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Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun : harmonic analysis

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  • Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun : harmonic analysis

    hi everyone,
    I'm not sure I'm in the right section here (tell me if you think the Lesson Loft is a better place) but I'm desperately trying to analyze Black Hole Sun (and it's even harder when I'm trying to play it on my instrument as the song is slightly detuned on record) :

    verse : A / C / G / F#m / F / E / A / G / Bb
    chorus : F / E / A / G / Bb / F / E / Bb / E

    here is what I think (it's really muddled due to the fact that I have no idea what the key is) :
    the song starts in A which I see as a borrowed chord from A major in a song that starts in A dorian (or Em).
    the next three chords fit A dorian well. the voice leading from F#m to E is quite obvious but this Major chords / major chords / minor chord with bass going down a half step each time confuses me.
    E seems to be the dominant of A. the G was already there but does it go ? no idea.
    as for the Bb, hmm... bII ?

    if someone could help me clear this up, I would be very thankful







  • #2
    Originally posted by possopo View Post
    hi everyone,
    I'm not sure I'm in the right section here (tell me if you think the Lesson Loft is a better place) but I'm desperately trying to analyze Black Hole Sun (and it's even harder when I'm trying to play it on my instrument as the song is slightly detuned on record) :

    verse : A / C / G / F#m / F / E / A / G / Bb
    chorus : F / E / A / G / Bb / F / E / Bb / E

    here is what I think (it's really muddled due to the fact that I have no idea what the key is) :
    the song starts in A which I see as a borrowed chord from A major in a song that starts in A dorian (or Em).
    the next three chords fit A dorian well. the voice leading from F#m to E is quite obvious but this Major chords / major chords / minor chord with bass going down a half step each time confuses me.
    E seems to be the dominant of A. the G was already there but does it go ? no idea.
    as for the Bb, hmm... bII ?

    if someone could help me clear this up, I would be very thankful





    Hi, possopo -- it's probably a bit more suited to the lesson loft -- here we (or some of us, I'm no theory maven) are probably more likely to argue about whether or not a given harmonic choice is a good one -- but a lot of songwriters put in time deconstructing their favorite songs as a learning exercise, so you might see if anyone responds here.

    (I think I have that Soundgarden album, myself, but I'm not at all sure where it is, and, again, not really that good at sussing out complex chord movements in finished works. I can usually find something that sorta works, but over and over I've come back to other's songs I previously worked out the chords for in such fashion and listened again and said to myself, What the hell was I thinking?)

    If you do post over in the Lesson Loft, do make a brief note that you'd posted over here, too, as identical 'cross-posts' have traditionally been frowned on by many (back in the innocent, direct-dial-up online bulletin-board days of the 1980s, cross posting was the original online 'spam' -- but back then it was usually just compulsive early computer users, not relentless marketing bots. ) A little preventative explanation will likely ease any complaints anyone might have. (If any. It's kind of slow around here these days, so a bit more relaxed, we'd like to think.)


    In the meantime, maybe someone else here can help out...
    .

    music and social links | recent listening

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    • #3
      Seems like you're trying to analyze this with classical theory. I'll bite...
      If your chords are correct, this is basically in Am, but uses the Picardy Third throughout. Bb would be a Neapolitan 6th (a common chord), esp if it resolved to the i and then the V, which it does: in this context F and Am are functionally the same chord. Similarly G = E. I'm pretty sure that F#m is D/F#, but if not it's functioning the same way, as a passing chord.
      Alternatively, you could say that the Bb - F is a digression into the Mixolydian of the relative major (C)...not really classical though.
      But of course this is rock, so I wouldn't sweat it too much.
      Last edited by mbfrancis; 01-05-2016, 04:10 PM.

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      • #4
        I'm not trying to analyze the song for the sake of analyzing the song (or getting a headache). the idea is to learn certain patterns that I would eventually memorize and recognize when I hear them. and the idea behind this idea is to improve my compositional skills.
        so far so good, it seems to work.

        and thanks for the help, it's extremely valuable !

        Last edited by possopo; 01-05-2016, 07:21 PM.

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        • #5
          This a great song. It takes borrowed chords from parallel minor

          The progression goes like this (one semitone lower):
          A - C6 (A/C ) - G - Gbm7 - F - E
          I - bIII - bVII - vi - bvi - V


          A - G - Bb6
          I bVII bII

          The bIII, bVII and bVII chords are borrowed from parallel minor. So, this is a descending progression, with borrowed chords between the chords of the major scale, to produce a descending bass.

          The chorus goes:
          F - E -A - G - C6
          bVI - V - I - bVII - bIII

          F - E - D7 -C6 - E7
          bVI - V - IV - bIII - V

          The D7 and E7 chords are IV and V, from A melodic minor.

          Nothing easy for a rock song!
          Last edited by Zaidbassist; 06-25-2017, 08:04 PM.

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