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This minor sixth interval wastes no time, jumping in right at the top of the tune. It’s a bit tough to pick out of the dissonant, bluesy context that D’Angelo sets up with the rest of his opening riff, but if you can isolate just those first two notes, you’ll have a perfectly handy minor sixth to memorize.

Harmonically, the “majorness” of the V chord is pretty weak, as you can barely hear the major third. And yet the harshness of the iiº chord in the intro is masked by the sweet flute-like tone. Lots of anomalies. Another anomaly is just how fast this song rose in the charts, and how even faster it then dropped, going from #5 to #60 to #91, and then who knows where.

Music technology grants

I love this quote from one of my favorite songwriters. Have you ever heard a song that captures exactly what you’re feeling? A song that makes you say, “YES! That’s exactly it, I just wasn’t able to express it myself!” Well, my friends, that’s one of the many joys of songwriting. So yes, you have a responsibility to help others with your words and melodies. Some days you might feel like you’re not helping anyone, but remember: The world needs the magic of music. And if musicians didn’t exist, we would never have that feeling of catharsis. And I don’t want to live in that world.

Ethan Hein is a Doctoral Fellow in Music Education at New York University. He teaches music technology, production and education at NYU and Montclair State University. With the NYU Music Experience Design Lab, Ethan has taken a leadership role in the creation of new technologies for learning and expression, most notably the Groove Pizza. He is the instructor of the free Soundfly course series called Theory for Producers. He maintains a widely-followed and influential blog, and has written for various publications, including Slate, Quartz, and NewMusicBox.