Musical and Lyrical Motifs on The Wall
The Wall was one of the first rock albums I ever owned, but I continue to be impressed by its cohesiveness on musical, lyrical, and thematic levels.  Whereas most albums only appear connected by the stylistic limitations of their respective creators, this album uniquely draws from a specific list of elements in order to produce a meaningful collage that a lot of fans (myself included) totally bought into.  This was only intensified by the album's graphics and the subsequent film with all its imagery, both live action and animated.



Musical Motifs
 
We Don't Need No Education.  Hum this little part to yourself.  You will find the phrase serves as:
  • a unifying melody for Another Brick parts 1, 2, and 3
  • the bass line for Hey You during the guitar solo
  • the melody on the solo of Hey You
  • the bass line in The Trial during the "Tear down the wall!" climax
G, D, Em.  This chord progression is presented in rapid succession in order to close off the end of a line.
  • Hey You 
    • ...bury the liii, iii, ight
    • ...as you can see
    • ...he could not break free
    • ...there's no hope at aaaa, aaaa, all)
  • Bring the Boys Back Home ("Don't leave the children on their own")
  • Comfortably Numb (throughout entire progression Roger sings over, although the "D" chord is only implied by a passing F# on the bass.  However, a full "D" will work here just fine.
Delay Rhythm.  Perhaps more than on any track since "One of these Days," Gilmour and company used their delay pedal(s) to create a rhythm track build musically around the echo effect.  Whereas most musicians set their delay times somewhat intuitively, David Gilmour has the repeats fall in a syncopated rhythm that was used throughout the album, most prominently on:
  • Another Brick part 1 
  • Happiest Days Of Our Lives
  • Another Brick part 3
  • Run Like Hell

Lyrical Motifs
Song structure: Another Brick

While they are quite different musically (e.g., ambient vs. disco vs. rock beats), each of the three versions of "Another Brick in the Wall" shares the same lyrical structure.  The exception is that Part 2 repeats the entire sequence without modification.  This was only as an afterthought, as producer Bob Ezrin concocted the idea of having the kids sing Part 2 and Roger went nuts for it once he heard it.


References to Worms:
 
Hey You
  • ...And the worms ate into his brain.
Waiting for the Worms
  • Waiting for the worms to come.
  • Waiting to follow the worms.
  • Etc.
The Trial
  • Just five minutes, Worm, your honor, him and me... alone.
  • Worm, your honor, let me take him home.

References to Hammers:
 
Run Like Hell
  • ...And the hammers batter down the door
The Trial
  • SCHOOLMASTER: ...Let me hammer him today
  • "Ham-mers" (chanted by crowd)

References to Parents:
 
When The Tigers Broke Free 
  • And kind old King George sent Mother a note when he heard that Father was gone
The Thin Ice
  • Momma loves her baby,
  • And Daddy loves you too.
Another Brick In the wall (part 1)
  • Daddy's flown across the ocean... 
  • Daddy what d'ya leave behind for me?
Mother
  • The entire song, duh.
Run Like Hell
  • They're gonna send you back to Mother in a cardboard box.
The Trial
  • Come to Mother baby let me hold you in my arms.
  • The way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother.

References to the Wall:
 
Another Brick parts 1, 2, and 3
  • Chorus: All in all... brick(s) in the wall.
Mother 
  • Of course Mama's gonna help build the wall.
  • (obliquely) Mother, did it need to be so high?
Empty Spaces 
  • How shall I complete the wall?
Another Brick In the Wall part 3 (aside from the chorus)
  • I have seen the writing on the wall.
Hey You 
  • ...with your ear against the wall.
  • The wall was too high as you can see.
  • ...out there beyond the wall.
In the Flesh!
  • Get 'em up against the wall!
Waiting for the Worms 
  • Sitting in a bunker here behind my wall.
  • In perfect isolation here behind my wall.
The Trial
  • There must have been a door there in the wall...
  • "Tear down the wall!"
Outside the Wall
  • ...Walk up and down outside the wall.
  • ...banging your heart against some mad buggers Wall.


Revisited Musical Motifs in The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

Collectively, The Wall, The Final Cut, and The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking form something of a loose trilogy with connections between their histories of their creation.  Indeed, originally Roger simultaneously presented his demos for The Wall and Pros and Cons to the band.  He proposed that he would do one with the group and the other as a solo project.  We all know the outcome of that decision.

The entanglement continues here as, when the movie of The Wall was completed, portions of a verse that was to appear on Pros and Cons is sung on-screen by Bob Geldof before beginning his rendition of "Stop."

Finally, the album The Final Cut was originally slated to be a collection of dressed up outtakes and previously unfinished material from The Wall.

As is happened, many of the musical elements above and some not yet addressed were recycled into each subsequent album.  To highlight a few:

The Final Cut


Pros and Cons


Keys

I usually don't make much out of which keys songs are in unless it requires alternate tunings (e.g., dropping a half-step, etc.), but Rog exhibits an odd trend on these three albums.

The Wall
This album is fairly evenly divided across most of the typical "rock guitar" key, except that we see a lot of "F" for some reason.  Here's the talley:
 
Key G C F D A Eb
# Tracks 10 5 5 4 2 1

Actually, only half of "One of My Turns" is in Eb. Both versions of "In the Flesh" were in A, but I counted each.  However, I counted "When the Tigers Broken Free" (C) as one piece, not two.

Final Cut
 
Key G F D
# Tracks 7 4 1

Pros and Cons
Basically, the whole album is in "C" except for "Sexual Revolution" and "Go Fishing."
 
Key C G
# Tracks 10 2

What does this mean?  Who knows?  However, I think it's strange that Rog would gravitate toward using the same key over and over, even if he's working with similar phrases and progressions.  As a composer, wouldn't you at least want to transpose a few tracks, just to sound a little different?


Any other bits to share about these albums?  Do write.
Copyright 2005-2007 theoreticAle[x].

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