Musical analysis of
“I Surrender Dear”
||A - A - B
a great deal of tension between major and
minor before resolving to C major at the
end of the “A” sections.
thirds in “A” sections, ascending for four
measures, then cascading back down in measure
5. “B” moves step-wise over the range of
a minor 3rd before a final downward leap
of a fifth and subsequent bounce back up
a fourth, returning to “A”.
If one takes the practice of chord substitution
into consideration, the opening harmonic
progression of this song is similar to “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Cheerful
Little Earful.” It is basically a ii7-V7-I-VI7,
with a iii substituting for “I.” This gives
the song an unsettled feeling, reflecting
the tortured emotions of the singer. Although
the harmony returns to “I” in measure 5,
this is not the true resolution, which is
delayed until the final (and title) line
of the chorus, “I surrender, dear.”
“B”, the progression jumps up to III7 as
if there were to be a false key change to
A minor, but–keeping with the spirit of
the lyric–never quite makes it there, instead
reaching up to the IV chord (in the original
key, E7-F), then slipping back, only to
reach again – and slip back. Eventually,
it finally does resolve to vi, leading to
the II7-V7 progression that should logically
return to I but doesn’t until the final
measures of the song.
It is also worth noting that the melody
ends, not on the tonic note, but on the
fifth, thus strengthening the impression
of unresolved feelings and inner conflict.
This is not a difficult piece since it stays
within the range of a ninth. Performers
should listen carefully to their rhythm
section, keeping in mind that virtually
every harmonic resolution is a delayed one.
K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for JazzStandards.com
Check out K. J. McElrath’s book of Jazz Standards Guide Tone Lines at his web site (www.bardicle.com).