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What a great musical journey! A terrific drive through the countryside of down-to-earth humour. Scenery, laughs and smiles all the way. And a toe-tapping beat to keep the feet actively involved as well. All wrapped up in a first class arrangement, top notch performance and outstanding production. Excellent stuff!

After reading Herb's comment, “That's a true country song.... clever lyrical crafting, with more truth than should be the case”, I nodded my head in agreement. He summed up the lyrics well.

When I first saw the song's title in the forum, I sat looking at it and thinking about it for around 15 minutes. It's one of the most intriguing titles I've ever seen. I was fascinated and I found myself wondering how anyone could use such a title in a song. What theme links a 'pawnshop' to 'that woman'? While vivid images appeared when I thought about either 'pawnshop' or 'that woman', I could not, for the life of me, think of a link between the two that had sufficient potential to create a whole song lyric. I'm envious of your ability to find a song in the most unusual and unexpected places.

I can't remember which song it was but, a while back, I recall commenting on how you used the rhyme scheme found in limericks to complement the emotional journey of a serious song. In “Pawnshop”, you've chosen a different path. You've taken the rhyme technique of a limerick (AABBA) and used it to enhance the effect of comedy.

i spend a lot of time down at a-1 pawn
since my wife used my clothes to decorate the lawn
i may be only guessin'
but i got the firm impression
she wanted to see me gone

While it's a little different in that the meter of the first two lines scans as one foot longer than those found in the traditional limericks, the last three phrases parallel the limerick's design.

  • After I heard you sing the above sequence of phrases, I burst out laughing. It wasn't until later when I was looking through the lyrics that I saw the format and realised how you made me laugh out loud. That was a very clever touch. If it's possible to be a 'Le Cordon Bleu' songwriter, you are definitely one.

Like with your song's title, I was also intrigued by the song's form. It's a very effective variation of AAA. The song travels along as ABABAB where the B-section is lyrically different each time and tagged with a refrain. The third A-section is an instrumental section. In the greater scheme of song formats, it's possible to group A and B together and simply call the pair a single section. This means that the song is essentially three song-sections: thus my comparison to AAA. I have to say, your use of the ABABAB format gives quite a different feel from the standard form where the B-section of a song is the chorus. I like it.

Having the third A-section as an instrumental is a terrific use of the 'Rule Of Two' that Steve Seskin introduced me to a few years ago. I've mentioned this a couple of times before in other songs. Using standard 'Applied Rule-Of-Two 101', after you've gone through the AB sequence twice, you go somewhere different before coming back to the third B section. It worked for me!

  • For those who read this and are not familiar with what Seskin means, his theory is that decades of popular songs and centuries of classical music have demonstrated that if one wants to achieve musical contrast without creating boredom for the listener, it's necessary to play a sequence and then to repeat it once. This establishes a feeling of familiarity. Then, after the familiar has been created, the power of contrast kicks in when the music goes somewhere different. Following the contrasting section, the music then returns to the familiar and the familiar section is more strongly emphasised because of the contrasting section. Seskin says that listeners generally feel a sense of satisfaction from this structure.
  • If anyone is interested in finding out more about the 'Rule Of Two', here's Mozart to help explain what I mean.

This is the music performance...

...and this is some public domain sheet music that I've annotated. Simply left-click on the link and the pdf should open in a web page.

By hovering the mouse pointer over the comment boxes (#1) in the pdf, what I've written (#2) becomes visible.

In relation to the first page of music only, if I put the various sections of Rondo Alla Turca into letters, I get the layout pattern...

A A B A' B A' C

(where A' = A-section with slight variation)

That is, by the end of page 1 of the music...

First the A-section is repeated twice (establishing familiarity); then the music moves into a B-section (contrast). The B-section then leads back to the A-section (return to the familiar) with a slight variation to accommodate an ending. This sequence of BA' is then repeated again and establishes the larger pattern of B+A' as the new familiar section. The playing then enters into a C-section (a new contrast).

More succinctly...

  • A-section twice
  • The B-section is heard as contrast (Rule Of Two)
  • The BA'-sections play twice
  • C-section starts and is heard as a new contrast (Rule Of Two)

This pattern is one of a number of ways that Steve Seskin's 'Rule Of Two' appears in music.

Out of interest, and if my analysis is correct, the full performance of Rondo Alla Turca maps the following sequence of musical sections.

A A B A' B A' C C D D E D' E D' C C

...change key...

A A B A' B A' C' C' Ending

Lastly, I liked the way that you ended each song section with a refrain that finished with an open, long vowel sound. The “-ay” sound felt comfortable. If my memory serves me correctly, I'm pretty sure that I've read somewhere that Oscar Hammerstein II (of Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Sound Of Music”, etc.) liked to end the lyric of his song sections on an open vowel wherever he could, too. Seems like you're in good company.

In an attempt to verify my above comment, I've just checked out the ultimate syllable of the songs in the "Sound Of Music". Out of 11 songs, 7 of them ended with open vowel sounds, 1 ended with an open vowel sound terminated with 'm' (i.e. "dream" where the 'm' can be musically sustained), and three songs ended with a hard consonant 'd'.

It seems as though my memory wasn't playing tricks on me this time around. That's a relief smile

  • Once again, thank you for letting me work my way through your songs. I really enjoy trying to apply what I've picked up from books and seminars. It's through these analyses that I learn such a lot. In so many ways, your works are a terrific resource for understanding the finer points of song craftsmanship.

All in all… an excellent creation, an excellent presentation and a brilliant production. It seems to me that you have definitely discovered how to output the quality of a professional studio. This really doesn't sound like BIAB at all.

All the best,