21
Feb
11

Piano/Guitar Chords for Radiohead’s “Codex”

Something to play around with on piano or guitar. Chords are approximate. Listen closely to the original to catch the exact timing of Thom’s changes:


Intro:  C  Bb  Dm


C          Bb Dm

Slight of  hand

F                        Bb

Jump off the end

Bb        Am   C

Into a clear lake

C        Bb   Dm

No one around


So hopefully you’ve given The King of Limbs a couple of spins at this point… How do you like it?? Personally, I’ve found it to have a lot in common with the laid back, mature, post-having-anything-to-prove-to-anyone, live-in-studio vibe that made In Rainbows pop, but with a renewed nudge toward the old Kid A/Amnesiac experimental spirit.

Specifically, it seems Radiohead have begun to incorporate the tumbling rhythms of dubstep, a sub-genre of electronic music that’s been building cred in the U.K. underground over the past decade.

I’m a complete neophyte with this style, but I can already see the major critics out there declaring that with Limbs, Radiohead has now blown every dubstep album before it out of the water. I kid, but this may actually turn out to be true, given Thom Yorke’s uncanny ability to incorporate melody and resonant lyrical content into musical forms traditionally seen as inhuman. (And yes, there is melody ALL OVER this album. “Morning Mr. Magpie” is Verse-Chorus-Verse for cryin’ out loud! There’s also TONS of live instrumentation. The thing’s been out for four days, and I’m already tired of hearing Limbs being called The Eraser 2… As if that’s some kind of insult!)

Anyway, that dubstep stuff is mainly confined to the first half of the album (especially the opening track “Bloom”).  If your first listen was like mine, the first melody to really grab your attention was Track 6, “Codex”. It’s a patented Thom Yorke dirge-like-yet-lilting piano ballad in the spirit of “Pyramid Song”, “Like Spinning Plates”, and “Videotape”. I was so moved by the simple beauty of vocal line that I immediately picked up my guitar and tried to figure out the chord changes. Surprisingly, the chords used are quite simple – the real magic comes from the unorthodox way Yorke holds onto a chord a touch longer than you’d expect before changing. In my rough sketch above, I’m talking specifically about the way the Bb from the “Jump off the end” line carries over into the “Into a clear lake” line, as wells as how the C from “Into a clear lake” hangs over into “No one around”. It’s a method we’ve seen before in Radiohead songs, most memorably in the stilted progression of the haunting “Pyramid Song”.

Enjoy!

(All Rights Reserved to the writers of the song, etc.!)

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