Beyonce’s ‘Break My Soul’ Music Theory Explained

Apart from the fact that the songs are in different keys and have different tempos, one can clearly observe that they use different melodic and harmonic structures. What they share in common are similar rhythmic syncopations at the start and end of each 2-bar phrase. Sonically, we can hear differences in timbre between the synth organ sounds in both songs, and that the “Show Me Love” organ has delay/echo effects, while the ” Break My Soul” is dry. With modern technology, it is possible to remove reverb and echo from a recording, to varying degrees depending on a range of variables, but it seems unlikely that Beyoncé, The-Dream, et al., went to all this trouble unnecessarily (since everyone has access to the Korg M1 “Organ 2” sound). So unless I’m missing something, I think we can reasonably conclude that “Break My Soul” didn’t sample anything from, or interpolate, “Show Me Love.” What seems clear is that Beyoncé’s song was pretty much inspired by Robin S.’ song in terms of feel and mood.

If so, why did “Show Me Love” writers Allen George and Fred McFarlane receive writing credit on “Break My Soul”? Were they actually involved in writing this new song, regardless of any connection to “Show Me Love”? I guess it was a preemptive move by Beyoncé and her co-workers to protect themselves from a potential copyright infringement lawsuit — however false. The atrocious “Blurred Lines” affair of a few years ago created a chilling effect on music creators: if a new song you recorded simply reminds people of another song because of a style or a common feeling – but not by copying a melody or chords or lyrics – there is now a real fear of legal action. On the plus side, by including the names of the songwriters of “Show Me Love” on Beyoncé’s song, Robin S. is enjoying a boost in interest in her music – which is well deserved. There’s real value in artists having their influences openly acknowledged, and we should commend Beyoncé and her team for helping to steer listeners toward music they might not otherwise have heard.

“I am looking for a new foundation…”

With “Break My Soul,” Beyoncé helps revive the four-on-the-floor house music that undoubtedly inspired her throughout her formative years in the ’90s…but songwriting-wise. , it’s not just a tribute. As with many of her songs over the past 20 years (including during her tenure with Destiny’s Child), Beyoncé and her collaborators employ surprising and daring harmonic choices that defy genre expectations and push the boundaries of the musical style in which she ostensibly operates. the fourth iteration of the chorus in “Break My Soul”, they introduce an EMaj7 (the VIMaj7) out of nowhere – an unexpected release of tension that comes near the end of the song – followed by an energizing bassline that’s part chromatic . It’s these sorts of smart, stylish choices that, in part, help set Beyoncé’s music apart from others operating in the same space.

As the final chapter in Beyoncé’s ongoing artistic evolution, the set Renaissance the album is worth checking out, if you haven’t already. Hope to see you soon on the dance floor.

Sharon D. Cole