[Smt-talk] equal division of the octave in pop songs

John Cuciurean jcuciure at uwo.ca
Sun Aug 29 09:07:02 PDT 2010


For an obscure pop-music illustration of dividing the octave into 6 
equal whole tones check out the D2 sequence in the song "Diamonds 
Diamonds" by Max Webster from their album "High Class in Borrowed Shoes" 
(1977).  (The audio can be found on YouTube: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4e2WiM_WfE) Max Webster, a Canadian prog 
rock band from the late 70s-early 80s, had a minor hit with this song in 
Canada when it was released, but the band's music generally received 
very little airplay in most US radio markets (except for Buffalo and 
Detroit FM rock stations).

The entire song is 3:17 min long. The verses are based on the 12-bar 
blues progression with each successive verse stated a a step higher than 
the previous one (V1: B, V2: C, instrumental-V3:D, V4: E). This alone 
does not contribute to the current equal division discussion, but what 
happens next does. Perhaps in an effort to achieve tonal closure(??), 
the music at the end of V4 goes from a I chord in E to a V chord (B+) at 
which point a sequential pattern is initiated that moves by strictly 
descending WTs through the following harmonies: B-A-G-F-D#-C#-B. The 
sequence occurs around 2:40-2:54.  When the sequence concludes the 
previous tonal center of E+ seems abandoned (at least to my ears) and 
the song abruptly ends with a decorated cadential progression (albeit, 
not a PAC) back in B+, the original home key from the opening of the song.

Hope this is useful.

All the best,

John Cuciurean
University of Western Ontario
jcuciure at uwo.ca

On 27/08/2010 7:25 PM, arne0102 at umn.edu wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> I'm looking for examples of popular songs (any genre) that employ 
> equal division of the octave.
> Thanks,
> Mark Arneson
> University of Minnesota
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