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I Want to Hold Your Hand

Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1963

Chords/Tabs: I Want to Hold Your Hand

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" (IWTHYH)

KEY G Major

METER 4/4

FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (complete ending)

GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST

Style and Form

- On the surface IWTHYH is deceptively straightforward and regular in design. Its high-level form is a standard two-bridge model with only one verse (and no solo) intervening between the two bridges. Similarly, its phrase lengths appear for the most part to be symmetrically even, and its backbeat for long stretches sounds closer to conservative pop than rebelliously hard rock.

- And yet, by the same token, just about everyone of the Beatles early trademark tricks of the trade is to be found within it: the abrupt syncopations, non-intuitive two-part vocal harmony, falsetto screaming, an ocassionally novel chord progression, even some ellided phrasing. And of course, don't forget the overdubbed handclaps!

- Perhaps it is just this paradoxical contrast between familiar and more daring elements that is at the heart of the song's phenomenal success.


Harmony

- The list of chords used is not particularly unusual in itself, though the way they leave the V-of-vi chord (B Major) repeatedly unresolved in the verse sections is rather creative. The subtle leaning toward the relative minor key is reminiscent to some extent of what we saw recently in "Not A Second Time"; and as I mentioned there in connection with "A Day In The Life", the same choice of key here yet again seems beyond mere coincidence.

- There is also the relatively rare occurence of a full-blown pivot modulation to the key of IV (C Major) in the bridges.


Arrangement

- John might be said to be the lead vocalist here because it is he who sings the tune proper while Paul is delegated to singing harmony above him, but most notably, there is no actual vocal *solo* in the song; i.e. they sing in duet virtually the whole way through, albeit with frequent shifting back and forth between singing in unison and that "patented" vocal counterpoint style of theirs in which they seem to go out of their way to court open fourths and fifths, instead the more traditional thirds and sixths.

- In addition to the handclaps already mentioned, Paul plays quite a bit of double-stops in the bass part, Ringo throws in some of his structurally signficant drum fills in between the second and third phrase of each verse, and most subtle of all, George contributes a number of lead guitar fills which you almost don't notice per se, but have always been part of your special enjoyment of the recording.

SECTION-BY-SECTION WALKTHROUGH

Intro

- This is a classic opening right into the midst of the action if ever there was one. It converges toward the home key, starting on IV and moving quickly with heavy syncopations into a big buildup on the V chord.

- This intro is four measures long, but it opens with one and a half beats of music preceding the first downbeat. The syncopations place the accents on the eighth notes which follow the third and fourth beats of the measure, which is a bit hard to grasp at first because of the abrupt way in which the music starts. By measures 3 and 4 though, the rhythmic backing (especially the lead guitar) helps get you better oriented with the way in which it clearly beats out four in the bar:

Accents:        ^ ^      ^ ^      ^ ^              "Oh yeah, I ..."
Beats  	       3&4& 1&2&3&4& 1&2&3&4& 1 2 3 4  1 2  3  4     1
		CCD|-----CCD|-----CCD|- - - - |- - -  -    ||G (verse)

	G:     IV V     IV V     IV V                        I

- This large of a climax so early in the evening, so to speak, is unusual and draws one's immediate and expectant attention.

- If you're a big maven of the film "A Hard Day's Night" then you probably have noticed long ago that Paul, in a rare moment of exuberant spontaneity, horses around at the end of their performance of "If I Fell" in the film by playing the bass riff for parllel fifths from this intro while simultaneouly tripping the live fantastic for just an instant.

Verse

- The all-important verse section here is twelve measures long, but (surprise!) it's hardly a standard blues frame:

     mm. 1-4, 5-8
	 ----------------------------  2X  -----------------------------
	|G		|D		|e		|B		|
G:	 I	 	 V	 	 vi	 	 V-of-vi




     mm. 9 - 12
	|C   	D	|G   	e	|C   	D	|G		|
	 IV  	V   	 I      vi       IV   	V   	 I

- The first two phrases form a couplet in which each contains the same harmony and even melody; the sole difference being that the first phrase melodically ends going *down* to f#, but the second goes *up* to that note (an octave higher than the first time). The third phrase, with its suddenly double-timed harmonic rhythm, provides the refrain-like title/hook which balances out and resolves the tension accumulated over the course of the preceding couplet.

- The overall melodic arch peaks on the downbeat of measure 10, but in some ways it's an anti-climax, because the more palpable point of no-return occurs on the syncopated and falsetto-drenched leap to the high f# just before the downbeat of measure 8. You don't need to be a musicologist in order to feel such things :-)

- The first two phrases each veer straight toward the key of the relative minor, e, via a deceptive cadence, finishing off on the V of e. In the first instance, this V-of-vi is left dangling like a non-sequitor when the next phrase starts off all over again from I (G) as though nothing had happened. Furthermore, this juxtaposition of the G and B Major chords creates a tastily wavering cross-relation between the notes d# and d natural, somewhat analogous to what we saw regarding the relation between the chords on I and flat-III in "Hold Me Tight." In the second instance, the B chord is itself resolved deceptively by the move to IV (C) at the beginning of the final phrase.

- The chromatic-scale-fill played in parallel fifths on the bass guitar during the second half of measures 2 and 6 may well be one of the most easily recognized riffs in all music history. Note, by the way, how neatly George coordinates his own little twang to coincide with the end of Paul's riff.

- The rhythmic scanning of the words breaks up the natural phrasing of the lyrics with frequent pauses, adding a sweet hint of bashful tongue- tiedness to the affair; e.g. oh yeah, I (pause) tell you something (pause) I think you'll understand etc.

- The restraint with which the vocal duet, sung primarily in unison, is allowed to briefly blossom forth into two-part harmony for only a few measures (mm. 8 - 10) is a good demonstration of how less can be more.

Bridge

- The bridge has an unusual length of eleven measures. What I think happens here is that what "should" have been a more standard eight-measure bridge of two equal phrases is adjoined to a recapitulation of the song's intro in such a way that the last measure of the 8-measure bridge is ellided with (or perhaps interrupted by) the first measure of the intro-recap:

	|d	|G	|C	|a	|
C:	 ii	 V       I       vi




        |d      |G     |C    CCD|-----CCD|-----CCD|- - - -|- - -  -||G (verse)

C:       ii      V      I
                     G: IV  IV V     IV V     IV V                    I

- Harmonically, we have a textbook pivot modulation to the key of C. Additional textural contrast with the surrounding verses is achieved by a change in drumming. I also happen to especially like, in the measure immediately preceding the bridge, the way the guitar plays a couple of choppy chords on the off-beats in direct antiphony with the bass.

- We have a great example in the voice parts of how The Boys could find an opportunity in even rather mundane melodic situations to set up one of their splendid open-fifths. When the music of the intro returns here and they sing the words "I can't hide" three times in a row, John sings the notes c-c-D in all three cases, whereas Paul on the top part sings e-e-F# the first two times, but very naturally precedes up the scale to sing g-g-A the third time, creating the parallel fifths with John.

- In the avoidance of foolish consistency department they feature in the second bridge section a duet for two-part harmony the whole way through.

Outro

- As we've seen in other songs, the outro here is developed as an outgrowth of the final verse. Measure 12 is modified the last time around so that instead of going home to the I chord (G), it moves quite deceptively to the V-of-vi (B), which neatly motivates a "petit-reprise" (no joke -- a legitimate 'technical' term in the parlance of the French Baroque!) of the IV-V-I title phrase. Note, by the way, the incorporation of the intro-like lead-guitar riff into that deceptive cadence.

- But wait -- there's still one last bang-up surprise to come: the slow triplets and the chord progression which interpolates two measures of *IV* coming in between the V and its ultimate resolution to I; talk about your pent-up but eventually fulfilled gratification!

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

- This ever-popular number was released as a single in England (B/w "This Boy") precisely one week after the "With The Beatles" ablum near the end of November '63. It is undeniably one of the Beatles all-time blockbusters and in many ways represents the compositional culmination of what might be called their their Very Early period.

- The next recordings to appear would be the March '64 single of "Can't Buy Me Love" (B/w "You Can't Do That"), by which time the Beatles would have their first appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show behind them and the AHDN film project to look forward to. Their world (and ours, for that matter) by then would be forever changed, and this fact would appear quite obviously in the new music they would write from then onward. Though still relatively 'early' in comparison to "Rubber Soul" or "Sgt Pepper", the songs on "A Hard Days Night" represent a quantum leap from the first two albums in both technical command and temperament.

- But getting back to IWTHYH, in context of November '63, it was the best they could do, a kind of summing up of all they had done to-date. And almost 30 years later, in spite of all its seemingly puppy-love simplicity, and for reasons so ineffible that I can't come close to adeqiately explaining them with in spite of all my analysis, it *does* hold up remarkably well, like a classic.

Regards,
Alan (awp@bitstream.com *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)

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"In deinen Arme bin ich gluecklich und froh." 122491#43
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Copyright (c) 1991 by Alan W. Pollack All Rights Reserved This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.


Ook op Past Masters, Vols. 1:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
From Me to You From Me to You
Thank You Girl Thank You Girl
She Loves You She Loves You
I'll Get You I'll Get You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
This Boy This Boy
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
Sie Liebt Dich 
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
I Call Your Name I Call Your Name
Slow Down Slow Down
Matchbox Matchbox
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
She's a Woman She's a Woman
Bad Boy Bad Boy
Yes It Is Yes It Is
I'm Down I'm Down

Ook op Past Masters, Vols. 1:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
From Me to You From Me to You
Thank You Girl Thank You Girl
She Loves You She Loves You
I'll Get You I'll Get You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
This Boy This Boy
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
Sie Liebt Dich 
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
I Call Your Name I Call Your Name
Slow Down Slow Down
Matchbox Matchbox
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
She's a Woman She's a Woman
Bad Boy Bad Boy
Yes It Is Yes It Is
I'm Down I'm Down

Ook op 1962-1966:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
Please Please Me Please Please Me
From Me to You From Me to You
She Loves You She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
All My Loving All My Loving
Can't Buy Me Love Can't Buy Me Love
A Hard Day's Night A Hard Day's Night
And I Love Her And I Love Her
Eight Days a Week Eight Days a Week
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
Ticket to Ride Ticket to Ride
Yesterday Yesterday
Help! Help!
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
We Can Work It Out We Can Work It Out
Day Tripper Day Tripper
Drive My Car Drive My Car
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
Nowhere Man Nowhere Man
Michelle Michelle
In My Life In My Life
Girl Girl
Paperback Writer Paperback Writer
Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby
Yellow Submarine Yellow Submarine

Ook op On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2:

ChordsNotes On
And Here We Are Again (speech) 
Words of Love Words of Love
How About It, Gorgeus? (speech) 
Do You Want to Know a Secret Do You Want to Know a Secret
Lucille 
Hey, Paul... (speech) 
Anna (Go to Him) Anna (Go to Him)
Hello! (speech) 
Please Please Me Please Please Me
Misery Misery
I'm Talking About You 
A Real Treat (speech) 
Boys Boys
Absolutely Fab (speech) 
Chains Chains
Ask Me Why Ask Me Why
Till There Was You Till There Was You
Lend Me Your Comb 
Lower 5e (speech) 
The Hippy Hippy Shake 
Roll over Beethoven Roll over Beethoven
There's a Place There's a Place
Bumper Bundle (speech) 
P.S. I Love You P.S. I Love You
Please Mr. Postman Please Mr. Postman
Beautiful Dreamer 
Devil in Her Heart Devil in Her Heart
The 49 Weeks (speech) 
Sure To Fall 
Never Mind, Eh? (speech) 
Twist and Shout Twist and Shout
Bye, Bye (speech) 
John Pop Profile (speech) 
George Pop Profile (speech) 
I Saw Her Standing There I Saw Her Standing There
Glad All Over 
Lift Lid Again (speech) 
I'll Get You I'll Get You
She Loves You She Loves You
Memphis, Tennessee 
Happy Birthday, Dear Saturday Club 
Now Hush, Hush (speech) 
From Me to You From Me to You
Money (That's What I Want) Money (That's What I Want)
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
Brian Bathtubes 
This Boy This Boy
If I Wasn't In America 
I Got A Woman 
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
If I Fell If I Fell
A Hard Job Writing Them (speech) 
And I Love Her And I Love Her
Oh, Can't We? Yes We Can (speech) 
You Can't Do That You Can't Do That
Honey Don't Honey Don't
I'll Follow the Sun I'll Follow the Sun
Green With Black Shutters (speech) 
Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley] Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley]
That's What We're Here For (speech) 
I Feel Fine (Studio Outtake)
Paul Pop Profile (speech) 
Ringo Pop Profile (speech) 

Ook op 1:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
From Me to You From Me to You
She Loves You She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
Can't Buy Me Love Can't Buy Me Love
A Hard Day's Night A Hard Day's Night
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
Eight Days a Week Eight Days a Week
Ticket to Ride Ticket to Ride
Help! Help!
Yesterday Yesterday
Day Tripper Day Tripper
We Can Work It Out We Can Work It Out
Paperback Writer Paperback Writer
Yellow Submarine Yellow Submarine
Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby
Penny Lane Penny Lane
All You Need Is Love All You Need Is Love
Hello Goodbye Hello Goodbye
Lady Madonna Lady Madonna
Hey Jude Hey Jude
Get Back Get Back
The Ballad of John and Yoko The Ballad of John and Yoko
Something Something
Come Together Come Together
Let It Be Let It Be
The Long and Winding Road The Long and Winding Road

Ook op Love:

ChordsNotes On
Because Because
Get Back Get Back
Glass Onion Glass Onion
Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby
Julia Julia
I Am the Walrus I Am the Walrus
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
Drive My Car / The Word / What You're Doing 
Gnik Nus 
Something Something
Blue Jay Way Blue Jay Way
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! / I Want You (she's So Heavy) / Helter Skelter 
Help! Help!
Blackbird / Yesterday 
Strawberry Fields Forever Strawberry Fields Forever
Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows 
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Octopus's Garden Octopus's Garden
Lady Madonna Lady Madonna
Here Comes the Sun Here Comes the Sun
The Inner Light The Inner Light
Come Together / Dear Prudence 
Cry Baby Cry Cry Baby Cry
Revolution Revolution
Back in the U.S.S.R. Back in the U.S.S.R.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps While My Guitar Gently Weeps
A Day in the Life A Day in the Life
Hey Jude Hey Jude
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
All You Need Is Love All You Need Is Love

(c) 2019 Serge Girard