Within You Without You
Composer(s) : Harrison
Year : 1967
Chords/Tabs: Within You Without You
Notes on "Within You, Without You" (WYWY)
KEY C# (modal)
METER 4/4 et al
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse' -> Refrain ->
(Instrumental) 2-times Verse' -> Intro ->
Verse' -> Refrain (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- This intense and musically complex synthesis of Beatles pop, summer-of-
'67-sensibility, and classical Indian music is not to be taken lightly,
and certainly not with ease. Along with "Love You To" and "The Inner
Light," it represents George's most unabashed, full-blown, and
unadulterated embrace of the Indian musical style.
- The song appears to remain strangely fated, for many, to fall between
two stools. Granted, it has a sinuous/sensuous and sweeping tune, and
the fusion of styles is technically elegant and clever. By the same
token, I'm sure that for those already initiated to the intracacies
of Indian music, this piece must seem a bit "kosher style" rather
than "Kosher;" an attempt to popularize which, no matter how unquestionably
sincere and well intentioned, is willing to settle for sentimental
over simplification at the risk of misunderstanding and at the expense
of accuracy. And then there's the folks who thought they bought a
rock album and simply find this track to be an irritating, impatience-
inducing interruption of the dynaflow.
- Lewisohn speaks of how the song was conceived in three large sections
from the start, and indeed, this conception survives clearly in the
finished product; a sprawling A-B-A structure, with two vocal sections
that surround a central instrumental break.
- One thing I'll say is that this song displays a tremendous melodic
gift; with many long arch-like phrases as well as a sensitivity to
the need for carefully paced passionate peaks; all of which is brought
off with almost textbook-like proficency but never a hint of the pedantic.
Melody and Harmony
- Our Western concept of differing "modes" yields an almost
one-to-one mapping between scale patterns and "mode" names. In
contrast, the Indian melodic system of "ragas" goes beyond this
and involves a one-to-many mapping between scales and "ragas"; in
which case, each of the latter is to be identified by its unique
points of melodic emphasis and characterizing riffs.
- In our current song we find that the predominant "scale" is very
much like the Western "Mixolydian mode"; i.e. the scale with a
Major third at the bottom and a flat 7th at the top. But it goes
deeper than that.
- The verses have their melodic floor on the 3rd degree of the scale
and present the so-called 1st degree only in its incarnation at the
octave above. Furthermore, the refrains feature a conspicuous emphasis
on the 2nd, 4th, and 6th degrees, and, best of all(!), the extended verses
feature a break with the scale pattern by featuring the flat melodic 3rd;
the latter, motivated by imitating a motif heard in the regular verse
(5-flat 7-8; i.e. minor third followed by whole step) but transposing it
to start on the 1st scale degree (i.e. 5-flat7-8-flat3-4). And
I *adjure you* to stretch your mind to understand what I'm describing,
even if you never took a music theory course. It's not that difficult;
I promise, trust me :-)
- On the harmonic side, of course, we have a very traditional Indian drone;
in Western terms, the "I chord" sustained throughout; the philosophical
ramifications of which are as profound as they are obvious.
- The somewhat floating rhythmic/metric feeling one associates with
traditional Indian music is conjured here by non-traditional means.
Indian music uses a fixed rhythmic pattern, called a "tala," which
may contain an uneven number of measures, not all of which are in
the same meter, but as a rule, the pattern itself is repeated over
and over. The soloists create the floating feeling by the extent
to which they, jazz-like, bounce off or fight against the underlying
pattern. In this song, the meter simply seems to be quite unpredictably
changeable, especially so in the instrumental section.
- The instrumental forces are primarily Indian: tamboura drone (recorded
close up to accentuate its gritty, grinding metalic texture), tabla
drums, dilruba (a bowed string instrument), and sitar, coupled with a
fussy arrangement for Western bowed (and plucked) strings.
- The Indian instruments are used primarily in their traditional
roles of ornamentally doubling the lead vocal and more freely improvising
on the melodic material when given the chance to fly solo. The Western
strings, by contrast, are deployed in their own indigenous manners
of antiphony and canonic imitation.
- The track opens with a slow fade-in on the drone followed by a leisurely
exposition by the dilruba of one of the main arch-shaped melodic riffs
of the song:
*3*-4-5-*7*-*8*-*7*-5 *4* 1
- Melodic points of emphasis are the floor on 3, the 7-8-7 wavering at
the top, the avoidance of 6, and the prominence given to 4 on the way
- The end of this section feature an atmosphere-setting glissando on
the swordmandel (remember SFF?), and a couple
pickup measures worth of action on the tabla.
- The opening verse is cast in an AAB pattern where the first two
parallel phrases are each six measures long, followed by a third
phrase whose rhythm is more freely irregular.
- In contrast to the intro, the first part of the tune in this section
retains the emphasis on 3 and 7 but delays reaching to the octave into
late in the final phrase. Again, 6 and 4 are given emphasis.
- The tabla provides a continuous accompaniment, the dilruba doubles
the lead vocal while making small subtle variations on it, and the
Western strings enter at the very end in preparation for the next
- The second verse starts off very similarly to the first one, but
its third phrase is extended in a way that leads naturally to the
Refrain section. Interestingly, this formal trick is something we've
seen in other more traditionally pop songs of the Beatles.
- The B-phrase here stretches all the way up to a full 11 notes
above the melodic root with a last-minute modification of the
scale; as we mentioned, the topper-most lick here include flat 3
for the first time.
- The instrumentation of this section is similar to that of the first
with the addition of bowed Western strings in counterpoint to the
lead vocal, and in some small cases, doubling it.
- The Refrain is in an even freer meter than the last phrase of
the verse; indeed, the number of beats in a measure seems to change
as frequently as you'd encounter them to in a piece by Stravinsky
- This section *appears* to be built out of two iterations of a
single phrase, but closer inspection shows the two phrases are
not quite identical; think of those "Twins" of Diane Arbus :-)
I'd spell this point out in painstaking detail but you'd get
bored, and besides, I'd prefer to get this song done with and
move on to the rest of this album. If you ask me for collateral, I've
got the gory details pencilled out literally on the back of an envelope
which I'll show you if you drop over some time.
- The melody here places continued emphasis on 6 and 4 which are allowed
to resolve to 5 and 3 respectively. At the end, though, the tune leaves
off with a fleeting hold on 2 which it leaves to the dilbruba to resolve
with its backward-resonating reference to the 8-7-slow-slide-to-8 riff.
- The higher Western strings provide antiphony in this section, while
the lower pitched of them sound like they reinforce the drone.
- Freedom of meter reaches its extreme in the instrumental middle section.
I have listened to this section with my feet tapping like a metronome and
fail to discern any kind of tala-like fixed high-level pattern. I'll grant
this may be my weak failure, but somehow, I kind of doubt it :-).
- The instrumental features two free variations on the complete Verse'
section. In the first, the dilruba leads with antiphonal interjections
from a sitar, while Western strings provide a percussive pizzicato
accompaniment. In the second, the strings take over the prerogative
of the dilruba while the sitar's role remains antiphonal, yet assumes
a pizzicato-like percussiveness of its own.
- The section ends with a reiteration of sorts of the intro which nicely
sets up the final Verse'/Refrain section.
Final Verse and Refrain
- Formalistically, this last section consists of a repeat of the
Verse' and Refrain, but the arrangement is changed around this time
in a number of respects, the most significant of which is that the
dramatic sweep up to high 4 (f#) is given to the bowed Western
strings *minus* the lead vocal; none of this "if they only knew"/
unbearable-tension this last time around; Yet another still more
novel demonstration of avoiding foolish compositional consistency.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- So what about the laughing at the end? I'm aware of at least
two schools of thought on the matter:
The xenophobic audience (remember there's an underlying element
in the Sgt. Pepper "concept" that at least indirectly connotes
a Victorian/Edwardian-era outlook of supercilious Empirialism)
is letting off a little tension of this perceived confrontation
with pagan elements.
The bedazzled composer, in an endearingly sincere nanosecond of
acknowledgement of the apparent existential absurdity of the son-of-
a-Liverpudlian bus driver espousing such other-wordly beliefs
and sentiments, is letting off a bit of his own self-deprecating
steam in reaction to the level of true courage expended by him
in order toto come out of the uneasily-anti-materialistic closet.
- But, don't you think it's a combination of the two?
"You want stop being so scornful; it's twisting your face." 031096#113
Copyright (c) 1995 by Alan W. Pollack
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Ook op Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
(c) 2020 Serge Girard