Pedal points!

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This is a consonant note that's sustained when chords change even though it may not be a note of the new chord.

Commonly talked about with regard to the bass sustaining the root note of a key while chords change over it. Just listening to "Honey Chile" by Martha and the Vandellas, which is a great use of it!

List other favorite pedal points here.

timellison, Sunday, 28 April 2013 00:56 (five years ago) Permalink

very similar if not the same progression/use of pedal point to Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Sunday, 28 April 2013 00:59 (five years ago) Permalink

Huh, yeah, those are the same chords! I-IV-ii

timellison, Sunday, 28 April 2013 01:12 (five years ago) Permalink

Beach Boys' "Slip on Through" (from Sunflower) has this in the chorus. I guess it's most common with a I-IV progression.

timellison, Monday, 29 April 2013 02:34 (five years ago) Permalink

I can think of lots of jazz/classical examples but rock and pop examples are tougher.

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Monday, 29 April 2013 02:48 (five years ago) Permalink

Actually, "Darlin'" does it, too, right at the beginning.

timellison, Monday, 29 April 2013 03:02 (five years ago) Permalink

John Coltrane used a bass pedal point on a few pieces, probably most famously in "A Love Supreme". Modal jazz often centered around a pedal point bass line.

earlnash, Monday, 29 April 2013 03:27 (five years ago) Permalink

The Schubert song "Die Liebe Farbe," from "Die Schoene Muellerin," sustains a pedal point through the entire piece. It's this constantly repeated eighth note in the right hand of the piano. Really haunting and gorgeous.

leon d'amaleon, Monday, 29 April 2013 03:46 (five years ago) Permalink

How about I-bVII progressions? The verses on "Boogie Fever" by the Sylvers have a bass pedal point for that.

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 01:26 (five years ago) Permalink

ooh i like that this thing i like has a name. is there a name for its kind of opposite, e.g. when a bassline changes under a repeating melody (if that makes sense)?

the kind of man who best draws girls' eyeballs (Merdeyeux), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 01:52 (five years ago) Permalink

Well there is a thing that some call by the name of CESH- standing for Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony.

Blue Yodel No. 9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 01:55 (five years ago) Permalink

Wasn't familiar with the concept until Alex Ross's New Yorker piece about Radiohead -- apparently they do it a fair bit?

What makes a man start threads? (WilliamC), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:01 (five years ago) Permalink

ha, nice, not quiiite as elegant as pedal point but as far as scientificity goes that's a real winner.

the kind of man who best draws girls' eyeballs (Merdeyeux), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:01 (five years ago) Permalink

i've never really understood pedal point. like, superstition and sex machine are often given as examples of pedal point in pop, but i'm not sure i understand what distinguishes them. the bass doesn't repeat the tone constantly throughout superstition's dissonant changes, though everything does resolve only when it drops back to it. is that the crux? not the maintenance of the consonant/dissonant tone (as in drone music), but the fact that it provides the eventual resolution?

controversial vegan pregnancy (contenderizer), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:03 (five years ago) Permalink

Pink Floyd's "Us And Them" holds a D pedal point under all the changes in the verse.

Huston we got chicken lol (Phil D.), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:05 (five years ago) Permalink

Tim put it really simply in the OP:
"This is a consonant note that's sustained when chords change even though it may not be a note of the new chord."

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:14 (five years ago) Permalink

Bonus Martha and The Vandellas video- watch for the bass player!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mKm9BZU3n8

Blue Yodel No. 9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:23 (five years ago) Permalink

I don't think Sex Machine and Superstition are really "pedal point" they're just songs that linger on the same chord for a long time

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:25 (five years ago) Permalink

Think of the sustained G that runs through Blackbird. That's basically a pedal point although not in the bass register.

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:26 (five years ago) Permalink

Wait till 6:10 in that video to see a guy who has been known to use a pedal point or two, although can't think of an example apart from original post

Blue Yodel No. 9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:37 (five years ago) Permalink

okay, yeah, after some reading and listening, i get it. simpler than i was thinking. it really is just a sustained note or tone. thanks for the assist.

controversial vegan pregnancy (contenderizer), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:54 (five years ago) Permalink

i wanna be your dog piano for ex

controversial vegan pregnancy (contenderizer), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:06 (five years ago) Permalink

Tim put it really simply in the OP:
"This is a consonant note that's sustained when chords change even though it may not be a note of the new chord."

I dunno, I would say that the bass is sustaining a note then by definition it's a part of the harmony. it's can't not be in the chord.

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:49 (five years ago) Permalink

"if the bass is sustaining"

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:49 (five years ago) Permalink

It's an interesting thought. In the case of "Honey Chile," then, you'd have to say that the ii chord is a minor seventh in third inversion.

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:55 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah you can argue that -- obviously the very fact that the bass note IS sustaining puts whatever note it is playing "in the chord". Really you're talking about implied harmony, where you have a progression that would "intuitively" or "normally" go to a chord that does not include the bass note, and yet the bass note stays the same when it goes to that chord

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:55 (five years ago) Permalink

I don't know what you'd say when the tonic is sustained in the bass over a bVII chord, though, like in the "Boogie Fever" example.

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:56 (five years ago) Permalink

That it's a radically inverted ninth chord?

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 03:57 (five years ago) Permalink

that's the same as the "Nowhere to Run" progression isn't it? Yeah, I'd just say it's a 9th chord

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:06 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah, cool, another Motown one. It's in the saxophone on that record.

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:16 (five years ago) Permalink

I don't know what you'd say when the tonic is sustained in the bass over a bVII chord, though, like in the "Boogie Fever" example.

― timellison, Tuesday, April 30, 2013 11:56 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

an eleventh chord on the tonic played without a third and fifth

ḉrut (crüt), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:20 (five years ago) Permalink

I like that, actually, because it acknowledges that the tonic is in the bass.

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:23 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah, cool, another Motown one. It's in the saxophone on that record.

― timellison, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:16 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

actually it's sort of in the bass too -- the bass doesn't actually sustain the note, but it doesn't play the bass notes of the chords either, it just does a little walk-up lick around the tonic

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:26 (five years ago) Permalink

I don't know what you would technically call it when the bass is a half step up from what should normally be the root of the chord, but it's a cool sound. It's used to great effect in the Manfred Mann version of Little Red Book.

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:56 (five years ago) Permalink

I think on Nowhere to Run I would just say it goes from F to G/F. Little Red Book is Bb/C.

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 04:59 (five years ago) Permalink

whole step, not half step

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 05:03 (five years ago) Permalink

Whole step up is a ninth like somebody posted up thread. It's actually not too uncommon an effect in certain situations to construct a bass line, walking or otherwise, where you hit the ninth where the root would be.

Blue Yodel No. 9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 05:23 (five years ago) Permalink

Guess the interesting questions being raised by this thread are:
1) From the original post: Who is it that decided to put the pedal point in? One would think that in a lot of cases the composer or arranger put it in, but in the case of Motown there is a good chance that it was James Jamerson, who was given an incredible amount of freedom in the studio, who came up with it.

2) From the discussion: what is the best name for a chord given that the lowest note does not seem to be the obvious root of a well-known chord shape or part of a common inversion of a well-known chord shape? Some people would say this involves examination of the surrounding harmony /steve_goldsoundz

Combining the two this thread forced me to remember that recently a friend of mine who is a really good bass player told me he played some kind of common pedal/sus note on a tune but the piano player he was playing with wasn't familiar with it or didn't like it, so he had to argue for his note.

Blue Yodel No. 9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 06:04 (five years ago) Permalink

Ah, it just occurred to me that Joni Mitchell uses these all over the place, and in really interesting ways. "All I Want," "Both Sides Now," "A Case of You."

Maybe these would be better described as drones. But I suppose the distinction is less musical than, er, social? Drone has a "folk" connotation and pedal point has a "composed" connotation.

leon d'amaleon, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 14:25 (five years ago) Permalink

I think on Nowhere to Run I would just say it goes from F to G/F. Little Red Book is Bb/C.

― wk, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:59 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

whole step, not half step

― wk, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 1:03 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Those are both whole steps!

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 14:29 (five years ago) Permalink

2) From the discussion: what is the best name for a chord given that the lowest note does not seem to be the obvious root of a well-known chord shape or part of a common inversion of a well-known chord shape? Some people would say this involves examination of the surrounding harmony /steve_goldsoundz

Well a lot of these chords are commonly written as something like "Fmaj/G" (F major over G)

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 14:34 (five years ago) Permalink

"Never Let Me Down Again" is completely built off of the idea of the vocal line as an inverted pedal point, as is most of "Behind the Wheel"

Call me at **BITCOIN (DJP), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 14:57 (five years ago) Permalink

Well a lot of these chords are commonly written as something like "Fmaj/G" (F major over G)
Yeah, sure, if somebody wrote it down like that, as a slash chord, then that's what the name is. But if somebody just gave you the notes of the chord, you might want to weigh the options.

Blue Yodel No. 9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:32 (five years ago) Permalink

The Beatles' "Getting Better" is an interesting example. The verses are not really a pedal point so much as a drone, I guess, but it's played by nearly all the instruments in the arrangement - bass, guitar, sitar, piano - in different octaves while the vocal melody is very, very busy.

Huston we got chicken lol (Phil D.), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:39 (five years ago) Permalink

Those are both whole steps!

― huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 14:29 (1 hour ago)

yeah I corrected myself. you even quoted it! it was late and I was drunk.

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:40 (five years ago) Permalink

My music theory teacher once said to me "you jazz guys are always coming up with a chord name for everything -- 'Oh, that's an A flat nine sus 4 sharp five flat nine chord'"

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:42 (five years ago) Permalink

Whole step up is a ninth like somebody posted up thread. It's actually not too uncommon an effect in certain situations to construct a bass line, walking or otherwise, where you hit the ninth where the root would be.

seems weird to call it a 9th if it's in the bass though, doesn't it?

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:47 (five years ago) Permalink

it's a neg1

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:48 (five years ago) Permalink

er no I guess it's be a neg7

huun huurt 2 (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:49 (five years ago) Permalink

lol

wk, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 15:51 (five years ago) Permalink

Just realized it's in six-four, too!

timellison, Thursday, 23 May 2013 01:43 (five years ago) Permalink

And the pedal-like pentatonic thing happens in the extra two beats in the measure.

timellison, Thursday, 23 May 2013 02:03 (five years ago) Permalink

Chorus of "Listen to What the Man Said" has a bass tonic pedal underneath a ii chord at the beginning and then over I-ii-iii ("That's what the man said/So won't you listen to what the man said?").

timellison, Saturday, 25 May 2013 02:59 (five years ago) Permalink

R.E.M.'s "You Are the Everything" - alternates between I and V and bass keeps pedal on V.

timellison, Wednesday, 29 May 2013 02:19 (five years ago) Permalink

(Kind of the reverse of a tonic pedal on I and IV.)

timellison, Wednesday, 29 May 2013 02:20 (five years ago) Permalink

"Pleasant Valley Sunday!"

timellison, Thursday, 30 May 2013 03:04 (five years ago) Permalink

so many hüsker dü songs have drone notes...Mould's fingers are usually glued to the B and/or E string

i also enjoy in line skateing (spazzmatazz), Thursday, 30 May 2013 17:05 (five years ago) Permalink

Since the term "pedal point" references the organ-music practice of sustaining a low note on the pedal-board, this thread is overdue for something like a Bach toccata. BWV 540 is my favorite example, beginning with a long tonic pedal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA7lKynygsE

My favorite moment in the whole toccata is the fake-out, following a long dominant pedal point, where a final cadence would normally occur. It happens around 7:35 in the above video (but roll back to 7:04 to hear it in context with the pedal point that sets it up). Since I'm in music-professor mode -- for which I do apologize -- I have to mention that this device is known as a deceptive cadence,

Pyotr Ilyich Chai Latte (Paul in Santa Cruz), Friday, 31 May 2013 18:10 (five years ago) Permalink

OK, Four Tops' "It's the Same Old Song" is in C major. There's that riff at the beginning of the song that goes C-D-E-A, where A is a long note. It rests on A.

Anyway, when the verse starts, it's a C major chord, but the bass keeps playing that riff!

timellison, Saturday, 8 June 2013 02:59 (five years ago) Permalink

The Who's ''magic bus'' is a good example, yes? Though I remember hearing somewhere that Entwhistle wasn't exactly in love with it.

rattled, Saturday, 8 June 2013 07:35 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

The persistent E minor guitar chord in "London Calling." Bass implies E minor to C in the intro, then E minor to F to G in the verse.

timellison, Saturday, 3 August 2013 18:12 (five years ago) Permalink

Good catch.

Recurring intro riff to that tune always sounds Wagnerian to me, like "Ride of the Valkyries" a little although maybe it's something else.

The O RLY of Everything (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 3 August 2013 18:29 (five years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

"Everlasting Love" - Robert Knight

timellison, Sunday, 25 August 2013 05:25 (five years ago) Permalink

Pedals are everywhere. The 2-note guitar solo in Boredom (E and B) is a pedal point over the main riff, which includes 2 very dissonant chords at the end, F and Eb, then moves down a semitone to chime with the final Bb chord.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Sunday, 25 August 2013 20:11 (five years ago) Permalink

"Your Mother Should Know" - The first two chords are A minor to F, but it sounds like the piano stays on A minor (making the chord F-A-C-E, a major seventh).

timellison, Monday, 2 September 2013 03:20 (five years ago) Permalink

There's a prominent E in the melody, too. You have to wonder whether they realized that.

timellison, Monday, 2 September 2013 04:23 (five years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

I have just realised that my very, very favourite thing in music is the literal opposite of the Pedal Point:

Where the guitar holds a one-note drone through the whole chord progression, and the bass goes wandering about, carrying the melody through the chord changes.

Basically, you do that, and I am *yours*.

Combat Cretaceous Renewal (Branwell Bell), Saturday, 22 February 2014 11:39 (four years ago) Permalink

that's a pedal point too!

fact checking cuz, Saturday, 22 February 2014 18:53 (four years ago) Permalink

Length of Love. Length of fucking Love. Guitar on pedal point, motorik Stereolab beat, Duran Duran bassline.

Just take me, I am yours, guitar pedal points.

*flails helplessly*

Bipolar Sumner (Branwell Bell), Saturday, 22 February 2014 18:57 (four years ago) Permalink

TS: pedal point on the tonic vs. pedal point on the fifth

death and darkness and other night kinda shit (crüt), Saturday, 22 February 2014 19:02 (four years ago) Permalink

xp I mentioned something I think is similar what's going on in that Interpol song upthread and learned that in jazz circles it has the wonderfully scientific name of 'Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony', or, if you're a real head, simply CESH.

Merdeyeux, Saturday, 22 February 2014 19:08 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh god I am such a sucker for this, and I've realised that every single one of the Interpol songs I really love and carolanne on is just a giant gleeful pedal point love-in. Like, I am so predictable in my musical loves, but also slightly relieved that there is a reason that there is a reason for me finding this stuff such musical catnip. Sure, 'Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony' sounds better than "fingerbanging guitar solo" but that's exactly what it was on The New, just this long, hanging pedal point in the form of this endless one-note guitar riff that the rest of the band kind of revolves around.

Mammoth has one, too. It's so fucking obvious now I'm hearing it for the... 18th time or whatever. The whole song is based around this blang-blang-blang-blang guitar pedal point, and then the bass goes into a glam descend - SORRY! I learned the fancy pants word for "glam descend" it is apparently, an ~"Andalusian cadence"~ - and that is just one of those musical manoeuvres I am completely helpless in the face of. And then for the middle 8, they switch, and the guitar takes the glam descend the bass goes on the pedal point and it's just... oooh magic.

It's really super super obvious stuff, and I kinda hate myself a little for falling for it. But yeah. Kessler seems to be all about pedal points and that's what scratches my musical itch in this otherwise terrible, terrible band. yes.

Bipolar Sumner (Branwell Bell), Saturday, 22 February 2014 19:31 (four years ago) Permalink

i think 80% of any music i have ever made falls into this category. no shame.

rhyme heals all goons (m bison), Saturday, 22 February 2014 19:49 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh. I just gave in and watched a live video because I was so curious about that "fingerbanging guitar solo" and oh. Oh oh oh. First, I'm glad that my ears for production are accurate, and the guitar is doubled. But mostly oh. Oh oh oh. The ~secret~ to that sound and it is not a tremolo arm either it is oh it is oh oh oh ooohhh. That is very clever, very very clever, oh.

But really, I cannot wait until this obsession ends because spewing this obsession over every thread is really getting silly now.

But still. Oh.

Bipolar Sumner (Branwell Bell), Sunday, 23 February 2014 01:00 (four years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

"Surrender"

timellison, Saturday, 9 April 2016 01:47 (two years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

The Who - "The Real Me"

timellison, Monday, 6 June 2016 17:50 (two years ago) Permalink

Styx - "Fooling Yourself"

timellison, Friday, 10 June 2016 03:18 (two years ago) Permalink

every Hüsker Dü song

flappy bird, Friday, 10 June 2016 03:22 (two years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

The "California Girls" one where it goes from a tonic major chord to a minor five chord at the beginning of the verse.

timellison, Monday, 4 July 2016 20:28 (two years ago) Permalink

That's a good chord change.

socka flocka-jones (man alive), Tuesday, 5 July 2016 00:31 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

"Darling Be Home Soon"

timellison, Sunday, 23 July 2017 01:56 (one year ago) Permalink

Hm. Will have to listen to again

Under Heaviside Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 July 2017 01:57 (one year ago) Permalink

five months pass...

"Detroit Rock City"

timellison, Saturday, 20 January 2018 07:54 (ten months ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Love or Confusion"

timellison, Wednesday, 27 June 2018 17:34 (five months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

"Got to Get You into My Life"

timellison, Thursday, 12 July 2018 19:22 (five months ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp1HWhnpfvs

timellison, Monday, 16 July 2018 18:55 (four months ago) Permalink

every Hüsker Dü song

― flappy bird, Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:22 PM (two years ago)

flappy bird, Monday, 16 July 2018 18:56 (four months ago) Permalink

Really?

timellison, Monday, 16 July 2018 20:49 (four months ago) Permalink

somebody pointed it out upthread--joni mitchell is the queen of pedal points

ant banks and wasp (voodoo chili), Monday, 16 July 2018 20:53 (four months ago) Permalink

Pavement - "We Dance" almost qualifies, there's a brief A-major containing a C# but all other chords in the song pedal around the D on the b-string.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 16 July 2018 22:27 (four months ago) Permalink

Your Song (the intro)
Maybe I'm Amazed ("maybe i'm a man")

ant banks and wasp (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 18 July 2018 01:30 (four months ago) Permalink

"Xanadu"

timellison, Saturday, 21 July 2018 01:35 (four months ago) Permalink

"Even in the Quietest Moments" by Supertramp wins this - the backdrop of a constant D in the bass throughout the entire song underlies a shifting palette of major, minor, dominant, and diminished chords, often with 7ths atop them. There's at least seven different chords in the verses and chorus, more if inversions are counted separately. très cool

Lee626, Saturday, 21 July 2018 03:39 (four months ago) Permalink

Opening riff and chorus to Cliff Richard, "We Don't Talk Anymore"

timellison, Saturday, 21 July 2018 16:51 (four months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

"Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies"

timellison, Saturday, 3 November 2018 06:22 (one month ago) Permalink

ooh i like that this thing i like has a name. is there a name for its kind of opposite, e.g. when a bassline changes under a repeating melody (if that makes sense)?

My favorite example of this is Peter Gabriel's "It Is Accomplished" (from Passion). The whole song is one four-note sequence (A-G#-F#-E) while the bass creates new chords each measure (A B F#m C#m A B E). The bridge is the same four-note sequence with the bass adding a new chord and sequence (D E, repeated).

SlimAndSlam, Sunday, 4 November 2018 02:27 (one month ago) Permalink

There are so many Genesis and Phil Collins tracks that make use of this.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Sunday, 4 November 2018 19:41 (one month ago) Permalink

Holger Czukay to thread.

Alma Kirby (Tom D.), Sunday, 4 November 2018 19:45 (one month ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

"If I Needed Someone"

timellison, Monday, 3 December 2018 03:53 (one week ago) Permalink


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