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Posts Tagged ‘plagal cadence’

Following the Bridge to Bryan Adams’s “Everything I Do” with Cadences

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I was at my company’s national sales meeting in Florida this past week, and there was so much going on it was hard to even blink. As days progressed, the IT group had less and less to do, and since there were multiple pianos throughout the resort and were most of the time open, during breaks I had time to mess around.

I was thinking of good piano songs, and I remembered a ballad from Bryan Adams called “Everything I Do (I Do It For You,” which is a great love song that came out during the early 90′s for the Robin Hood soundtrack. The song itself is in Db Major for the most part, until it reaches the bridge (“There’s no love, like your love”), and everything takes an interesting turn.

I like analyzing these interesting chord changes because it deviates from what you’re used to hearing, plus the different tensions in the progression makes it very pleasing to the ear when done correctly.

Ready for some theory?

Just as a reminder, the roman numerals signify what note degree of the scale you are on. In C Major, a I is a C, a ii is a D and so forth.  Capital roman numerals signify a major chord should be played when using this particular note as a root, and lowercase numerals signify a minor chord.  For the vii-0, the “-o” signifies a diminished chord.

It’s interesting how this song moves along with cadences along roots, perfect IV’s and V’s, across a few different scales then makes its way back to the Db Major it started out in.

For those who don’t know what a cadence is, it’s basically a two chord progression.  The most common are authentic cadences with are V-I progressions (V gives you the feeling like you need to resolve and I resolves it nicely, like the song or verse can end here), half cadences which are cadences that end in a V (sounds suspended, unresolved and needs to continue to progress due to an unresolved V chord), and plagal cadences also known as the “amen” cadence because it sounds like that’s where the “Amen” should go in church.  A plagal cadence is a IV-I progression, and it sounds resolved but not as smooth as an authentic cadence.

Here’s a clip of the song, 4 bars in, which is just a Db Major, Ab Major, then Db Major (authentic cadence) for 2 bars:

and the chord progression so you can follow along:


Cb(B) Fb(E)
There’s no love like your love
Cb(B) Gb(F#)
And no other, could give more love
Db(C#) Ab(G#)
There’s nowhere, unless you’re there
Eb(D#) Ab(G#)
All the time, all the way

The instrumental then hits where the first chord is a Gb, then to a Db, and we’re back to the Db Major scale for the rest of the song.


First move they make, is using a Cb (B) Major first, a full step below the I chord, and it wouldn’t normally have a place in a typical major scale. The 7th note in a major scale is a half step and not a whole step below, and so the chord that would fit a major scale using that 7th note as the root would be a vii-0 (a diminished chord). In the case of Db Major, the 7th note would be a C and the chord would be a C diminished chord ((7) C, (2) Eb, (4) Gb).

If you know the song Heaven, also by Bryan Adams (in C Major, Sammy’s version is a D Major), it has a similar drop in the middle of the verse. In the middle of the verse, he would use a Bb Major then go into an F Major and then a G Major (“.. but that’s over now, you keep me coming back for more”).

It sounds very pleasing to the ear, and these aren’t the only cases that they use this technique. On The Beatles “Let it Be,” during the descending chord progression before the instrumental, you can hear Paul play a Bb Major for the same effect.

But why does it work?Let’s take a look at the two scales (the original for this song, Db Major, and the change in the bridge to B (Cb, for clarity) Major) side by side:

Db Major: (I) Db, (ii) Eb, (iii) F, (IV) Gb, (V) Ab, (vi) Bb, (vii-0) C, Db

Cb (B) Major: (I) Cb, (ii) Db, (iii) Eb, (IV) Fb, (V) Gb, (vi) Ab, (vii-0) Bb, Cb

And for those who ask why it’s in Db and not C#, it’s easier to write in Db than C# because you deal with 5 flats in a Db, and 7 sharps in a C#. Less complicated. Since a B Major is written in sharps, I opted to write it in Cb Major so you can see the similarities in flats easier.


Cb(B) Fb(E)
There’s no love like your love

When the bridge comes in, it hangs on an Eb note, which the two scales have in common, so a Cb Major chord can work here, before resolving to an E.  The road then takes an interesting turn.

From a Cb(B) Major, we go to an E Major chord. The notes being played are an Eb to an E. The progression works as an authentic cadence, which for those who don’t know, is a two chord progression, V-I, B Major to an E Major for the E Major scale. It’s a common way to feel resolution.  Since we’re going to an E, we’ll write the Cb Major scale as a B Major scale so we can use sharps in the comparison:

B Major: (I) B [Cb], (ii) C# [Db], (iii) D# [Eb], (IV) E [Fb], (V) F# [Gb], (vi) G# [Ab], (vii-0) A# [Bb], B [Cb]

E Major: (I) E, (ii) F#, (iii) G#, (IV) A, (V) B, (vi) C#, (vii-0) D#, E

From the E Major, we go to a B Major, which is a half cadence, I-V (any cadence finishing on a V is a half cadence), and it sounds normal with that suspended feeling in the E Major scale; or is it a plagal cadence, IV-I, for the B Major scale? Either way, it seems fine, but we would have to continue on to see where it goes from here.


Cb(B) Gb(F#)
And no other, could give more love

From the B Major, we go to an F# Major. That doesn’t work in an E Major scale, it should be an f# minor (ii). It works however for the B Major scale, since the F# Major is a V chord, and since it feels suspended, the B-F# becomes a I-V half cadence.

B Major: (I) B [Cb], (ii) C# [Db], (iii) D# [Eb], (IV) E [Fb], (V) F# [Gb], (vi) G# [Ab], (vii-0) A# [Bb], B [Cb]


Db(C#) Ab(G#)
There’s nowhere, unless you’re there

From the F# (Gb) Major chord, we go back to the Db Major scale by playing a Db Major chord to start the fifth bar (plagal cadence, IV-I). The next chord is an Ab Major, which works as a I-V half cadence in Db Major. So far, so good!


Eb(D#) Ab(G#)
All the time, all the way

But then it goes to a Eb Major chord! It doesn’t work with a Db Major scale, so we must be in the Ab Major scale since that’s the preceding chord. That gives us a half cadence, I-V, in Ab Major.

Db Major: (I) Db, (ii) Eb, (iii) F, (IV) Gb, (V) Ab, (vi) Bb, (vii-o) C, Db

Ab Major: (I) Ab, (ii) Bb, (iii) C, (IV) Db, (V) Eb, (vi) F, (vii-o) G, Ab

It then ends on an Ab Major, V-I, authentic cadence.

To start the instrumental, it goes to a Gb Major, which would help us move back to a Db Major scale via a plagal cadence (IV-I).

Db Major: (I) Db, (ii) Eb, (iii) F, (IV) Gb, (V) Ab, (vi) Bb, (vii-0) C, Db

Things could have been much simpler had the writers kept things to key, but where’s the glory in that?  The end result was a nice flowing, moving piece that sounded great to the ear.

More to come later this week with two songs due out by this weekend!  Make sure you stay tuned for that!

-mnshyn

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