Monday, 7 February 2011

12:18 Come Together (pt 4) Missing Notes & Altered Chords

You know a song is a classic when you can write four posts on a song and still have more to say. But (for now) here's the last post on Come Together.

So far we've focused on the lyrics, and melody.

The verse is a masterclass in minimalism. The guitar plays only the R 5 6 of the scale and the lead vocals use only the b7 R b3. hearing that 6 in the guitar part makes you assume the backing is major and Lennon is bluesifying his melody, (Ticket 22) but he's omitting the third completely (Let's make missing out notes Ticket 40!).

To Blues or not to blues (slight return)

You could look at the structure two ways. Either the verse is an altered 12 bar blues (Ticket 19) being reduced to eight bars long or, if you include the chorus, it's a 12 bar with an altered chord progression  (Ticket 33). Whichever way you take it, it's a nearly blues.

12 bar blues

D D D D             I I I I
G G D D             IV IV I I
A G D A             V IV I V

Come Together verse

D D D D            I I I I
A A G G            V V IV IV

Come Together (verse & chorus)

D D D D           I I I I
A A G G           V V IV IV
Bm G, A D D    vi IV, V I I

(on some verses this is extended to 14 bars by adding two more bars of D)

Slapback claptracks and other space oddities

The song is filled with great instrumental hooks (Ticket 3) - the unorthodox drumming during the intro, the sparse bass and guitar riff, Lennon's slapback-echoed clapping (recorded with the lead vocals) & the bass drum 'solo' (at the end of each verse).

Almost everything is cool and creative, from the way Ringo avoids the cymbals and snare in the verse to the band dropping out to accent the last line of the vocals (Ticket 30). In fact the only minor weak spot is the slightly lame harmony guitar solo (played by Lennon & Harrison) in fourths and very similar to Sun King inspiration Albatross (check out Albatross from 2:07 to 2:20).

(You can learn more about the arrangement of Come Together in this BBC documentary excerpt).

Next we're back to the mixed bag that is The Long One but now it's your turn -

What's your favourite moment/part of Come Together? Any great songwriting ideas I've missed? (I'm sure there are...)


  1. My favourite part is the bass line at the end of the solo. Also the very long bass note at the end of the song is interesting.

  2. I love the fact that it is so laid back. In some ways, and I should take note of this, the sparseness actually makes the song better.

    The rhythm is spot on throughout, showing how Macca and Ringo worked brilliantly together when they were really into it.

    I'm glad that George Martin produced this, along with Martin's crack team of engineers.

    I think the claptrack stems from one of Lennon's vocal tracks, when he got carried away and just clapped along. Normally when some of us get carried away when recording vocals and do something like that, we would stop and retake it. Here they decided to leave it and make it a part of the song, genius - another case of The Beatles using a happy accident as they called it.

  3. @Marv - I may be wrong but I think the clapping was deliberate. They were still working on 8 tracks - you don't have the luxury of a track just for clapping!
    It is a powerful argument for sparseness!

    @Rob - yep! the bass is awesome throughout. And Macca's electric piano isn't too shabby either!