Song can be played as:

Main Riff: F#m(F#5) A B

Bridge: E Riff E C#7

Chorus: D A E F#7, D A E C#7 -> Main Riff Again

I am struggling on harmonic functions. I am not sure whether the song is in Aeolian or Dorian Mode, so I wondered how the song looks in both A and D key and transcribed (and referred from now on as in A minor) in order to easily spot if its minor or dorian

Am CD, G Riff GE7, -> F C G (Am)E7

Dm F G, C Riff CA7, ->BbF C (Dm)A7

First thing I notice is verse arpeggio is composed by notes A C E G D = Am7add11/G which leads to an ambigüity between Aminor(Ddorian) and Adorian(Dmixo) (indeed, it could be played as a Ddorian=Aminor D7sus2(add6)/G)

The same goes for the voice, it hits all "pentatonic" notes so we really don't know if he is singing in Aminor or Adorian, until he hits "BUT BEFORE TOMORROW LINE", where he is hitting a G# over the E7 chord, which is out both keys ironically, leading to a b3,b6 (Hm) if we are in aeolian and just a b3 if we are in dorian. This is exactly what it shocks me. It would have more sense to consider this E7 chord as the classic temporary move to the Harmonic Minor, but then if we consider the piece in minor, the D chord at the end of the phrase must be some modal interchange or V-of-V, but it does not sound like going out the scale.

Could somebody shed some light? Thanks!

By the way chorus is then in Cmajor (Flydian) on my am trasposition, it could be a clue.

EDIT: I think the key question is wondering what is occuring when C#7 sounds (E7 in the key of A, an A7 in the key of D)

EDIT 2: I realized is pretty close to some harmonic functions of the House of the Raising Sun, this could help: http://www.guitar-music-theory.com/bbpress/topic.php?id=59

  • 2
    Sooo...what are you asking? Also, try to rephrase your query so that it's more broad than pertaining to a single song. – jjmusicnotes Jul 14 '13 at 17:51
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    You seem to be assuming that there was a specific form of music theory strictly adhered to during the composition of this song. Unlikely. – Matthew Read Jul 14 '13 at 21:31
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    You could ask a Gallagher brother... and they wouldn't know. – slim Jul 15 '13 at 12:51
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    I don't think it's fair to attack this question based on it's scope, or to put it down as a poor song. It was a massive hit in Britain regardless of your opinion on Oasis, and an explanation of how it was likely made would be great information for the site. I'll answer fully once I've had a play through, but on the modulation it's worth exploring Modulation using the circle of 5ths. – Alexander Troup Jul 15 '13 at 16:24
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    Deriding the poster's taste in music is uncalled for. – Paul Legato Jul 15 '14 at 20:15

First off, let's examine what chords are used in this song. There are many versions of the transcription of this song, most do not have the F#7 and instead have just a F#m which after listening to the song to confirm seems right:

F#m A B E D C#7 

All the chord besides the B,which can be viewed as borrowed from the parallel major key of F# major, can be found in the key of F# minor as:

F#m   A    D     E    C#7 
 i   III   VI   VII    V

Now let's look at each section:

Main Riff

You can look in at this section in a few different ways. The simplest is that it is just in the key of F# minor with the B chord borrowed from the relative major. Another possibility is that it is F#m minor and the B chord is built from the melodic minor scale. You could also look at it as a progression in the F# dorian mode since all those chords exist in F# Dorian, but based on the rest of the chords I think it is a stretch, though for soloing/melodic construction either way the analysis is:

    F#m  A    B
F#m: i  III  IV


There's no second guessing this section. It's just F# minor ending in a half cadence to take you to the next section.

     E   Riff(F#m)   E   C#7
F#m: VII     i      VII   V


This section sounds to me more in A major then F# minor as the chords seem to revolve around A in a sequence like progression.The last chord is used to pivot back to F# minor. The analysis of this section is as follows:

    D   A  E  F#m  ...    D   A  E   C#7
A:  IV  I  V   vi  ...   IV   I  V  
F#m:                                  V

So the song itself isn't all in one key, but I wouldn't way there is a lot of complex things happening and is pretty simple once you realize the F#7 is just an F#m and the only other chord can easily be borrowed from a parallel key.

  • Hi @Dom. In the Main Riff section, did you mean to say: "The simplest is that it is just in the key of F# minor with the B chord borrowed from the parallel major"? Thanks! – 286642 Feb 14 at 0:14
  • Also, looking at the C#7 (last chord of the bridge)--shouldn't this be a minor chord? Since the v chord in a minor scale is minor? – 286642 Feb 14 at 1:29
  • @286642 yes to the first, no to the second. In a minor key, while the dominant is naturally minor it is typically make major to better lead back to the tonic. – Dom Feb 14 at 1:43

To me this just seems obviously to be in F# minor. So:

Main riff: i III IV

Bridge: VII i VII V7

Then the D and A chords give a D majorish, D lydian kind of sound but it still ends with a VII i cadence so you could maybe argue we're still in F#minor.

chorus: VI(I) III(V) VII(II) i(iii)

Then the C#7 at the end of the chorus works to take us back squarely to F# minor.

In terms of modality, are you aware of modal interchange/infliction? It's the idea of modes on the same tonic freely borrowing notes (and hence chords) from each other. So which particular mode is most clearly heard isn't really always an easy or meaningful question to answer. There is often used patterns, like pulling the VII from a minor mode when you're in a major one.

  • 1
    Roman number "III" should read as a secondary dominant (V/vi) as well as the VII(V/iii). There is no such thing as a "VII - i cadence". – jjmusicnotes Jun 13 '15 at 13:35
  • Really? I though in order to have secondary dominant it had to tonicise the chord following it? Isn't the VII functioning as a substitute for the v chord in a v7-i cadence? – Kazz Jun 13 '15 at 14:00
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    You can't do substitutions in analysis. – Dom Jun 13 '15 at 15:03
  • @Kazz In order to function as a secondary dominant, yes, it should tonicize the following chord. However, roman numeral analysis in this case would show the intended function. Roman numeral analysis tends to stop being useful with non-functional harmony. – jjmusicnotes Jun 13 '15 at 17:01
  • The song is in A major. An easy way to tell the key of Oasis songs is by the fret position of the guitar solo. – malhal Oct 15 '16 at 15:23

I don't know this song (and having a beer in the sun, so listening is not realy an option, haha) but I think I can help you though.

First of all, I would like to advise you to write in the same key if you want this kind of info, it's much easier to see what is the "odd thing" here (more about the "odd thing" below)

Secondly, you should ask yourself the question why you would like to know this in this context. As we would use it in jazz (or more harmonic based music like the Beatles etc) then you can't really tell from the information provided.

But, if you want to know it for soloing on it and for playing additions then the main question is: what are the used structures. The chorus contains F#, C#, G#, (A#, but dominant) So it would look like that "A" is the main key. No dorian here.

About the main riff, I would guess Dorian, butjust because in this V, bVII, I it most of the time is Dorian because the G would be b9 on the V.

But... If it's for soling it doesn't matter, if you want the b13, b9 sound, then you're there. Listen to Miles' solo on Tutu (same progression)

  • I am trying to understand harmonical functions simply. Chorus is the easy part, as it's simply Dlydian in the original key of C, or F lydian trasposed to Am/C as I did. My question is more addressed to the bold chords in the transcripton to Am and Dm, that are coincident to the tricks in House fo Raising Sun – Whimusical Aug 10 '13 at 11:48
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    Downvoted for "and having a beer in the sun, so listening is not realy an option, haha". This irks me to no end. I already get mad when I get emails that say "I'm not in front of my computer so I couldn't check out the document you sent" (then wait until you get to the office and then try actually giving a shit about my mail, duh), but seeing this on SE is a bit more than I can handle. – Some Dude On The Interwebs Jun 13 '15 at 15:06

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