“NYC” transcription + analysis

NYC pic

Hello there! While I await my copy of El Pintor, I thought I’d finish up my analysis of “NYC”, originally requested by Nathaniel (click on the image above to access the full transcription).

Strikingly, the song consists of only two chords, F major (sometimes FM7) and C major, which in Western music theory is the classic movement between I, aka the “tonic” (the first chord of the scale, in this case F major), and V, aka the “dominant” (the fifth chord of the scale). The movement between these two chords has typically been characterized as extremely stable, the leading-tone (E) of the V chord (C-E-G) pulling you right back to the tonic (F). In and of itself, this chord progression between F and C contains no uncertainty, it’s almost somnambulistic.

That’s where Sam comes in. I am a huge fan of Sam’s drumming, and this bit of work just makes me so happy. Against the regular strumming of the guitars he creates significant rhythmic tension by emphasizing the offbeats. Instead of a regular 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and we get 1-AND-rest-and-THREE-rest-4-AND. In addition to this, as the song builds he creates a beautiful, full sonority out of all the different parts of his kit, creating this rush of sound that for me signifies New York City in this song.

I imagine Paul riding the subway home from a show or a party and then trudging down the sidewalk/pavement very late at night, exhausted and disappointed that he’s spending the night alone, all the while the unpredictable and constant noise of the city that never sleeps enveloping him. I hear the “turn on the bright lights” part of his vocals as some late-night epiphany in which he realizes he needs to take control of his destiny, outlining an A minor chord to slightly push against the overriding F major tonality.

Next up: El Pintor, then getting to the requests I’ve received for Roland, Stella, and C’mere!


~ by megwilhoite on September 7, 2014.

2 Responses to ““NYC” transcription + analysis”

  1. I appreciate the transcription. I never knew exactly which notes they were playing in the opening bars. I’m looking forward to you writing about Stella, but I’m surprised you haven’t written about their most acclaimed song, Obstacle 1. There is a lot of interesting stuff happening in the bridge and coda that you could bring light to.

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