Thinking about the genius of the tune "Promises Promises"

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igtmfo33
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:52 pm

Thinking about the genius of the tune "Promises Promises"

Postby igtmfo33 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:26 pm

Greetings all I haven't posted here or even looked in for so long .. and I see posts aren't so frequent as they used to be ..

Hearing the above tune on radio other day a rarity ..

Burt always said time changes weren't a problem, if the were natural from the melody.

If time changes are exciting to listen to - well this is the song. .. And the same with the key-center-changes exciting also. So natural all of it.

Dave Brubeck group with Paul Desmond had kind of the same flair - if the "head" of the song was better in 5/4, 7/4 or whatever, so much the better. Makes the song more memorable I think. But Promises Promises has these great changes ..

The change on "Now I can look at myself and be proud" - Burt drops it down a full step when Dionne says "Now" - that change - unexpectedly - it isn't the subdominant but he drops it back a full step - so that he get back to the key center and it all works out at the end - daring but it sounds good. It sounds better than even if he had kept it at the subdominant for the above lyric and had to raise the key up one.

Then on the so-called "chorus" Dionne singing all these crazy time changes - the fantastic "end" of it "joy and hope and love" .. the climax is 3 whole steps above the key center (say - key in C just a few moments before - the climax/denoument/release is in key of E .. then a kind of "natural" release back to "C" for the next verse .. I hope I got this right ..

Fantastic.

Of course melody in pop music is .. well pretty much gone.

I think that the great songwriters that loved melody practically willed the public to love it also. Record companies, Broadway producers heard it too.

But now neither the above, nor the public, are listening to it, and haven't for a pretty long time.

nowmedical
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Re: Thinking about the genius of the tune "Promises Promises"

Postby nowmedical » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:25 pm

Great post, great analysis. But I doubt Burt wrote it thinking of sub-dominants and the like - he just did it as it came.


ron hertel
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Re: Thinking about the genius of the tune "Promises Promises"

Postby ron hertel » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:43 pm

... Going back to when I first heard Dionne's recording and Album "Promises Promises" in 1967 - this song remains a favorite BB/HD composition of mine. Although the definitive version belongs to Dionne - I do enjoy the cast recording performances within the play. .... For many years Warwick's performance of the song in concert was in many ways the highlight of her show.

Jan R.
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Re: Thinking about the genius of the tune "Promises Promises"

Postby Jan R. » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:34 pm

nowmedical wrote: ... I doubt Burt wrote it thinking of sub-dominants and the like - he just did it as it came.


I'm not so sure about this. For sure he doesn't say: "Okay, just for fun let's have a little plagal cadence here". But this guy knows his stuff extremely well, and some of his compositorial problem solvings are simply too elegant to be "just as it came" -- for my taste at least. In fact, especially when something sounds (or reads) very "easy" or "spontaneous", as if pulled out of the hat, then be sure there's work behind it.
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