Look at the structure of "Yesterday." A musical movement is given in the first stanza. The lyric opens with THE hook, the title. The first line is a simple melody, rising in an explanatory vocal fashion. If it were spoken in a conversation with a friend it wouldn't sound like it was being sung, simply stated in explanation. It's the way people talk. If you listen to conversation you can hear notes rise and fall in pitch, clip short or sustain longer for effect.
The next line descends the same way, in a conversational, explanatory manner, lyrically and melodically. The last line of the stanza finalizes the musical movement, completing the explanation and the movement, hitting the hook again.

Then the lyric repeats that musical movement, note for note, exchanging "Yesterday" for "Suddenly," and the other lines further explain the singer's story.

Now, if it was to repeat that musical movement a third time, even with new lyric advancing the story, it would risk monotony. It doesn't. It rises into the chorus, more intensive emotionally, both lyrically (meaning) and melodically, and each line piecing together this new musical movement, refreshing to the ear, and weaving back to end with the hook. That's four hits on the hook. It hits it five more times before the end, driving home that title 9 times.

Having had this refreshment of the variant melody of the chorus the listener is now ready to hear the first musical movement repeat a third time, in fact, wants to hear it again, having 'learned' it in the giving of the first and second verses.

The song is deceptively simple. Each line is a piece of the complex of the musical movement comprising the verses, and the chorus, not just the lyrical story. Singing it as notes without words reveals these pieces, separated by rests (commas, periods).

Not every song is as 'simple' as "Yesterday," getting the job done with fewer words (125 words and 7 hummed notes), but even wordier works can be analyzed by their component parts. Does each line do a job, supply a demanded function? The words lyrically advance the story. None should be extra, without purpose. The notes musically construct the melody, purposefully. A lyric can be 'tweaked,' cutting unnecessary words, changing words or lines to best do a job you want done. Enunciation can be altered from common spoken technique to 'sung' technique, to better communicate to the listener. A melody can be tweaked with notes changed to rise or fall in pitch, to clip durations short or sustain them longer, to achieve desired effects of emotion or demanded effects of communication of word meaning, or prosody, the 'marrying' of the lyric to the melody and beat.

What a wonderful art form. Moldable like clay.

Last edited by Gary E. Andrews; 10/03/07 02:40 PM.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com