Music education always & always looking forward.

Aeolian Mode in Katy Perry's "Part of Me"

Party time in Aeolian mode! Who says minor keys have to be sad?

katy part.jpg

I'd been waiting to have an "Aeolian Mode Party" week here on the blog. This fall has been especially busy for me, and there's not been a whole lot of reasons or time to party. So we might as well choose this week -- it's as good as any other, and well, Halloween parties are fun.

As has been suggested, oddly enough by psychology journals, the minor mode (most prominently the natural minor, or Aeolian mode) has proliferated popular song over the course of the last 50 years. (The article requires an American Psychology Association login, but the piece linked gives a good explanation.) The overly simplistic explanation is that minor mode sounds sad, when in actuality, you're likely to hear many Aeolian mode songs on party playlists. Or maybe even in a club. (I have a two-year-old; I wouldn't know what anyone would hear in clubs these days.)

Thus, we welcome you to our Aeolian Mode Party Week!! We'll start with one of the most notable faces of Aeolian partying, and the alternately guiltiest/least guilty musical pleasure of mine, Ms. Katy Perry.

"Part of Me" - Katy Perry

Intro: Starting with her first pop album release in 2008, Katy Perry has challenged long-held chart records. Her 2010 album Teenage Dream was the first released by a female artist that featured five Billboard Hot 100 #1 single; the prior album to have achieved that feat was Michael Jackson’s Bad in 1989. “Part of Me” was an added track on the re-release Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection in 2012 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Perry has been nominated for 13 Grammy awards and sold over 100 million albums worldwide, making her one of the most successful female recording artists in history. This song reached #1 not only in the US, but in Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, the UK singles chart, and the Venezuela Pop Rock charts, as well as the US Dance Club songs.

Analysis: “Part of Me” begins in D minor, using an initial chord progression of Dmin-F-Bb-C (or i-III-VI-VII), reinforcing the natural minor key and the Aeolian mode setting. The Bb and C chords (VI-VII) are heard most often throughout the song.

Considerations for Teaching: Although Perry has been known for sexual overtones in her lyrics (and her costumes), this song contains no inappropriate language or subject matter. The lyrical theme conveyed in this song is self-sufficiency after a break-up.

Aeolian Mode & Jazz Samples in Gotye (feat. Kimbra)'s "Somebody That I Used to Know"

#popmused chat -- the debut album!