Music education always & always looking forward.

The Catchiest Meter Trick: Changing Meter in Dionne Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer"

Ever wonder why you can't get this song out of your head with a crowbar? It's the little time signature changes sprinkled throughout.

Over the course of this week, you'll be seeing songs that I consider to be outstanding teaching examples.  Need a boost in your classes, or want a great tune to play for your students to demonstrate changing meter?  Dip into some Dionne.  Trust me on this one!

“I Say a Little Prayer” - Dionne Warwick

Intro: Having songs on various Billboard charts in five separate decades (the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2010s) and having won five Grammys, Dionne Warwick has attained great cultural signficance as a pop singer. Many of her early hits were written by the famed pop songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David (who jointly received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2012), including “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” The song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1967 and would be followed by 20 subsequent songs of hers that reached the Top 40 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Analysis: The song is written and performed in changing meter throughout. The verses are written in a pattern of two measures of 4/4, a measure of 2/4 followed by three measures of 4/4. The chorus is played in a pattern of a measure of 4/4, a measure of ¾ and a measure of 4/4, with both of these patterns repeating themselves throughout their respective sections. These patterns are sometimes analyzed as emulating 10/4 in the verses (as 4/4, 10/4, 4/4, 4/4) and 11/4 in the verses (4+3+4). 

Considerations for Teaching: This song contains no offensive subject matter or language and works as a terrific, intelligent listening example of pop music.

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Wishing for Edinburgh