords each bar or faster.
C Verse 1 – voice enters
The harmonic rhythm is slowed coming off the riff – The verse returns to the same harmonic rhythm as the intro, with different harmonies this time
It is, again, divided into 2 sections of 8 bars, each consisting of four 2 bar phrases
The chord progression at its heart a I V VI IV progression. The chords here (and for the rest of the song) is A add9, E(7,add9,11) F#7 add11, and D add9— The third chord here is the most interesting – in a modal setting, the VI chord would be minor, however here it is a dominant chord with an with an added 11
The A9,E7, and F#11 have a pedal B, which is only broken with the D9 – this is good harmonic motion, and makes the plagal motion in bar 28/29 stand out. Also of note is the other pedal ‘E’, which appears in all 4 chords, jumping octaves in the last two.
C Verse 2
Starts with the riff and moves to a repeat of verse 1 with different lyrics.
D Riff – Acts as a bridge between Verse 2 and Chorus 1. Guitar starts to improvise on the riff.
E Chorus 1- The falling melody of the introduction is recalled here – but as mi,re,do instead of sol,fa,mi.
The chorus has the same structure and chords as the verse.
One major difference is the addition of a ride cymbal in the drums. This helps to differentiate the two sections and make it a bit more upbeat.
Melodically, the lead vocal line makes good use of the major VI chord – in bar 45 the voice moves to the A# – which then resolves nicely down to the tonic A.
Notationally in bar 51-52 Lead – Accidentals carry through the bar – and the Ab should be respelled a G#.
Bar 53-54 – the Bb should be A# and C# does not need an accidental, as it is already in the key signature.
The baseline at the end of this section fits really nicely, and is a good segue into the riff
F Riff – Same as before – bridge between Chorus 1 and guitar solo this time.
The guitar, again, is improvising in this section.
G Guitar Solo – The guitar switches timbre a bit, which helps to differentiate it from the guitar lick in the riff.
The guitar solo has the same chords and structure as the verse.
The melody starts in A major and then utilizes the same A# to A movement as the chorus.
During the first 8 bars, the guitar stays below A5, mostly in an up and down motion, using the jump of a 6th to add color.
The 2nd 8 bars start ascending, moving to C#6 – the melody stays around there and shoots up to a climactic high F# before moving down, concluding the first half of the solo section
There are scoops, some bending, and vibrato which add a lot of character – and while it may be possible to notate all of this, it seems that the composer knew the guitarist he would be working with – leaving those decisions to the performer.
H Guitar Solo (continued)
The second part of the guitar solo has the same chords and structure as the verse.
This section is based more on rhythm and harmony, using the rhythm of the lead in 77-78 as the rhythmic motif.
H seems to be a continuation of the climax, using raw energy rather than melody.
Bar 89 (as all of the others) should be an F# chord, rather than Gb.
H 2- Bar 93 – I would argue this is actually a Riff in disguise – as the guitar doesn’t change timbre and continues in a free soloistic idea, it would appear that this is just guitar solo.
The chords, however, tell a different story, and the harmonic rhythm is increased.
Segno – Verse 3
I understand why the song has a segno, however, this is a really confusing method notationally. A conductor would have to turn back 8 pages, just to turn forward 8 for the coda. It would be easier to just copy and paste the verse where bar 97 is. In addition, having a repeat sign just after the coda mark is confusing. Without listening to the song, I would not know if I should repeat there or not.
Coda – Chorus 2
The chorus is played twice. The 2nd time, a bit more energy, and the singer hits a few more higher notes, and ends on a long high notes.
Outro – Riff – This is the same chords as the riff, the guitar taking liberties again.
The song slows in the penultimate bar, and ends on the tonic chord with a hammer on trill in the last bar.
1. First page – There should be a list of all of the instruments, or they should appear on the first stanza – only at bar 21 do you see all of the instruments, but it is not clear if there are any more that come later.
2. Yes, tempo does ‘= bpm’, however a number must be included here. Better yet, a style “allegro con brio, for example” might help the performers.
3. Need dynamics and articulations – Even if this is a song you play with friends, it will save rehearsal time if this is already on the page.
4. When doing repeats with different words, it’s important to have those words under the first set of lyrics – without a recording, there would be no way of knowing what they are. This applies to the 2nd and 3rd verses.
5. Bar 18 and 20 (and every subsequent occurrence) are incorrectly labeled – Beat 3 is still a G chord, while beat 4 moves to a D/F# adding to the harmony currently written. Also, in the riff, is this an add9? It is barely audible in the recording, and is not notated in the chord itself… In the verse, however, the add9 works very nicely and is voiced well.
6. At C, there are background vocals in the audio file – are these meant to be notated?
7. Bar 23 – the lead has a B minor chord, over the rhythm guitar which plays an E chord. I think I can hear this in the recording, but it is low in the mix, and has some distortion. If this chord is correct, it should be labeled E7 +9+11.
8. Bar 25 and every subsequent occurrence – the F7 should be F#7+11
9. Typo bar 48,49 – 104,105 “strength” and “every” – also it is not clear what the singer should be singing per syllable – but after hearing the song it makes sense.
10. This last comment is a tricky one, and hopefully will provoke some discussion about ‘how much to notate for improvised parts’ — The drum part is quite specific on the page, however the drummer is playing things different than what’s on the page. This is a case where a drummer has to have a good feel, rather than play the specific part. If you are working with a drummer, than you can explain how it all works – however if you gave this song to a group of musicians, it might be rather difficult to decipher. Rather than a specific drum part – perhaps adding descriptions, such as ‘hard backbeat with quaver high hat’ or ‘jazzy and free’, could help the performers understand the song more quickly. Also, from a notational standpoint, B is quite difficult to read.
Apologies if there are any formatting problems – I copied it from a previously written text file.
thanks for your comments Matt.
I will answer to all of this tomorrow at the seminar.
If you are not there tomorrow, I will give you my answers to your opinions another day in person (which I have already written).
Yes! I am very curious – if you want to sent them to my email, it’s email@example.com – In particular, I’m curious what you had in mind for the E chord in bar 23. It’s a nice harmony.