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Childish Gambino

I’ve listened to Childish Gambino’s recently released because the internet several times over the last two weeks, and one track that stands out for me is “flight of the navigator”. The harmonies as well as the vocals really get to me.

The first 48 seconds contain an alternation between the two chords F#M7 and EM7, each of which get two measures. From 0:48 til the end of the nearly six-minute song, this chord progression repeats (each chord getting one measure):

AM7 / F#m / G#m / C#m

Both of these progressions appeal to me because of their impressionistic stasis, with the one exception being the move from G#m to C#m at the end of the second progression, where we get this one satisfyingly “final” sounding interval (the fourth up/fifth down from G# to C#). But for the most part we get to sort of float around in the music, which goes along with the dreamscape lyrics. I also like his use of major seventh chords, which add to the major chord this bittersweet dissonance between the root and the fourth note of the chord (e.g., A-C#-E-G#).

The vocals progress from distortion to clarity, with the opening spoken-word section highly distorted, becoming clearer but still grainy-sounding at 1:37, then at 3:36 much clearer and closer as his voice soars in shapely contours.

Check out my clumsy attempt at demonstrating the guitar chords here.

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