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March 1, 2013 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Hey Jude in Minor Scale. Smells Like Teen Spirit in Major Scale. The Final Countdown in Major. Beat It in Major. Losing My Religion in Major.
posted by spiderskull (66 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
And more from MajorVsMinor's channel.
posted by spiderskull at 11:47 PM on March 1, 2013


Smells Like Teen Spirit in major key just sounds like the Pixies.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:55 PM on March 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


More minor/major conversion previously.
posted by barnacles at 11:59 PM on March 1, 2013


And Riders On The Storm in major key sounds like utter muzak. Funny what a key shift can do.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:00 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is triggering memories of that amazingly terrible Songsmith video.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:08 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's no Legion of Rockstars.
posted by bardic at 12:13 AM on March 2, 2013


Always with the major scale. What about the minor scaled songs? The happy tunes need to be taken down a notch for all us people who want to hear the misery.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:20 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Hey Jude notwithstanding...that is indeed a sad song made better. And by sad, I mean awful.)

Please don't throw things at me.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:22 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


iamkimiam: There are a few more of them on MajorvsMinor's channel: Material Girl, Waterloo

I don't think they're as successful as the minor key songs majorized. Probably for the same reason that there's a lot more happy music with sad lyrics than sad music with happy lyrics.
posted by aubilenon at 12:34 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, uhh, can somebody fill us non-musicians in on the difference? Sure, I can hear it. But I don't know what I'm hearing.
posted by notyou at 12:37 AM on March 2, 2013


notyou, songs have "base keys" or "tonics". Every other key has a relative distance from the tonic; this distance from the tonic is what we mainly hear when we hear those keys in a way we interpret as "together", e.g. in the same song. "Scales" are sequences of these relative distances, and you have things like the "major third" (that is, the third key in the major scale relative to the tonic) and the "minor third" (the third key in the minor scale relative to the tonic). Part of what they've done here is (I presume) switch minor thirds to major thirds and vice-versa.

It also happens that we tend to interpret major intervals as "happy" (or at least not-sad) and minor intervals as "sad". I'm not sure why or whether this is inborn or cultural or what.
posted by wayland at 12:50 AM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Eh, if you want to make Losing My Religion sound cheerful you'd do better to double the tempo and make it a polka.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:02 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah this is weird. I quite like the Smells Like Teen Spirit version, but Nothing Else Matters is so horrible I can't listen.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:17 AM on March 2, 2013


So, uhh, can somebody fill us non-musicians in on the difference? Sure, I can hear it. But I don't know what I'm hearing.
posted by notyou at 12:37 AM on March 2 [+] [!]


Well I don't know if I can do it.

But it has to do with the distance in your eyes.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:17 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Listening to these is such a time sink. Not only do I have to try to sing the sings in the wrong key, but then i have to go sing it in the correct key to get my head screwed back on straight. No more.

Though I kinda like minor Hey Jude.
posted by cmoj at 1:20 AM on March 2, 2013


I'll be over there with the spotlight and such. Might have said too much though....
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:23 AM on March 2, 2013


No 'Lick my love pump'?
posted by tigrefacile at 1:23 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's odd how Metallica, Europe etc majorised sound so bland but the Beatles minorised still sounds like a good (but not great) Beatles song.

Also y'all know this is the current challenge over at mefi music, right? Go take a listen over there too
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:28 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's my new favorite version of Hey Jude, no joke. So unsettling.
posted by mannequito at 1:39 AM on March 2, 2013


Pretty much the only one of these I could listen to was "Losing My Religion".

Okay, so there's a huge difference between minor keys and major keys - which is why musicians chose one or the other. Is there something instructive about listening to loads of different songs that have been converted? Are some more right/wrong than others?
posted by crossoverman at 2:49 AM on March 2, 2013


My whole life I've heard the terms major scale and minor scale and it's never made sense to me until now.
posted by zardoz at 3:03 AM on March 2, 2013


You just need to change the thirds and sixths - lowering them by one semitone if shifting from major to minor and raising by one semitone if shifting from minor to major. The other notes stay the same.
posted by moorooka at 3:11 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed hey Jude in a minor key
posted by mattoxic at 3:15 AM on March 2, 2013


You just need to change the thirds and sixths - lowering them by one semitone if shifting from major to minor and raising by one semitone if shifting from minor to major. The other notes stay the same.

Why is this an interesting thing to do?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:20 AM on March 2, 2013


Why is it interesting? Because it's the simplest 'rule' that can be applied to a piece of music that leaves you with something that is recognizably the same song, but with a different but still consonant nature. If you tried adjusting all your fourths and fifths by semitones it would sound like shit.
posted by moorooka at 4:08 AM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


These completely freaked me out. So familiar, yet so different!
posted by juliebug at 4:17 AM on March 2, 2013


Bad Moon Rising in minor. On cellos.
posted by Peevish at 4:43 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, the melody for Hey Jude in minor is kind of epic.
posted by Peevish at 4:43 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a killer in the road! :-D His brain is squirmin' like a toad! b(^_^)d
posted by biddeford at 4:50 AM on March 2, 2013


So far Losing My Religion and Smells like Teen Spirithas sounded the most natural to me, but whoa, that Hey Jude one is awesome in the most disorienting way.
posted by Corduroy at 4:56 AM on March 2, 2013


They turned Hey Jude into redcheck tablecloth Italian restaurant music!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:21 AM on March 2, 2013


Californication by RHCP sounds AMAZING. Some of these tunes really open up hidden dimensions to the songs with this shift.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:26 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Smooth Operator sounds like Everything But The Girl.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:29 AM on March 2, 2013


Came here to say exactly what dunkadunc said. I'd love to hear Frank Black cover SLTS like this.
posted by photoslob at 5:39 AM on March 2, 2013


Smells Like Teen Spirit in major key just sounds like the Pixies.

To be fair, even the original sounds just like The Pixies to me. But I might be a bit of a Pixies fan.....
posted by ish__ at 5:41 AM on March 2, 2013


Of course, there's also the February MeFiMusic Challenge.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:41 AM on March 2, 2013


Indeed! From the challenge:

Walking on Sunshine
Any Major Dude Will Tell You
Margaritaville
Jack the Ripper
Another Brick in the Wall
Karma Police
High and Dry
Here Comes the Sun
Astonomy Domine
Walk Into de Parlor Jig
posted by unSane at 5:42 AM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Major version of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics.
posted by Nossidge at 5:50 AM on March 2, 2013


iirc last time we established that they didn't reharmonize the songs, right? They just dropped (for example) the vocal melody A notes in "Hey Jude" to Ab. (What about the 6th and 7th?)
posted by thelonius at 6:21 AM on March 2, 2013


Minor key songs are the fast food of pop songwriting. The vast majority of current pop music is in a minor key because its easy, it's cheap, and it works pretty much every time. Em is evil, Am is melancholy, Dm makes people weep instantly, I dunno whoy. Minor keys are high-fructose corn syrup and grease.

The true measure of a songwriter's chops is a major key. If it's in a major key without being too jokey, sappy or boring, it just might be good. It's just that writing a good major key song turns out to be difficult. Those beetle guys made it look easy.
posted by petebest at 6:38 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Show Must Go On is actually more melacholy when in a major key.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:51 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those beetle guys made it look easy.
posted by petebest
Eponysterical
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:14 AM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


deadmessenger: "The Show Must Go On is actually more melacholy when in a major key."

You just broke my brain.
posted by notsnot at 7:57 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how this guy would handle the B chord in the verse of 'I want to hold your hand'; to this day nobody can define whether it's major or minor. It's like a magic chord.
posted by colie at 8:57 AM on March 2, 2013


Minor key songs are the fast food of pop songwriting. The vast majority of current pop music is in a minor key because its easy, it's cheap, and it works pretty much every time. Em is evil, Am is melancholy, Dm makes people weep instantly, I dunno whoy. Minor keys are high-fructose corn syrup and grease.

Eh, this is only because most "minor key" songs are actually just modal tunes in the Aeolian or Dorian modes, and in non-academic contexts that distinction is elided. The minor mode in the classical sense is actually more of challenge to handle in light of the juggling act you have to perform between where you want your harmonies to go and the established tendencies of the ascending and descending scale forms.
posted by invitapriore at 9:22 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


You just need to change the thirds and sixths - lowering them by one semitone if shifting from major to minor and raising by one semitone if shifting from minor to major. The other notes stay the same.

Well, it's that easy for the tonic chord. Changing the key of the song, though, has effects on changing every other diatonic chord in that scale too.
posted by ctmf at 9:24 AM on March 2, 2013


So, uhh, can somebody fill us non-musicians in on the difference? Sure, I can hear it. But I don't know what I'm hearing.

wayland's explanation is totally correct but maybe a bit technical?

I think the operative difference to non-professional ears such as mine is that songs in major keys tend to sound brighter, happier, and more juvenile. Examples that come to mind are: We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Star Wars (Main Theme), Row Row Row Your Boat, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Singing in the Rain, "Knuckles" (on the piano), Call Me Maybe (except for the little melancholy twitch in the words "call me maybe" themselves, more below) and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. It's much more common in older pop songs. Synesthetically, the major key recalls fruit drink or daytime colors.

Minor keyed songs tend to sound more "serious." Examples: Scarborough Fair, We Found Love, Man Down (and almost anything else by Rihanna), Beethoven's 5th Symphony (at least, the most iconic part), (Jennifer López's) Waiting for Tonight, and the entire galaxy of similar club style songs. Synesthetically, black coffee, dry wines, and nighttime colors come to mind.

Many songs are a mixture of major and minor. When I was a kid, I used to love to play Paul McCartney's Dear Boy, mainly because it was dead easy to plunk out on a piano, but also because of the rather straightforward correspondence between the minor and major moods and the song's lyrics.

Minor: Guess you never knew, dear boy, what you had found...
Major: When I stepped in, my heart was down and out; But her love came through and brought me 'round; got me up
Minor:and about.

There are some songs in a major key that are "contrary to type" and have a melancholy nature, which tend to be deeply evocative in a richer sense than what petebest above calls the "fast food" of minor composing. For example, Taps, Amazing Grace, sometimes Ring Around the Rosie.

Also see a related HuffPo article.
posted by xigxag at 9:26 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


What Would You Think If I Sang Autotune?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:46 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes to what xigxag says. Interesting compositions (like by Sir Paul or Bacharach) often shift between major and minor glimmers in the melody. You even hear some of this in the original 'Losing My Religion', so when the whole thing is converted into a major key then the overall sense of motion is gone, and it sounds curiously static.
posted by ovvl at 9:57 AM on March 2, 2013


Interesting compositions (like by Sir Paul or Bacharach) often shift between major and minor glimmers in the melody.

Singing the minor third over a major chord (or some microtonal in-between note) is what we call 'bluesy' and it is everywhere in pop?
posted by colie at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2013


Oh, wow, Englishman in New York sounds like a show tune now.

I don't drink coffee, I drink TEA, my dear!
posted by bpm140 at 10:41 AM on March 2, 2013


I wonder how this guy would handle the B chord in the verse of 'I want to hold your hand'; to this day nobody can define whether it's major or minor. It's like a magic chord.

I don't think there's any mystery there -- it's a B7 chord, i.e. major. It's a V of vi in the key of G, but it resolves deceptively to the IV. See Alan W. Pollack's analysis. And chords with no major or minor quality aren't uncommon in pop music -- they're either suspended chords if they replace the third with the 2nd or 4th (although those usually resolve to major or sometimes minor), or if they lack a third altogether they're called power chords (although the third can still be implied, so the chord quality is often clear anyway).

Singing the minor third over a major chord (or some microtonal in-between note) is what we call 'bluesy' and it is everywhere in pop?

I think the "shifting between major and minor" referenced above is more about the mode mixture that's prevalent in the works of The Beatles and others. E.g., "Can't Buy Me Love" has the straightforward "bluesy" flatted melody notes against dominant chords, but then there's the liberal use of notes and chords borrowed from the parallel key in songs like "Penny Lane," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "You Won't See Me," etc., or the pivoting key centers of songs like "Here, There, and Everywhere" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Minor key songs are the fast food of pop songwriting. The vast majority of current pop music is in a minor key because its easy, it's cheap, and it works pretty much every time. Em is evil, Am is melancholy, Dm makes people weep instantly, I dunno whoy. Minor keys are high-fructose corn syrup and grease.

I think that's an odd assertion. The vast majority of listeners, lacking perfect pitch, will hear no distinction between different minor keys. And if I had to choose, I'd associate major keys with pop music rather than other way around. Plus, minor keys inherently provide more melodic and harmonic potential without really borrowing from other keys due to the co-existence of the natural, melodic, and harmonic minor.

Anyhow I think this is a neat project, but also weird to listen to, partly because despite the impression this may give off, shifting a song from major to minor is not like flipping a switch, where there's a single, obvious "right answer." It involves making choices, and two people given the same task might produce different results. I think some of the choices made with these transpositions are probably dictated by technological limitations, and so they end up sounding odd and a little unnatural, above and beyond the unnaturalness of hearing a familiar song in a different way. In other words, if someone were to make a whole new recording of Hey Jude in a minor key, I think it could be made to sound better.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:43 AM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Perhaps the chord at the beginning of "A Hard Day's Night" was what was thought of? That has been considered enigmatic and elusive, although I find this solution convincing.
posted by thelonius at 10:51 AM on March 2, 2013


I don't think there's any mystery there -- it's a B7 chord, i.e. major. It's a V of vi in the key of G, but it resolves deceptively to the IV.

No, it's more bonkers than that... I'm going on the detailed discussion in 'Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles' by Dominic Pedler. He says that Pollack, as you say, hears a major B chord but others including Walter Everett hear a Bm and claim that 'the ear supplies the diatonic D natural that is not actually heard.' Ian McDonald also says the chord is minor.

Lennon can be seen making a B7 shape apparently on some films, but the note is not there in the recording (and he often changed his chord shapes as he felt like it). The whole issue is not helped by the heaps of compression on Lennon's guitar in the recording which also led some to believe there was an organ on there as well.

Listen to the very clear B7 that *is* present in the recording, at the end, in the outro bit where they sing 'hand' for the penultimate time before the last ha-a-a/ha-a-a and ending. The contrast is there structurally.

Another great Beatles mystery...
posted by colie at 10:58 AM on March 2, 2013


Perhaps the chord at the beginning of "A Hard Day's Night" was what was thought of?

Yeah, that would make sense. My Beatles sheet music book notates it similarly to how it's described in that video, and labels it Gsus4/D. On one guitar I play a G7sus4 (353533) which approximates it pretty well.

No, it's more bonkers than that... I'm going on the detailed discussion in 'Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles' by Dominic Pedler. He says that Pollack, as you say, hears a major B chord but others including Walter Everett hear a Bm and claim that 'the ear supplies the diatonic D natural that is not actually heard.' Ian McDonald also says the chord is minor.

Well, I disagree with those guys, but either way I don't think it would be strange. B minor would be the diatonic chord, and B7 would be a common secondary dominant. But to my ears it's clearly B7 -- maybe my ear would supply a D natural if Paul didn't put a D# so prominently in the bass in the preceding measure each time the chord occurs.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:04 AM on March 2, 2013


Yeah, that's totally a B7, I don't understand the dispute. The last instance of the fifth scale degree that you hear is a D#, so it's fresh in the mind, plus a B7 is the natural choice to lead insistently into the C at the beginning of the chorus.
posted by invitapriore at 2:12 PM on March 2, 2013


In trying to comprehend the opposite viewpoint I sang a D over that harmony and it sounds pretty wack, which is all the evidence I need.
posted by invitapriore at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2013


I can't accept that this is a simple matter, since Walter Everett is the leading Beatles musicologist in the Schenker type tradition and he finds the chord more minor than major, and writes (I'm a bit out of my depth here I confess) about how this elusive chord contains much of the tension that drives the whole song.

Perhaps some of the ambiguity comes from the way the vocals descend to a low, intense, closed-in kind of F sharp in the first phrase (on 'stand' of the phrase 'I think you'll under *stand*), but then rise up to a passionate falsetto euphoric high F sharp at the end of the verse (on the word 'hand'). The ear is experimenting with hearing the chord as minor and major at different times (if we accept that there is definitely no D sharp sounded on any instrument at the time.)

Pollack notes that 'I saw her standing there' also has a third in the descending refrain which Lennon sometimes sings minor and sometimes major according to his mood.
posted by colie at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2013


Just blame it on that pesky tritone.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2013


I'm not denying that the chord's identity is debatable on paper, but I think it's based on a reification of music-theoretical constructs (which isn't to say that Schenkerian analysis isn't a useful analytical tool in a lot of cases). A well-founded theoretical argument isn't going to change how I hear that chord, and I don't think there's any meaningful sense in which someone can hear something wrongly, as long as they're apprised of all the tonal elements in the passage in question. This, to me, points out a situation where the theory maps imperfectly onto the cognitive reality, as with the argument around the tonal identity of the Tristan chord, which I think is similarly wrong-headed. I'd be much more interested in a survey of a large population to see how they identify that chord, maybe by the indirect means of seeing how comfortable they are with a D versus a D# being played over it. I wouldn't be surprised to see a substantial divide among those surveyed, with the differences in interpretation owing to environmental factors that we probably don't have the scientific machinery to model. I also wouldn't be inclined to call any of those interpretations "wrong," in the same sense that a linguist would refuse to call a particular dialect "wrong," and in fact I would trust that body of responses as a testament to the chord's ambiguous nature over the argument of the aforementioned musicologist, who is probably (let's admit it) more reification-prone by virtue of his education. Probably someone has already done this kind of research -- I haven't really kept up with anything going on music theory since I graduated.
posted by invitapriore at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I was singing in E flat minor!"
"The SONG's in F sharp MAJOR!"
"Uh, I think they're the same thing... I mean, E flat is the relative major of F sharp."
"No it isn't! The relative minor is three half-tones DOWN from the major, not up!"
"No, it's three down. Like A is the relative minor of C major."
"But isn't A sharp in C major?"
"Wait, are you singing mixolydian scales or something?"
"A sharp is tonic to C major! It's the sixth!"
"No it isn't!"
"Well, it would be like a raised 13th if anything."
"You guys are just a bunch of loser diggers anyway..."
"Oh see? You know we're right!"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:57 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think "Final Countdown" in a major key is actually just the score to The Neverending Story.
posted by vytae at 7:46 PM on March 2, 2013


invitapriore, I don't think we're really disagreeing that the fascination with the chord is precisely the fact that it can be defined differently, and a music theory or a psycho-acoustic-whatever theory can be used to justify either.

I'd be much more interested in a survey of a large population to see how they identify that chord


Me too, but it's also true that this type of perception changes over time and that what sounds 'wrong' or ambiguous or 'of a strange dialect' in 1950 may be totally normal for the kids of 1999. So it's always a moving target anyway.

Apparently McCartney experienced a bout of depression just after recording most of 'Revolver' when he listened to the tapes and said he thought it all sounded a bit 'out of tune'.
posted by colie at 3:46 AM on March 3, 2013


I really really love the major version of Losing My Religion. Like it's a totally different song but I think it's amazing.
posted by Brainy at 9:50 PM on March 3, 2013


I think "Final Countdown" in a major key is actually just the score to The Neverending Story.

Just listened to this and a centaur ran in and picked me up and put me on his back and galloped away on a rainbow while a banner reading "GOOD JOB" descended from sky, being carried by cherubs. Possible glitch? Mods? Mods?
posted by Greg Nog at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2013


Oleg Berg explains how he did it.
posted by Start with Dessert at 9:39 PM on March 24, 2013


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