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Oasis: Dont Look Back in Anger

Context:
Britpop (British Pop) arrived in the 1980s and reacted against electronic Hard Rock, Dance
music and the distorted, angry sounds of American grunge. British sound that recreated that of
the 60s and 70s styles (especially that of The Beatles and The Kinks). Featured lyrical and
tuneful vocal melodies and was guitar-led.
Britpop songs often had additional strings, acoustic guitar, organ and/or tambourine.
Oasis have a traditional five-man line-up of vocals, electric lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass
guitar and drum kit.
Intro of the song is made up of simple quaver chords on the piano and pair of semiquavers,
inspired by John Lennons song Imagine.
Instrumentation:
Guitar-based Beatles sound from the 1960s, with additional piano and some electronic backing.
Piano plays simple root position quaver chords in its solo in the Introduction.
Regular four bar phrases and simple root position chords.
Lead Guitar has occasional licks (small motif often between vocal phrases), e.g. in the PreChorus, as well as in the build up to the Chorus itself. Also has a long improvised solo over the
Pre-Chorus chords before the final Chorus, where it reaches at top A in bar 42. Light distortion is
used.
Occasional use of pitch-bend, e.g. last bar of Pre-Chorus (bar 24).
Tambourine played from half way through the Pre-Chorus and throughout the Chorus.
Bass Guitar part has an unusually low tessitura; its played almost entirely on the bottom two
strings (E and A).
String part recorded on a Mellotron (early synthesiser from the 1960s that plays recordings of
instrumental sounds on tape).
Drum part has occasional fills. Drum-break at the end of the guitar solo.
Vocal Style:

Noel Gallagher sings with a high tessitura, going up to a top A on a few occasions. The chorus
begins memorably on a top G (So Sally can wait).
Mainly syllabic (one note per syllable), with occasional short melismas at the ends of phrases
e.g. on find near the beginning.
Music is double-tracked (two recordings of the same solo voice superimposed to produce a fuller
sound).

Texture:

Mainly melody dominated homophony, with the vocal melody accompanied by guitar and
keyboard chords and a simple bass line.
Some variety provided by the guitar licks, which often continue through parts of the vocal
phrases (e.g. bar 10).
Electric Guitar sometimes creates heterophony (simultaneous variation of a melody) with the
vocals.
Song has up to and including 8-part textures (formed of combinations of Vocal, Lead Guitar,
Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Strings, Piano, Bass, Drums and Percussion).

Tonality:

In C major, emphasised by root position chords at the beginning and elsewhere. No modulations.
Verses and choruses are almost completely diatonic in the key (they contain no notes outside
the scale, apart from the G# in the E major chord).
Other chromatic notes are contained in the substitution chords of Fm7 (bar 13) and also the G#
diminished chord (bar 20). Both alterations are in the Pre-Chorus.
Much of the music is pentatonic (G-A-C-D-E), including the whole of the verse melodies.

Structure:

Two verses and four choruses, as well as vocal and instrumental pre-choruses, an intro and an
outro (Coda).
Strophic
Intro

Bars 1-4

Instrumental influenced by
Imagine by John Lennon

Verse 1

Bars 5-13

Slip inside the eye of your


mind

Pre-Chorus

Bars 13-25

So I start a revolution Ends


with two bars of a Dominant
chord.

Chorus

Bars 25-32

And so Sally can wait

Instrumental

Bars 32-35

Contains quote of five chords


from the ground bass of
Pachelbels Canon in D.
(C, G, Am, E, F)

Verse 2

Bars 5-13

Take me to the place where you


go

Pre-Chorus

Bars 14-25

So I start a revolution

Chorus

Bars 25-32

And so Sally can wait

Pre-Chorus

Bars 32-45

Guitar solo based around same


chords of the verse.

Chorus

Bars 45-53

And so Sally can wait

Chorus

Bars 53-62

Extended by a bar with a slower


tempo introduced at bar 58.

Outro

Bars 62-65

Slower version of the four chords


from the verse, with alterations:
G7 instead of G and G-sharp
diminished as penultimate
chord.

Harmony:

Simple root position chords


Tonic and subdominant chords (I and IV) alternate with a slow harmonic rhythm (one chord per
bar) in the intro.
Chord scheme of the verse begins as in Pachelbels Canon in D, but later changes with the
inclusion of E major, instead of E minor (therefore chord V of vi in C major).
Chords arranged in 4 bar groups. In the verses the harmonic rhythm speeds up further at the
end of the 4 bars to one chord per beat (Am-G bar 12).
Chromatic chords include the substitution chord of Fm7 (instead of F) and G# diminished chord,
both in the Pre-Chorus.
Pre-Chorus ends with an extended dominant chord (over two bars) to lead into the Chorus after
the double bar.
Perfect cadence at the end of Chorus
Verse based on: I, V, vi, III, IV, V, I, vi, V.

Melody:

Entire verse melody is pentatonic (G-A-C-D-E). Narrow range of a 6 th, from G to E.


Chorus melody begins with the hook, and is still diatonic in C. It adds a 6 th note (F) and so
becomes a hexatonic scale.
Occasional blue notes e.g. E-flat on the word Summertime in the Pre-Chorus (and in the Guitar
solo).
Chorus begins with a distinctive upward octave leap, with remaining notes having a stepwise
motion.
Some use of melodic repetition, e.g. at the words Dont look back in anger in the Coda.
Falling contour gives melancholic feel.
Total vocal range of a 9th.
Guitar solo uses C Pentatonic scale.

Rhythm and Metre:

Continuous straight quavers in the piano introduction are a distinctive feature of the song, as is
the pair of semiquavers in bar 2 (both features derived from Lennons Imagine).
Drums have a continuous 8 beat rhythm from the beginning of the verse.
Bass drum plays on beats 1 and 3, with snare to emphasise the backbeats (2 and 4).
Tambourine has continuous semiquavers, starting halfway through Pre-Chorus.
Syncopation is most pronounced in vocal line e.g. bars 5-7. Less syncopation in the chorus.
Drum fills include sextuplets just before 3rd Chorus at bar 44.
Common time.
Longest notes in melody are in the first bar of the Chorus; used to emphasise words at that
point.
Slows down in last 8 bars.

Triplets and cross-rhythms used in guitar solo and also in the drum fills.