The World's Most-Used Musical Sequence!

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

What do Beethoven, David Bowie, Green Day, Mozart, *NSYNC, Pete Seeger, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, The Supremes, Rihanna, and many others all have in common? The Andalusian Cadence! Also known as the Diatonic Phrygian Tetrachord--sometimes written as i-bVII-bVI-V (or, in the key of A, the descending sequence A, G, F, E)--this sequence of four notes, this musical pattern, chord progression, or bass line shows up throughout the ages in all styles and genres, underlying music that ranges from sad to joyful, delicate to badass.

David Garland has assembled more than 50 recordings of music from over five centuries to vividly make the case that this four-note progression, the Andalusian Cadence, is the world's most-used musical sequence.


----Set 1
Heinrich Ignatz Frans von Biber - Passagalia For Solo Violin - Andrew Manze, violin
Louis Armstrong - It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) (composed by Duke Ellington) - The Great Summit: The Master Takes
Manitas de Plata - Mi Sentimiento
The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations
Del Shannon - Runaway
Benny Goodman - Topsy - The Great Benny Goodman, Vol. 2
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons - Vintage Collections
King Crimson - Epitaph - In the Court of the Crimson King
Paul Simon - Anji (composed by Davy Graham) - Simon & Garfunkle Live from New York City, 1967
Simon & Garfunkel - A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Moondog - Stamping Ground - Moondog
Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Blank Generation
Nina Simone - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Meredith Monk - Greensleeves
U2 - Twilight - Boy
The Four Tops - Bernadette
Rihanna - The Hotness
Zager and Evans - In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)
Ray Charles - Hit the Road Jack - Anthology
----Set 2
The Ventures - Walk Don't Run - Walk Don't Run
Lallo Gori - Seq. 3 - Operazione Luna 
Herman Stein - Stranger - The Intruder
Hans Reichel - Bubu And His Friend - Yuxos
Matti Bye - The Girl In the Tree - Faro
Carl Orff - Ruhiger Tanz - Orff-Schulwerk Volume One/Musica Poetica
Mozart - String Quartet #15 In D Minor, K 421: 1. Allegro Moderato (performed by the Cleveland Quartet
Chuck Willis - Night of Misery - A Tribute to Chuck Willis
Green Day - Hitchin' a Ride - Nimrod
Hall & Oates - Maneater - The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates
The Grass Roots - I'd Wait a Million Years - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Grass Roots
Shakira - Objection (Tango) - Laundry Service
Jerry Jeff Walker - The Ballad of the Hulk - Mr. Bojangles
Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moonlight": I. Adagio Sostenuto (performed by Alfred Brendel)
Pete Seeger - Waist Deep In The Big Muddy - The Essential Pete Seeger
Henry Mancini - Top Shelf - Bachelor In Paradise
The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer In the City - Platinum & Gold Collection: The Lovin' Spoonful
Jeff Gibbs - Fahrenheit 9/11 trk 4 - Fahrenheit 9/11
----Set 3
101 Strings Orchestra - Carol of the Bells (Shchedryk) - Home for the Holidays
The Turtles - Happy Together - Happy Together
Ennio Morricone - L'ultima Volta - I Malamondo
David Bowie - China Girl - Let's Dance
Ennio Morricone - Two Nice Tramps - Occhio Alla Penna (aka Buddy Goes West)
Ennio Morricone - At The Tailor - Occhio Alla Penna (aka Buddy Goes West)
Quilapayun - ¡El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido! - The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
Johnny Dankworth & Cleo Lane - Let's Slip Away - 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'
*NSYNC - Bye Bye Bye - No Strings Attached
Dave Van Ronk - One Meatball - Van Ronk
Paco de Lucía - Punta Umbria - Antología, Vol. 1
----Set 4
Bob Dylan - One More Cup of Coffee - Desire
Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal - Bad
Maury Laws - The Baron - Mad Monster Party
Mötley Crüe - God Bless the Children of the Beast - Shout At the Devil
Diana Ross & The Supremes - Love Child - Number 1's: Diana Ross & The Supremes
Joe Meek & the Blue Men - Orbit Around The Moon - I Hear a New World
Dick Dale - Miserlou - Guitar Legend: The Very Best of Dick Dale
The Beatles - I'll Be Back - A Hard Day's Night
Claudio Monteverdi - Lamento della ninfa: "Amor dov’è la fe" (performed by Montserrat Figueras & Hespèrion XXI
Disney Chorus - Pink Elephants On Parade - Dumbo


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Comments [79]


Mind Games by John Lennon

Mar. 26 2014 05:41 PM
Keith from New York

Check out for a lot of soundalikes

Mar. 25 2014 11:47 AM
Eric Crawford from Amherst, MA

The similar descending chromatic line was well documented by Alex Ross on his blog and in the New Yorker a few years ago. Look for "Chacona, Lamento". This one looks at early music as well as early blues, Dylan's "Diary of a Thin Man" and Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused"

Mar. 10 2014 03:29 PM
Barry Pollack from Seattle, WA

Babe I'm Gonna Leave you by Led Zeppelin. Acoustic Guitar Intro.
A G F# F E,harmonized: Am Am/G D7/F# F E just like Summer in the City (Lovin' Spoonful).

Mar. 06 2014 02:30 AM

Stray Cat Strut- The Stray Cats
The Voyage- The Moody Blues

Mar. 01 2014 04:03 PM

Peggy Lee - Why don't you do right

Feb. 24 2014 07:34 PM
BenM from Jersey

Also "Can You See Him" - Batdorf & Rodney (CLASSIC acoustic guitar jam from early '70's). Try to find the original "Off the Shelf" studio recording, if possible.

Feb. 17 2014 07:58 PM
Mauricio Puento

A few more to add:

Santana - Toussaint L'Overture
I Mother Earth - Earth, Sky, & C

Feb. 17 2014 05:26 PM
BenM from Parsippany NJ

"Both Ends Burning" - Roxy Music

Feb. 16 2014 10:20 PM
Vlahdy from jersey

"Molotov" One of the greatest band out of Mexico, has a song that is an anthem wen it comes to protest song. 'Gimma tha power'

Feb. 16 2014 09:21 PM
MostArt from Holliwood

Yikers. This is awesomeness. Check out some of mine. MostArtDOTcom

Feb. 16 2014 11:24 AM

Forgive the hyperbole, but: Greatest show ever! Cleo Laine is, I believe spelled with an "i" (in it).

Feb. 15 2014 04:02 PM
Pablo Masbién from Madrid

Los Mismos - Voy A Pintar Las Paredes Con Tu Nombre

Feb. 15 2014 06:34 AM
diegoapunto from Madrid

Olé, David! By the way: Paco de Lucía is THE flamenco guitarist

Feb. 14 2014 06:45 PM

hey, Van Ronk did not write One Meatball, it's from ca. 1944.

Feb. 14 2014 06:27 PM
Al59 from Spain

One more: Guajira Sicodélica, from the Peruvian 60's group Los Destellos.

Feb. 14 2014 06:12 PM
Al59 from Spain

One more: Guajira Sicodélica, from the Peruvian 60's group Los Destellos.

Feb. 14 2014 06:11 PM
Jordan Lee from South Florida

Opps...I think you left out 'California Dreaming' & 'Sound Of My Guitar'.

Feb. 14 2014 04:34 PM

Isn't the Andalusian Cadence the same as Pachelbel's Canon?

Feb. 14 2014 03:27 PM
NLB from New York

I've been thinking about this all week.
What about Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" and Adele's "Let the Sky Fall"?

Feb. 14 2014 03:07 PM
Steve Comeau from Fanwood, NJ

David should get an award for this show. Nice exploration of the theme that expanded my musical awareness. I'll be on the lookout for that sequence from now on.

Feb. 14 2014 08:04 AM
Stephen Westfall from Red Hook

Carol of the Bells?

Feb. 13 2014 11:14 PM
Jack Lechner from Manhattan

Loved this show! Here's a classic example: "Feelin' Good" by Nina Simone is entirely built on the cadence.

Feb. 13 2014 09:36 PM
Doug M from NJ

"25 or 6 to 4" counts in my book as it is exactly the same as the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City." They both have three half-steps to finish off the cadence (A, G, F#, F, E if you will). Some people need to chill about the "In the World" claim. The vast, vast majority of "World" music has never been put on paper or recorded in any fashion, so no one can make any claims about it one way or another. And, if you listen to the entire podcast, David quite clearly did NOT try and stake that claim. He only wondered out loud how pervasive this pattern of notes might be outside of western music. Descending cadences are extremely robust throughout music. I suspect this cadence is everywhere in the world. It made me think of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale," but alas that descending cadence does not start and end on the right note. In that cadence the 1/2 step is the first, followed by the two whole steps. Quite the opposite of the Andalusian progression. Thanks David for a great listen.

Feb. 13 2014 05:30 PM
Kevin from Bellingham, WA

How about Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles, and California Dreamin' by the Mamas and Papas.

Feb. 13 2014 05:04 PM

*Garfunkel not "Garfunkle"

Feb. 13 2014 04:35 PM

The collective unconscious or perhaps our genetic signature. Teach me more. This was an amazing journey.

Feb. 13 2014 02:31 PM
E from NYC

Has anyone mentioned "Why should I die" from Jesus Christ Superstar?

Feb. 13 2014 02:30 PM
Dan A from Berkeley, CA

If you can forgive a passing chord (implied IV 1st inversion) between the 2nd and 3rd chord then

"25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago qualifies.

Feb. 13 2014 02:25 PM
Dan A

Journey - Separate Ways - (the V is implied but never gets there, otherwise it fits)
Mamas and the Papas - California Dreamin' (the motion goes back to VII before going to the V, but the implication is clear)

Feb. 13 2014 02:13 PM
Dan A from Berkeley, CA

Also another by Blue Oyster Cult - I'm Burnin' For You (partial in the chorus only)

Feb. 13 2014 01:11 PM

Ooops - I meant BWV 827

Feb. 13 2014 01:01 PM

J.S. Bach's Partita in A minor, BWV 1013.
"Gesthemane" from Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar

Feb. 13 2014 12:57 PM
Dan A from Berkeley, CA

In part or implied:

Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven (with passing chords), and more directly during the ending guitar solo
Shawn Colvin - Sunny Came Home (just briefly and occasionally in the verses)
Kansas - People of the South Wind (And Carry on My Wayward Son dances around the underpinnings even though not much verbatim)
Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper (doesn't really go to the V directly)
Sting - I hope the Russians Love Their Children Too (only partial)
Journey - Wheel In the Sky (implied)

Feb. 13 2014 12:56 PM

i made a youtube playlist of this. could not find all the songs though.

Feb. 13 2014 12:33 PM
David Garland

I'm working my way through the songs suggested here in the comments, checking whether or not they use the DPT. Some do, some don't. Here's how it sounds to me so far:

Isaac Hayes - Ike's Rap (No, the sequence is slightly different: D, C, B, Bb)
Tricky - Hell Is Around the Corner (No, this is based on "Ike's Rap")
Nick Drake - Been Smoking Too Long (Yes)
John Barry - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Yes, with some very cool permutations!)
Jerry Jeff Walker - Mr. Bonjangles (No, that's the Pachelbel Canon progression, but Jerry Jeff's "Ballad of the Hulk" from his "Mr. Bonjangles" album is included in this show.)
Sara from NYC's link to "The Lick" video (Not the Cadence, but do follow her link--amazing!)
The Eagles - Hotel California (No)
I Wonder as I Wander (I tried playing the melody over the Cadence, and it works in an interesting way--the flatted sixth in the Cadence makes an interesting dissonance--though I've never heard a recording in which the song is harmonized that way.)
Irving Berlin - Let Yourself Go (Possibly could use the Cadence between verses, but I don't hear it in the "Follow the Fleet" version.)
Irving Berlin - Puttin' on the Ritz (Cadence is used in passing between phrases of the refrain.)
Irving Berlin - Mr. Monotony (Yes, good one, since the repeating Cadence relates to the lyrics!)
The Cat Came Back (Yes)
Chris Isaac - Blue Spanish Sky (Yes)
U2 - 11 O'Clock Tick Tock (No)
Sting - Be Still My Beating Heart (No)
Nirvana - Lithium (No)
Aimee Mann - Save Me (No)
Flux of Pink Indians - Tube Disasters (No)
Aaliyah & Timbaland - Are You That Somebody (Sort of. The second note in the sequence isn't stated, but it could be implied. Instead of D, C, Bb, A it goes D, D, Bb, A)
The Sugarcubes - Birthday (No)
White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (Yes, the Cadence is definitely there, but it's implicit rather than explicit)
Green Day - Brain Stew/Jaded (Close, but not quite. I think it's the same as "Ike's Rap")
John Cale - Andalucia (No)

Also there's a MetaFilter thread about the show - - which includes some suggested songs:
Jesus Christ Superstar, when Jesus asks "Why should I die?" (Yes)
The Moody Blues - Dear Diary (Yes)
Joy Division - Decades (No)
It's a Beautiful Day - Girl With No Eyes (Yes; nice to be reminded of this song!)
The Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut (Yes)
Handsome Boy Modeling School - The Truth (samples Galt MacDermot - Coffee Cold) (Yes, and the MacDermot original is great!)

More to come later...

Feb. 13 2014 11:47 AM
Michael S

Try finding examples from outside the West before you declare this the "world's" most used musical sequence. You have three examples from Latin America, many from the US, and the rest from Europe. Hard to believe, but that's not the entire world, nor does it represent the entire world's music. In any case, it was a fun listen.

Feb. 13 2014 11:45 AM
MIhai Coman from New York

Awesome! Hit the Road Jack is the most obvious one in my opinion. There's actually a Spotify-integrated site that keeps track of songs that share similarities - . I just put in one of the examples and linked to this article.

Feb. 13 2014 11:28 AM
Howard from Summit NJ

The River - Bruce Springsteen
Four Seasons- Vivaldi (can't remember which season but unmistakable)

Feb. 13 2014 11:21 AM
barbara from Verona, NJ

I'm surprised that no one yet has mentioned the overture to the opera Carmen, which is actually set in Andalusia.

Feb. 13 2014 09:10 AM
David Garland

Thanks for all the great comments and song suggestions! I was thinking about the cyclical nature of the Andalusian cadence--how the four notes keep circling around, repetition leading to repetition--while watching the snow fall this morning. And I realized I had a good song or mantra to sing to the tune of the Tetrachord: "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter..."

Feb. 13 2014 09:06 AM
Stuart from Brooklyn

My wife, 14 year-old daughter and I listened to the show on Sunday and it was one of the best programs we have ever heard on WNYC, and that's saying something!!!

Feb. 13 2014 08:02 AM
George Schein

Cat Stevens: "Wild World"
The verse has a little variation on the Andalusian cadence, but it is clearly the diatonic phyrgian tetracord. When I first heard the song as a kid, I thought it sounded quite similar to Zager and Evans "In the Year 2525," which has a much purer Andalusian cadence.

Feb. 13 2014 12:01 AM
George Schein

Cat Stevens: "Wild World"
The verse has a little variation on the Andalusian cadence, but it is clearly the diatonic phyrgian tetracord. When I first heard the song as a kid, I thought it sounded quite similar to Zager and Evans "In the Year 2525," which has a much purer Andalusian cadence.

Feb. 12 2014 11:58 PM
Andrew M Brooks from New York

Here is the next theme to investigate -

The Bo Diddley rhythm. Where did it come from? Did Bo create it?

Did it come from Africa? It shows up everywhere.

Feb. 12 2014 10:24 PM
Jan from Upper West Side

Let's not forget Chicago underground cult icon Wesley Willis, who wrote hundreds of songs, almost ALL of them using the same Andalusian Cadence. All his songs are around 2:30 minutes long, which he believed to be the perfect length for a pop song. His use of the Cadence might follow a similar pattern: maybe he thought it to be the perfect chord structure for a pop song?

There's also La Llorona (Mexican traditional / Chavela Vargas / Lila Downs).

Feb. 12 2014 10:19 PM
Andrew M Brooks from New York

Valerie - The Monkees
Michelle - the Beatles
I'll Be There - The Four Tops
Like A Hurricane - Neil Young

Feb. 12 2014 10:03 PM

I'm not sure, but I think Angola Crisis - Joe Gibbs & The Professionals - African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 2

Feb. 12 2014 03:01 PM
Sharon Kathleen Johnson

With only eleven different chromatic notes, music is bound to repeat itself, at least in the tonal world.

Feb. 12 2014 01:34 PM
Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

Speaking of the influence -- subliminal or not -- of "ancient" music, have you ever considered exploring the possible relationship between Torah trop (ta'amim) and the music of Claudio Monteverdi? Hint: the early Baroque trillo (the quickly repeated note) is much like the teruah portion of the shofar call on Rosh Hashana, and Monteverdi worked with Salomone Rossi and Rossi's sister La Europa at the court of Mantua ...

Feb. 12 2014 09:04 AM
Robert from Pine Bush, NY

I loved the program however one minor correction; "I'll Be Back" by The Beatles from the album Beatle'65, not Help.

Feb. 12 2014 08:18 AM
Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

I guess I agree with Jung, then, and the use of this cadence through the years supports the concept of the collective unconcsious. (Yep, I posted my first comment in the pre-Jungian part of the broadcast... <facepalm> )

Feb. 12 2014 08:03 AM
Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

Fun and fascinating! That cadence has been around for so long, I think it's just entered the musical psyche as a sort of stock motif and is pulled out for specific musico-dramatic effect.

Feb. 12 2014 07:54 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

What a tour de force this program is! It reminds me that the great music critic, Irving Kolodin, wrote a book illustraing how many composers used the "Must it be?" motif that, perhaps, most famously begins Franck's d minor Symphony: D, C-sharp, F. That's another repertory-expanding and mind-jostling experience.

Feb. 12 2014 06:03 AM

this was great. you should do a series of these with other common progressions. bring on part 2: the 12 bar blues.

Feb. 11 2014 12:33 PM
Alex D.

Some of y'all are just saying songs.

Feb. 11 2014 07:46 AM
Anne Phelan from Brooklyn, NY

Kurt Weill's "The Saga of Jenny"

Feb. 10 2014 06:55 PM
Enchanted from manhatten

Phenomenal show!
Does anyone with more knowledge of opera than I know if it was picked up by any of the great 19th century opera writers?

Feb. 10 2014 04:19 PM
Bill Moroz

Stray Cat Strut - Stray Cats

Feb. 10 2014 12:58 PM
William Zucker from Brooklyn, NY

There are plenty of of passages in
classical music which show this
sort of Phrygian writing, which may or may not
directly follow baldly this harmonic
progression as in much Spanish music by
Albeniz or even Granados.

Much of Bruckner's music has passages of this
nature; in fact, this pervades much of his
Sixth Symphony.

And in Rachmaninov, there are such passages in
his Third Piano Concerto and Third Symphony
(middle movements, with a fleeting suggestion in the
last movement of the symphony),
and in the last of his Symphonic Dances.

Feb. 10 2014 08:15 AM
William Childers

Led Zeppelin, "Dazed and Confused"

Feb. 10 2014 07:50 AM
Lee Bishop from New Jersey - again

Strawbs - Hero and Heroine - Autum

Feb. 09 2014 09:59 PM
Lee Bishop from New Jersey

Moody Blues - On the Threshold of a Dream - The Voyage

Feb. 09 2014 09:47 PM
Rob Kuhn from Pelham NY

John Cale's 1973 album "Paris, 1919" has a song CALLED Andalucia (if the spelling on Wikipedia is correct) that I think may use the sequence. If that's correct, it's likely he may have been aware of the connection.

Feb. 09 2014 09:40 PM

White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army" (also used as an international sports anthem)
Green Day, "Brain Stew/Jaded"

Feb. 09 2014 09:05 PM
Jo VB from 11201

Great show! Please do it again.
A few to consider:
Save Me by Aimee Mann
Tube Disaster by Flux of Pink Indians
Are You That Somebody by Aliyah & Timbaland
Birthday by Sugarcubes

Feb. 09 2014 09:05 PM
Bill Gauthier from West Harlem

Gold finger ?
Chris Isaac Blue Spanish sky
U2 11 oclock tic tock
Sting still my beating heart
Nirvana Lithium?
Michelle Shocked most early folk stuff
Nutcracker Suite?

Feb. 09 2014 09:04 PM
CeeKay from Bronx

simple but brilliant
best in class show
mustn't leave out:
The Cat Came Back

Feb. 09 2014 09:01 PM
Paul Cremo

Sixteen Tons
Hotel California
I Wonder as I Wander
Three songs by Irving Berlin:
-Let Yourself Go
-Puttin' on the Ritz
-Mr. Monotony

Feb. 09 2014 09:01 PM
sara from NYC

PS Thanks for another great show!

Feb. 09 2014 08:59 PM
sara from NYC

What about this one?

Feb. 09 2014 08:55 PM
Bill Zavatsky from Manhattan

Wonderful show! Is Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bonjangles" in there? I might have missed it.

Feb. 09 2014 08:52 PM
Steve Cohen from New York, NY

I'm surprised you missed including the title track from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." That's a perfect example of the Adalusian Cadence.

Feb. 09 2014 08:42 PM
Tom Riis Farrell from Brooklyn, NY

I've got another: Nick Drake's "Been Smoking Too Long"

Feb. 09 2014 08:37 PM

One Meatball

Feb. 09 2014 08:35 PM
John from Bklyn

Another great SOA!

How about:
Ike's Rap - Isaac Hayes - Black Moses

Sampled by:
Tricky - Hell Is Around the Corner - Maxinquaye

Feb. 09 2014 08:28 PM
walter schretz from Morningside Hgts

Oh boy! I couldn't turn it off once I started this morning and I was almost late for church! When I returned I listened again with supervision from Mary Ellen Callahan mine own at home classical musician. She helped me hear the sequence despite the temptation of the melody.
At one point she said to me that she could see I was listening to the melody- though she did not rap my knuckles-it being Sunday and all-
We never cease from learning and the end of all our learning is to get our knuckles rapped for once again being distracted.
At any rate, when all that was said and sung was done and the deep voiced roustabout sang Pink Elephants on Parade-Maryellen burst out laughing with joy! The kind of laugh, the kind of joy that comes from beauty and is beautiful.

Feb. 09 2014 07:37 PM
Andrea Harris Cohen from New York

Gosh, David, I never thought you could best your Hawaiian War Chant Extravaganza from October 7, 1990, but this comes very close! (as you can tell, LONG time listener....)

Feb. 09 2014 02:48 PM
Betty Turtledove

This is utterly fascinating! Thank you!

Feb. 08 2014 01:46 PM

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