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Honey Don't by Carl Perkins Analysis


Recorded in 1955, this single was on the B side to Blue Suede Shoes which went on to sell over a million copies and become a number 1. Honey Don't is an example of a Rockability which is a type of Rock and Roll which elements of Blues and country-music. Below is a complete analysis of the single Honey Don't. Feel free to skip to the parts most relevant to you.

  • The time signature is a simple quadruple compound being 4/4.
  • There is a '12/8 feel' giving the piece a swing rhythm.
  • Honey Don't keeps to a verse and chorus structure with instrumental breaks.
  • The song is in the tonic key of E major and doesn't change the whole way through.
  • A limited range of chords dominated by the primary chords of E major: E, A and B7 and also C.
  • The texture is melody dominated homophony. The verses sometimes use stop time (vocal singing without instruments) and there is a heterophonic texture (variation of melody line) during the walking bass from the lead guitar varying it.
  • A walking bass is a bass melody that moves up and down in a conjunct motion.
  • There is an introduction that lasts for 4 bars. It has the lead guitar having a solo using double stopping (playing two notes at once) and grace notes. The solo is descending.
  • The vocals in this music has deliberately poor diction. It also uses an anacrusis before singing a lot.
  • The vocals feature syllabic word setting with the whole piece being diatonic (sticking to the notes of the scale).
  • Verse 1 starts at bar 6. It has a disjunct (leaping up and down) melody line. The rhythm used has suspensions and ties creating syncopation.
  • The range of the vocals is a 13th (B to G).
  • The drums beats sometimes try to play the same rhythm as the bass.
  • There are blue notes in the melody being G and D natural.
  • The chords used are diatonic and not bluesy.
  • Bar 10 has a 2 bar phrase with the lead guitar doubling the rhythm of the bass.
  • The double bass at bar 13 starts the walking bass through outlining the notes of the current chords.
  • The chorus uses a conventional 12 bar blues with a walking bass in the bass guitar. 
  • There are parallel fourths in the lead guitar's instrumental solo with a syncopated rhythm.
  • The double bass uses passing notes before playing triads.
  • Verse 3 is an octave higher than verse 1 and 2.
  • The vocals use non-sense syllables 'ba'.
  • There is a change of signature at bar 82 to 3/2.
  • The vocal sometimes sings half spoken words. The note has a cross instead of a black dote (bar 87).
  • The vocal sings melismatically (singing one syllable through more than one note). He does this most on 'don't' of the chorus.
  • The added 6th of C sharp in the final chord gives the ending a jazz sound.
Be sure to check out other pieces I have analysed on Ask Will Online.

About Will Green

A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

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