Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - "Something" Deconstructed

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Something" Deconstructed

I get asked "what style of music do you listen to?" a lot.

I don't have an answer for that question, because I don't listen to just one genre.

I have favorite music.

Having said that, there are songs/pieces of music that I think are fairly transcendent and/or worthy of being given the moniker "Close to Perfect".

Of which "Something" by the Beatles/George Harrison comes to mind at the moment.

As I think of it:

The theme melody is brilliant in it's simplicity; but also because it's a chromatic theme.  Unlike such things usually are, it doesn't sound clownish or self-important.  It's immediately recognizable as a lone melody (the height of accomplishment as a musician IMO) and even better it starts the song.

The intro drum roll is perfect as well IMO.  As is the production; the dry, not to dead not too ringy tom sound.  Not too hurried, not sluggish, not too hard, not too soft touch.

The choice to leave out cymbals on the first verse is brilliant.  Makes it very understated, focuses attention on the vocal, of which again Harrison's voice sounds perfectly soft and executed.  The lyric itself - something in the way she moves - is a simple musing that is simultaneously profound.

The strings are not overbearing, and are perfectly mixed.  The washy Leslied guitar sound builds and recedes perfectly; the sweep is also timed perfectly (something I can't really replicate when playing this live).   McCartney's overly-fat woofy bass sound fills out the spectrum in as "warm" of a manner as possible, without being intrusive.

The little warbly/tremoloed guitar accents on the bridge are a perfect touch, very subtle as a contrast to the timing of the vocal.  Everything to that point is a delicate balance of being *almost* too sparse of an arrangement. Wonderful.

Then the recapitulation of the main theme: the strings suddenly swell, great dramatic contrast, perfectly arranged/mixed.

The middle 8: bombastic, which complements the lyrical shift to a sort of confrontational content.  It also sets up the solo -

which I think is in my Top Ten Guitar Solos list.  It's perfect IMO.

The tail-out section following the solo bookends nice, with the little brash descending chromatic phrase right before the last repeat of the theme - fade to the strings.

About as perfect as it gets.

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