Chuck Berry

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Chuck Berry
"School Days"

One song that personifies the raucous, feel good party vibe of the fifties would be Chuck Berry's "School Days" which was released in 1957. He truly made a hit with rebellious teenagers with a song about the occurrences of a school day and all of the trials and tribulations that go along with it. Chuck was also known as one of the most influential blues guitarists of his time.

In this particular Chuck Berry song there are 4 different instruments present; guitar, bass, drums, and piano. The drums and bass come together to form a solid rhythm section with an apparent shuffle rhythm. The drummer may be adding some syncopation to the rhythm because it sounds as if the he may be playing triplets on the high hat. The piano is also adding to the rhythm section but at times throws in some licks. The guitar is doing several things throughout to the song. Berry uses a call and response technique. While he sings, there is no guitar present, but then answers with riffs and licks full of pitch bending staying inside the pentatonic scale, adding some "blue" notes here and there. During the guitar solo the piano becomes a little busier and is throwing in some licks to accompany Berry's playing.

As far as timekeeping, this song stays within its 4/4 time and is 12 bar blues. This is a twelve-measure idea that starts on the chord based around the first scale degree, or the tonic. It then switches to the IV chord in the fifth measure for two bars then goes back to I. It then switches to the dominant chord (V) then back to IV, and then finally resolves to the I chord for the final two measures. One obvious change is the stop time that happens every 12 bars, well technically 11. Berry uses up one bar with the beginning of his verse and the music comes in on the 2nd bar. There are also some short stop time patterns present in the last 20 seconds of the song to accentuate Berry's vocals. The melody is carried by the vocals and in the...
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