Sunday, April 10, 2011

James Blake's The Wilhelm Scream (+chords)

James Blake has had a good year, releasing an EP in fall and an eponymous debut album earlier this year. He's got a fresh sound, very sparse, lean, kind of dubstep, kind of grimy, kind of retro-fi, and a touch of pure pop ballad, and he's getting a lot of well deserved attention. His tunes are very simple but heartfelt, and his arranging of noise and atmospheric sounds are what makes them interesting. On his debut album probably my initial favorite was "The Wilhelm Scream," which is no more than ten measures of one melody, two lyrics over and over in an increasingly noisy and dense atmosphere. I like it.

I haven't figured out exactly what he's doing under the noise, and I haven't really seen the chord progression anywhere, so for some more beginner musicians out there who might enjoy playing this tune I'll just toss up a quick guess:

Intro: CMaj7 - - - Em - - - CMaj7 - - - G - - -
                                                     [pick up] I don't know about my

CMaj 7 - - - Em - - -
Dreams......     I don't know about my
CMaj7 - - -                  G
dreaming anymore, All that I know is I'm

G - F,        F - Em, Em - D,   D - C - - - - -                         G - - - - - - -
Fal-ling, fal-ling, fal-ling, fal-ling...might as well fall

Then the progression is repeated with the second line. The interesting thing is that the melody is so simple that Blake can change the chords underneath it, and what makes it really interesting is that he begins to do this as the texture gets noisier.
At some point the G chord for two bars at the end becomes one bar of G then a GMaj7 for the second bar. Later still the second bar becomes two beats each of GMa7 and G7 (which leads nicely to a CMaj7). Sometimes instead of ending on the G he moves to either Em or something else, and at some point he changes the progression to G - - - GMa7/F# - - - Em - - - G/D - - - CMaj - - - D [and then holds it past the normal resolution spot; from here you could go to the Em or G]

I wish I had more time to really figure it out. Below is the official video and then a really nice live version, which has different alterations of the chords; listening to it now as I type I can hear that he doesn't resolve to the G at the end of the line but goes to Em, then to D (with a possible finish on GMaj7-G7). I'd like to figure more out but I have to get back to work, but I thought I'd throw this out there for whomever...


classicalcheese said...

thanks so much!
great track and a brilliant explanation of the progression!

Kevin said...

you're most welcome. sorry I never got around to finishing it.

idkwgo said...

sounds like cmaj7 and D in the beginning with a play on 7ths and 5ths

scale is E minor