"Hey, Jude" Song Report

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6 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Words: 1119|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Song Report “Hey Jude” is a song by the band The Beatles and was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. It was first released in August 1968 under The Beatles label ‘Apple Records’. Hey, Jude runs for 8 mins and 10 secs. The Beatles choose here instead for an unusual binary form that uses a fully developed, song together with an extended, jam on a simple chord progression. It becomes clear from a detailed look and study of "Hey Jude" just how well the two parts of the song go so well with each other, and from what simple musical materials that are constructed.

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“Hey, Jude” is played in the key of F Major and in a time of 4/4. The genre of the song is Pop, Rock played in a ballad style. The song structure is not just your usual pop structure but instead is quite different in nature for its genre, as it seems to develop a large amount throughout the song starting off slow then ending in a full massive outro. The song relies more on the subtleness of texture than of the form as throughout the song the texture gets added too and builds up to the conclusion of the song.

Verse one as with all the verses follows a simple chord progression using chords I, V, V7, V7sus4 and IV in the key of F major which creates a very memorable verse setting the tone of the song and hinting at the pop and rock genre. The vocal doesn't really stop on too many unstable notes for too long during the verses, instead only passing on the unstable notes and then quickly going back to the original key. The first verse is very thin in its texture, using only a piano with a single vocal melody line that sets the tone for the song playing on the ballad style where the song starts very thin with its texture then really opens up as the song progresses. This single vocal line follows a very macro style structure as it doesn't really change or differ throughout the song until the outro. In verse two we hear the addition of a tambourine being played on and also an acoustic rhythm guitar which also starts to hint at the more pop side of the song and starts to increase the texture and thickness of the song. There is also backing vocals added in the second half of the verse in the form of simple “ahhhh’s” (TheBeatlesVEVO, 2015) again hinting at that more rock genre. It is the same as the first verse, The harmony is purely diatonic to F Major and the melody rises and falls in equal measure leaving the listener feeling at ease. This is broken at the end of this verse as there is one bar added. Harmonically to do this the final verse chord is turned into a V/IV allowing the chordal structure to smoothly transition from verse to bridge.

As a result of the verse having a bar added to the end, the first phase of both bridges have five bars thus almost copying the lead in from verse to bridge making the song stable again. Harmonically the start and the end of both bridges tonally are quite unstable. The bridge sees the introduction of a walking Bassline and drums with more focus on tapping cymbals again creating a more rock feel which engages the listener. Melodically the main vocal tends to fall throughout the most part of the bridge, barely rising until the major melody swell that leads to the next verse.

Verse three has the addition of backing vocals in thirds. There is also the introduction of a distant backing vocals as well. The distant vocal “so let it out and let it in” (TheBeatlesVEVO, 2015) leads into the lyrical ideas found in the next bridge. The tambourine in this verse is more frequent and obvious and is now played as semi-quavers which creates a feeling of the song becoming faster and having more texture which adds to the feeling of the pop genre. Bridge two mirrors bridge one harmonically and musically with an only slight change in lyrics and slightly more arranged lead vocals with more passing notes but still sticking to the diatonic Fmajor with the majority of the time keeping with the repetition of the song which draws listeners back into the piece. In verse four there are parts of gaining new notes and rhythm of the initial "Hey Jude" phrase, and there are harmonizing backing vocals sung in parallel thirds all the way through this verse which creates a much thicker sounding chorus and gives the song much more definition. There is also an incredible vocal flourish ("better, better, ...") (TheBeatlesVEVO, 2015) which leads to the jam section and outro. In the outro, the use of the flat-VII chord gives the jam session a modal, Mixolydian feel that contrasts the first half of the song.

The outro is a very long seventy-two bars long yet does not feel like it is, as the momentum and instrumentation through this section swells and leaves the listener engaged. Instruments are gradually added to this section creating a thickness to the sound. There is a doubling of the bass line which is layered over the course of multiple repetitions of the vocal line “Nah Nah Nah nah…”.These backing vocals at times work alongside the E flat chord to create a dissonant 9th. This phrase continues repetitively throughout the seventy-two bar outro. At repeat four you can hear the inclusion of strings, a couple of octaves above the bass you can hear trumpets, the trumpets enable a sense of impressive style to the outro and helps this section keep its momentum and interest. In the 8th repeat the violins rise and swell four octaves above the Bassline and the vocal ad lib becomes more frantic in nature and fills the listener with a sense of almost panic and urgency as the song fades out. This song relies heavily on large contrasts throughout the beginning half and during the second half, the song relies more on big tones and chords, layering of instruments and stacked harmonies both on the beat and off. The song, starting with the thin sounds of just a lone leading vocal, and simple piano chords, allows a gentle introduction to the ballad.

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Throughout the track slight variance in lyrical content and instrumentation gives the listener a sense of repetition and contrast at the same time and any melodic dissonance to be found there is always resolved. This allows the outro to have the full impact needed to leave the listener engaged as it swells to its conclusion.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

“Hey, Jude” song report. (2018, October 22). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
““Hey, Jude” song report.” GradesFixer, 22 Oct. 2018,
“Hey, Jude” song report. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
“Hey, Jude” song report [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 22 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from:
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