Modal Interchange in Radiohead's "Creep"

Modal Interchange in Radiohead's "Creep"

Radiohead's "Creep" is a classic rock anthem that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. The song's simple yet powerful chord progression and lyrics have resonated with listeners for decades. In this blog post, we will explore the music theory concepts behind the chords in "Creep," with a particular focus on the two interesting chords of B and Cm.

The song is in the key of G major, and the chords used are G, B, C, and Cm. The use of the B chord is particularly interesting because it is a non-diatonic chord in the key of G major. In other words, it does not naturally belong in the G major scale. However, it fits seamlessly into the song's overall sound and adds a sense of tension and release.

One interpretation of the B major chord is that it is a borrowed chord from E harmonic minor. E minor is the relative minor of G major, and the E harmonic minor scale includes the B major chord. By borrowing this chord from a different key, Radiohead creates a surprising and shining effect that adds emotional depth to the song. Another interpretation of the B major chord is that it is a modal interchange of the diatonic Bm chord. By switching modes to major, it creates a similar positive and shiny feel like smiling through tears.

The other interesting chord in "Creep" is the Cm chord. This chord is a typical minor plagal cadence, in which the subdominant moves from a major chord to a minor chord. In other words, it is a kind of modal interchange moving from major to minor. This chord change has a defeated feel that fits perfectly with the heartbroken sentiment of the song's lyrics. The use of the minor subdominant chord creates a sense of sadness and vulnerability that resonates with listeners.

In conclusion, "Creep" is a masterful example of how music theory concepts can be used to create emotional depth and complexity in a song. The use of the non-diatonic B chord and the minor plagal cadence of Cm are just two examples of the many ways in which Radiohead crafted this iconic song. By understanding these music theory concepts, we can better appreciate the genius of "Creep" and the enduring appeal of Radiohead's music.