03.01.2010

“Rainy Day,” Prospekt’s March, Coldplay

Posted by AJ Harbison at 5:37 pm

The second coolest song on Prospekt’s March (at least in my opinion) is “Rainy Day,” track four. It begins with a weird piano sample for a few moments before beginning the song proper. The verse is backed by electronics, a lead electric guitar and an electric guitar with delay (the effect that makes each chord repeat multiple times even though the guitarist only plays it once).

But the reason the song is one of the coolest on the album, as with “Glass of Water,” is the chorus. The chorus of “Rainy Day” is accompanied entirely by strings. No guitar, no drums, no bass. All strings. And to my surprise when I first heard it, it sounds terrific and it works. The basses provide a driving rhythm which ensures that the song doesn’t lose energy or momentum from losing the other instruments and the drums. And the arrangement of the strings is very well done: the basses have the rhythm, there’s an independently moving cello line in the low mid range, and the violins and violas have held notes in the mid and high ranges. The other thing that makes the strings so cool is the sick high cello riff in the middle of the chorus (listen for it, starting with a flattened third, right after the words “slow down”). The range of the line (high for a cello) gives it a great deal of tension on the instrument, which, along with the flattened third, makes it jump out of the texture and bring attention to how rocking it is.

The chord progression in the chorus is VII – IV – I; the song is in E-flat, which means the chord progression is D-flat – A-flat – E-flat. This is a relatively common progression in pop music, and I’ve heard it zillions of times. But I think that “Rainy Day” is the most musically satisfying use of the VII – IV – I progression I’ve ever heard. And the accompaniment is all strings. Brilliant.

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