Saturday, October 17

This Love – Maroon 5 – Saturday Quickie

This Love* – Maroon 5 – Saturday Quickie

*Be careful, this video unfortunately has some suggestive content.

Since Maroon 5’s “This Love” won out over Sting’s “Shape of My Heart” I think I’ll focus on what I’ve always wanted to know about this song…that groovy piano chord progression.

Here’s what I figured out…

(Due to space, I’m only showing the main chords patterns. Transitioning between sections they usually play some variation of G7b9):

Each chord represents two beats, so two chords equal one measure

Cm… Cm…



In yesterday’s blog, I talked about harmonic rhythm, and what a great tool it is to create contrast between your main sections (the verses against the choruses). This Love is another great example of using harmonic rhythm to do just that. Here’s a reminder: Harmonic rhythm is how many beats you play a chord until it changes. The most common harmonic rhythms are…

Two different chords in every measure (every two beats there is a new chord)
A different chord EVERY measure (every four beats there is a new chord)
A different chord every TWO measures (every eight beats…)
A different chord every FOUR measures (every 16 beats…)

There are, of course, many, many variations and combination beyond those four, but they are a good starting point.

After the first listen I realized that the verse use a different chord every four beats, while the chorus uses a new chord every two beats.

This is great contrast…that is why the chorus feels like it kicks into gear and blows forward with momentum. When the chorus is over, the song settles back into the original groove…which feels laid back. This altering of harmonic rhythm keeps both sections fresh. The bridge uses the same harmonic rhythm as the verses, so you get this see-saw effect throughout the entire song…

Laid back…jump forward…laid back…jump forward…laid back…jump forward

…it’s a great way to keep interest up during the entire song.

I also thought it was cool that the verse not only starts on the V of the song (the G chord), but it starts on an inversion of the G chord…the bass is playing a B (which is the 3rd of a G chord) instead of playing a G root. This creates tension immediately in the song. The song STARTS tense. The Im chord (the Cm chord) is put in a weak position, which feels unresolved until we finally get the Im chord on beat 1 of the chorus. This is a HUGE lesson…are you paying attention? Putting the I chord (whether minor or major) on a weak position creates a little unresolved harmonic chaos.

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Another strong point about this song is its rhyme scheme. First, each of the verses have the same rhyme scheme (which is really good!), secondly, the major sections all have DIFFERENT rhyme schemes [translation: Verse = aaxx, Chorus = abab; Bridge: xaxa). This keeps the sections from being boring. Here’s the break down. Since both verses do the same thing I’ll just show you one verse…

Verse Rhyme Scheme: aaxx – (the “x” indicates a line that doesn’t rhyme
I was so high I did not recognize the fire burning in her eyes
The chaos that controlled my mind
Whispered goodbye, and she got on a plane, never to return again
But always in my heart

…this section is all about the internal rhyme. Notice the first two lines have three internal rhymes…recognize/eyes/mind. The last two lines have two internal rhymes…plane/again. (Line 3 also connects back to the previous lines with “goodbye”).

I find it interesting that they did not rhyme lines 3 and 4. [Then again, this song made a bazillion dollars. What do I know?]

The chorus rhyme scheme is pretty standard….

Chorus Rhyme Scheme: abab
This love has taken its toll on me
She said goodbye too many times before
And her heart is breaking in front of me
I have no choice cause I won
t say goodbye anymore

Notice the hook/title only happens in the opening line. This would be considered a T--- chorus form.

T = Title
- = Swing line (a line that doesn’t have the title)

Bridge Rhyme Scheme: xxaa
Ill fix these broken things, repair your broken wings
And make sure everythings alright
My pressure on her hips, sinking my fingertips into every inch of you
‘Cause I know thats what you want me to do

…notice the internal rhymes…things/wings, hips/fingertips/inch. Very cool.

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The melody of the verse and chorus stay out of each other’s hair. Verse melody is lower, chorus melody is higher. The verse is more linear, meaning the notes tend to stay the same for longer periods, staying on chord tones being played by the band. The chorus melody is more chordal, mostly built around the notes of a Cm chord. This is another area where the verse and chorus contrast each other!

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What can we learn from this song?

Musically, the main sections contrast each other very well…in rhyme scheme, harmonic rhythm, and melody. This gives each section its own personality.

Whew…that was supposed to be short. What was I thinking?

Okay…stop reading and go write something awesome. Remember, these things aren’t rules, they are tools you can try if you write yourself into a similar situation!



Advanced concepts for my students: Do you guys see the prosody in the verses. The singer, in the lyrics, talks about the chaos he feels. Musically he creates chaos, by not having the verses rhyme, by putting the Im chord in a very weak position, by starting on an inversion of the V chord, using a minor 7 flat 5 chord, etc…all those elements mess with the balance of the section. We don’t get any sense of resolution until when? When he sings the hook…”this love”! BAM! This Love is sung on what? The Im chord…the most stable chord of the entire song. The tonic! Pretty brilliant eh?!  However, the chorus, in the last line, descends back to the chaos of the signature harmonic hook piano progression! This singer gets no relief!

1 comment:

Heather said...

Shane! Thanks so much for doing these modern songs. The classics are important and valuable but sometimes in class I would want to know how it works in newer songs and this blog is the answer. :)