Hey guys,

I've recently gotten back into guitar and am in the midst of teaching myself keys etc.

So basically, the verse goes
D G7 D G7
repeats then
E A7
returns to the D G7


In the verse, D and G7 do not belong to a single key correct? I realize that E and A7 have the same spacing as D and G7. Does this mean that its basically D and E and that means it is in the key of A?

Then with the chorus, G A and C do not belong to a single key either to my understanding.

The verse is in D and the chorus is in G.

The G7 in the verse is a chromatic alteration of a G(maj7) chord, which is the diatonic IV chord. It borrows the F natural from the parallel key, D minor.

The E chord is a secondary dominant to the V (A7). So that makes this section a V/V V7 (I).

The A in the chorus is a chromatic alteration of an Am chord, which is the diatonic ii chord. It can also be seen as a non-functioning secondary dominant (V/V).

Then at the end of the chorus, it does that Bm Em A7 turnaround back to the D in the verse. Bm and Em are pivot chords, meaning they are common to both the key of D and G.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
I am still a little lost, how can Gmaj7 be allowed to be altered to G7 diatonically speaking? Is there something special going on in the song which allows this to happen? Because based on what you said I do not have any reason to think that any IV maj7 chord can be switched to IV7 and get away with it.

Same goes for the chorus, why are you allowed to make a chromatic alteration to the Aminor?

Also I hadn't realized how the pivot chords functioned, thanks
you have to remember that although it's good to learn the "rules" music isn't always written with them. This is a clear example of they prob were not thinking about any theory when writing. Just melody. Btw, we use IV 7 chords all the time in blues.
You can get away with it because it sounds good.

Pink Floyd were a very experimental band and through that experimentation honed their craft. As they went on their sound, while still experimental, was harnessed to create something more widely accessible ultimately culminating in the more popular Animals, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall albums (but also still out there enough to keep their original psycadelic fan base)

It's not a matter of something being allowed or not. The only thing that determines whether something is allowed is the ear.

Perhaps what you mean is that it is interesting that they made this alteration and you wonder what in particular makes it work?

That G7 is actually a G7/D.

What Roger Waters is doing is playing the major and minor thirds off each other. This is a technique known as "false relations". The F♯ in the D major chord clashes with the F in the G7 chord creating a strong dissonance.

Note that the same false relation between the major third and minor third is also evident in the vocal melody and emphasized in the slide guitar.

I can't be bothered writing the music out but I'll write the notes above the words for the vocal melody:

F♯  F♯ F♯ F♯      D  F♯ F♯  F♮
The lu na tic     is on the grass


This out of place F♮ is more than just a passing tone. (A passing tone is an out of key note played as you are on the way to a more consonant note).

In fact this jarring F♯ - F♮ relationship is the underlying premise that the song seems to be built around. The clash of these two notes creates a disorientating sound that seems to express musically what is being sung about insanity, the world is going crazy all around us and maybe we are too. It puts us in unfamiliar territory and makes us question what is "normal".

The G7 is just a good choice of chord to harmonize that F♮ but it doesn't provide any really strong harmonic movement. It's just going back and forth between the G and D with the D as the bass for both. This part is all about accentuating that out of place F♯ and F♮ clash.

Then it goes into the E/D A7 D which is in a way a II7 V7 I cadence. This is a very very common chord movement that has strong harmonic movement. Thus there are two "parts" if you like, the fairly static harmonic D G7/D D G7/D followed by a strong harmonic movement E/D A7 D (II7 V7 I).

The II7 V7 I does more than just provide forward momentum.

Often when we are delving into concepts or sounds that are unusual or aurally challenging, such as this intriguing F♯ - F♮ clash that Pink Floyd are exploiting so well, there is a risk of alienating the listener.

To prevent this it is important to provide something stable and familiar for the listener to grab on to and reorientate themselves with. The II7 V7 I serves this function perfectly. It provides a safe framework and a kind of relief from the more challenging dissonances that were so strong before.

As with many great songs this song uses two tricks well -
1. the music reinforces and seems to be saying musically what the words are saying lyrically. In this case mental instability and insanity.

2. It balances (and contrasts) the unfamiliar and unexpected, with the safe and familiar. (The F♯ and F♮ clash being the unfamiliar with the II7 V7 V being the familiar).

There's a lot more happening in this song too. But hopefully that helps a little. My last post was pretty technical and difficult to follow even when I read back over it - and I knew what I was trying to say!! Hopefully this revision at least a little more understandable and helpful.

Last edited by 20Tigers at Mar 21, 2011,
Thanks for your help,
To be honest I don't really have the level of knowledge to understand the details of what you're saying, but I am going to continue reading through my guitar books and look for the subjects you brought up
^ It's not nearly as daunting as it looks.

Basically chords can be altered and also borrowed from other keys etc. Doesn't make them sound bad.
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Thanks for your help,
To be honest I don't really have the level of knowledge to understand the details of what you're saying, but I am going to continue reading through my guitar books and look for the subjects you brought up
I rewrote the post. It was pretty tough to read before and too technical - there were words missing too which didn't help. Hopefully it's a little more accessible now, so please have another read and feel free to ask questions. If it's still too technical let me know. I would like to write so that anyone can understand regardless of experience (well as much as is possible).

If you don't get anything else out of it at least take this away with you: The point is the F♯ and F♮ sound odd and create a strong clash that is deliberate and rather disorientating. This emphasizes the lyrical message, which is about the insanity all around us finally making us crack and driving us mad.
Last edited by 20Tigers at Mar 21, 2011,
20T is right. I'll just add that there's a distinction between diatonic key, and the fact that you can use and move chords the way you like, and that the idea of a key expands to mean a tonal center, or where the progression resolves.

While it is important to learn and understand diatonic keys, it is just a starting point.

I don't like the adage, know the rules and then break them, because it implies that theory is a rule, and it isn't. What happens is your overall understanding of music will broaden, such as moving from diatonic harmony, and discovering tonal centrer, parallel chord building and the like.

It sounds like you have a ways to go, before you have the foundation to get all this, and sometimes the risk of asking a question, is you may find out the answer itself isnt something that you're foundationally prepared to understand. I see it all the time with those that are trying to be self taught.


Quote by 20Tigers
That G7 is actually a G7/D.
Yeah and the the E is an E/D. Actually, I see you addressed that too, indirectly.

And TS, 20T has it right. The point is that this doesn't fit the "rules" of diatonic harmony. These "chromatic" alterations are so named because they use "chromatics," which by definition are non-diatonic.

There are a lot of examples of chromatic alterations like this. The reason for most of them working is that they use a few tones that are "in key," but a few that are out of key, to give you that chromatic feel. In this case, the G7 uses that F natural to give you that false relation to the diatonic F#, which is in the D chord.

One example of a common substitution, particularly in jazz, is the tritone substitution. To preface this a bit, dominant seventh chords have a tritone between the 3 and b7. A tritone, when inverted, is still a tritone. It divides an octave evenly in two. So, based on that idea, there are two distinct dominant seventh chords that have the same tritone, with the b7 in place of the 3 in the other chord, and vice versa. The root of this substitution has a root a tritone away (on the b2 of the key) because of how the intervals line up. So I'll give you an example now, because this may have you completely lost.

Let's go with the key of D since we're already working with that. 2 sharps, D E F# G A B C#. Our dominant seventh chord (V7) is an A7, A C# E G. The tritone is between C# and G. So now we're going to take that G and make it the 3, and take the C# (which will have to be renamed as Db) and make it the b7. So taking a major third down from G, you have Eb, which is your root. Now, building an Eb7 chord, you have Eb G Bb Db. Notice how you have that G to Db tritone in there, and the root is on the b2 of the key? This is an example of a substitution, somewhat similar to the examples in Brain Damage.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
20T, I find your post much more at my level now.
I understand what you're saying about the F# and the F clashing.

food, I've reread your part about tritones a few times, but it's just something I can't comprehend right now, I'll have to read it again later.

thanks again, I appreciate all your help
Hey I'm glad to help a fellow Floyd fan

You might want to learn Is There Anybody Out There . I found it a great piece for fingerpicking and working on tightening up my timing when I started off. You might have that stuff down but it's such a lovely guitar piece it's worth learning just because it's so nice to play and to listen to.

You will notice it is in the key of Am and then switches to C major and back to Am. It also uses some "non diatonic notes" that sound perfectly at home in the key of Am. This time they are simply part of a chromatic bassline over a static Am chord and work to build great tension.

You will notice though that the bassline is not all chromatic it switches to diatonic movements as the bass heads down from the E to the A well, while above the E is chromatic.

Such a sweet song to play.
Quote by petermoosefat
food, I've reread your part about tritones a few times, but it's just something I can't comprehend right now, I'll have to read it again later.
Basically all you need to get out of it is that you can substitute chords by using chords with common tones. For example, D7 and Ab7 both have an F#/Gb and a C, so they can be substituted for each other.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Yeah food I see what you're saying.
20T, yeh man I know that song, I love floyd! I'll check out the tab