Radiohead: Pyramid Song - Analysis
‘Pyramid Song’, written by Thom Yorke with contributions from Jonny Greenwood and Philip Selway, is one of Radiohead's most enduringly popular songs. In this essay, I analyse the harmony, rhythm and form of the song and suggest that the hypnotic feeling you get whilst listening to it comes about as a result of the music’s complex substructure. A lot of the content and inspiration for this essay comes from Brad Osborn's fantastic book 'Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead'. If you're interesting in diving into the complex theory behind Radiohead's songs, then I thoroughly recommend you purchase this book (link below).
EXPLANATION OF MOTIF NAMES
- Intro: First motif to be heard in the song
- Pyramid: Most used motif in the song
- Radix: When the notes of the major/minor thirds in each the chords of this motif are plotted against time (number of beats), the sequence looks like a square root sign (√), called a 'Radix' (Radix comes from the Latin for 'root')
- BACH: The major/minor thirds in the chords in this motif are, in order, A♮, G#, B, A#. If you transpose this sequence up a semitone (half-step), you get B♭, A, C, B♮. This is known as the 'BACH' motif - in German musical nomenclature, 'B' signifies a B♭ and 'H' signifies a B♮.
Radiohead - Pyramid Song [Music Video]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M_Gg1xAHE4
Everything In Its Right Place: A Conversation with Brad Osborn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbg4-IEdw04&t=2010s
Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead (Brad Osborn) - https://global.oup.com/academic/product/everything-in-its-right-place-9780190629236?cc=us&lang=en&
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