Understanding Pink Floyd’s “Money”


hey welcome to 12tone! back in 2017, we did
a video about Comfortably Numb that, statistically speaking, everyone watching this video has
probably already seen. but Pink Floyd is one of those bands that
continued to grow, experiment, and change a lot over their career, so I thought it’d
be good to look at another one of their biggest hits from a different era, maybe something
off their best-selling album, Dark Side Of The Moon. and what better song to grab off
that album than their sarcastic send-up of materialism, Money. normally this is where I’d play you a recreation
of the intro, but Money doesn’t actually start with music: it starts with a cash register. this is an example of what’s called an organic
loop, where non-musical sounds are put together in a musical context, creating a sort of musicality
of the mundane. it’s a great way to communicate very specific
concepts: like, yes, you could try to write music that makes your listener think of money,
but you’d be hard-pressed to find something that does it better than the sound of jingling
coins, so why not just use that? in fact, I’ve heard it claimed that Money was the first
ever use of an organic loop in popular music, which is a very hard claim to verify, but
whether or not it was literally the first, it was definitely an early pioneer. after a little bit, the bass comes in, playing
the riff that pretty much defines this song: (bang) there’s a lot to look at here, but
let’s start with the most obvious: there’s only 7 beats. most music we listen to breaks up into chunks
of either 3 or 4, so using a number as complex as 7 instead makes the music feel almost lopsided,
like its pieces don’t quite fit together neatly. but Money does a really clever thing with
this: it introduces the 7-beat pattern in the organic loop, before you’re actually listening
for a sense of metric hierarchy, so you just get used to this pattern of 7 sounds, and
by the time the bass slides in we’re already familiar with the structure. in this case, the riff mostly breaks up into
groups of 3. in the first group, we start on a low B, jump up to a high B, then walk
back down to the low B, stopping at F# along the way. this outlines a B power chord, telling us
what the root is without giving us much information on the overall tonality. after that we jump down to a low F#, then
walk up through A back to B. at this point, we’ve completed 6 of our 7 beats and so far
we’re mostly just playing roots and 5ths. the A tells us we’re probably in B minor,
but its position in the walk-up means it doesn’t really stand out melodically. if this riff
was only 6 beats long, I think it’d be pretty boring. check it out: (bang) fortunately, though,
that’s not what happens: right when we think we’re done, the riff turns around, drops back
to A, then suddenly leaps up to D, the minor 3rd. it’s a new note, probably the most interesting
one here, and it’s positioned on a beat that exists outside of the overall metric structure,
giving every bar its own little twist ending. it’s such a good payoff, tying the whole riff
together perfectly, and it’s the reason why Waters can get away with playing it over and
over, with very few interruptions, for the first three minutes of the song. it does change a couple times, though. the first is subtle, and comes with the vocals.
when Gilmour sings the “you get a good job” line, Waters switches things up and plays
this. (bang) it’s basically the same thing, but
he’s swapped the high B for a D in order to match the melody. Gilmour, though, doesn’t quite return the
favor: when we get to the end of the riff, where Waters plays a D again, Gilmour overshoots
it and sings an E instead, creating a sort of tension that implies that maybe, just maybe,
he might not be entirely sincere in his assertion that, and I quote, “you’re ok”. this line also does some fun stuff with the
rhythm. if you look at how Gilmour sings “you get
a good job”, the accents fall on the words “get” and “job”, but if we look at the bass
part, the downbeat actually happens while he’s singing “good”, which gets almost no
emphasis at all. this almost gives the sense that we’ve changed time signatures, and makes
this section pretty difficult to count if you don’t know what’s going on, but really
the vocals are just singing with a different pattern of accents than everyone else. it’s a cool, kinda disorienting effect. eventually the time signature does change,
though, when the bass plays this: (bang) here, we’ve switched to the much more common time
signature of 4/4. sort of. actually, there’s half a bar missing here,
which means in total this section is 14 quarter notes long, so we could technically still
write it in 7/4, but if we look at it like that the accent pattern is complete chaos,
so I think most people will feel this as a metric shift. on notes, though, this is pretty interesting:
they start by outlining F# minor, then E minor. in the key of B, these are the V and IV chords,
and walking from V to IV and then back to I is a pretty classic Blues move. it gives you a sense of the tonality without
actually creating a strong sense of resolution, because Blues songs aren’t really big on letting
you rest. the only note that really stands out to me
here is this F natural, which isn’t in the key, but it’s just serving as a passing note
between the roots of the two chords, which is another common feature of the Blues. that’s basically all that happens until the
saxophone solo, which starts over the bass riff but then moves to this: (bang) which
is just the same riff but built around E instead. again, E is the IV chord, and here it’s providing
a sort of reprieve from the endless B minor, giving the soloist another harmonic landscape
to explore. inserting the IV chord to break up a long
run of I chords is yet another Blues move. after the sax solo comes the guitar solo,
where things… change. a lot. for starters, we’re back to 4/4. and
not, like, a weird, sneaky 4/4 where we sometimes lose track of half a bar. no, this is just straight-up common time. the section is built on top of three main
bass riffs, this one: (bang) which outlines B minor, this one: (bang) outlining E minor,
and this one (bang) outlining F# minor. each of these riffs is built around a descending
half-step line, which makes it feel like we’re just constantly falling. interpret that symbolism however you want. anyway the way these riffs are put together
is… ok, you know how I’ve been pointing out that various parts of this song are references
to the Blues? well, this section is more than just a reference,
it’s a straight-up Blues form. specifically, it’s a variation of the 12-bar
blues pattern, which is four bars of the I chord, two bars of IV, two bars of I, then
V, IV, I, I, lather, rinse, repeat. this version, though, makes two big changes
to that structure. first, it doubles the length, so we’ve got
8 bars of I, four bars of IV, and so on, making it technically a 24-bar blues. the other change is that instead of this IV
chord near the end, the whole band comes together to play this: (bang) which is just a big,
dramatic walk down the minor scale, with an extra note added in at the end in order to
make it all fit properly. this is reminiscent of a device called a turnaround,
where the final bar of a 12-bar Blues is replaced with something big and loud in order to emphasize
the return to the beginning, but in Money they hit that turnaround early, so after it’s
done we still have four more bars before the pattern actually repeats. I’m not entirely sure why: my best guess is
just that the transition from the F# riff to the E riff doesn’t sound great ’cause the
first one ends on an E already, so slapping the turnaround over the E chord avoids that
awkward move. that’s not a great explanation, though, so
if you have a better guess please let me know. I want to take a second, though, to acknowledge
how appropriate it is that this song borrows so heavily from the Blues. a lot of Blues songs are either directly or
indirectly about the struggles of poverty, so using those forms in a song that sarcastically
praises the relentless pursuit of profit results in a pretty scathing critique. it’s a clever use of the musical vocabulary
in order to make a point through association. anyway, they play through the 12-bar pattern
3 times, and in order to make it work for that long, they need to play with dynamics.
in the first section, everything’s big and loud, the drums are crashing through, and
the guitars are soaked in reverb. for the second time, though, that all changes: the
drums switch to mostly just high hats, and the guitars lose most of their effects, taking
on a much drier tone. this makes it feel calmer, quieter, and more
intimate, which they maintain until that big walk-down, setting up the third time through
where everything is big and crashy again. the solo itself is also interesting: it sounds
like a guitar duel, but as far as I can tell Gilmour played all the guitar parts, so he’s
kinda just battling with himself. it’s a neat effect. and that’s pretty much it. after that we go back to the main bass riff,
play through those sections a few more times, then end with this (bang) which is just the
last bit of the riff looped forever until it fades out, ’cause the pursuit of money
never actually ends. or something. who knows? before we go, though, I have a quick announcement:
I’m gonna be taking July off this year, so in order to make sure I’m still publishing,
I’ll be hosting some guest videos, and I’m looking for guests. so if you make educational videos of any kind,
even if your stuff’s not music-related, I made a video over on my side channel with
more information on how that’s gonna work. I also talked a bit about why I’m doing this,
so if you’re just curious about that, you can go check it out too. link, as always, in the description. oh, also, go subscribe to my side channel!
it’s called 19tone and right now I’m using it mostly for announcements so the youtube
algorithm doesn’t punish me for making them, but I have some plans for more experimental
content that will hopefully go up there at some point. and hey, thanks for watching! this song was
chosen by my patrons over on Patreon, so if you want to help pick the next song we analyze
just head on over to Patreon and pledge at any level! you can also join our mailing list
to find out about new episodes, like, share, comment, subscribe, and above all, keep on
rockin’.

100 thoughts on “Understanding Pink Floyd’s “Money”

  1. On the riff, some people are commenting that there's no A before the D, so I figured I should clarify: I'm fairly certain there is, but the MIDI example does overemphasize it. It's a ghost note, created through a muted pull-off from the B to an open-string A, and it fluctuates in presence so it's not always there, but I'd say most statements of the riff include it to some degree, and to my ears it feels incomplete without it. (If you're curious what it sounds like, I isolated an example of it over on twitter: https://twitter.com/12tonevideos/status/1092833670199631873 ) It's hard to do really subtle notes in MIDI, though, so the version I played makes it sound like a full note and that's not entirely accurate either. Sorry about that!

  2. When I clicked on this, I expected a little lyric analysis. What I got was extreme mind fuckery. Still, no regrets.

  3. I secretly believe they wrote it in 7/4 on purpose bc the number 7 is often said to be the "number of God". Anybody else ever ponder that?

  4. I'm musical and play piano and guitar but I cannot read sheet music (I've tried to learn but some sort of dyslexia prevents me from being able to use it), so I find time signatures sort of confusing. As long as the "official" time signature is a prime number of beats such as 2/4, 3/4 5/4 and 7/4 etc. I generally agree with the music theory. And I accept that even though 4/4 is just two times 2/4; I understand that just two beats is a bit short to create a pattern; but even then most 4/4 music has some elements that is very neatly just a 2 beat cycle.
    But while I can feel the rhythm of most songs and usually play along no matter what the time signature officially is: I find it really hard to identify the signature unless it's a very obvious 2, 3, 4, beat pattern. If someone say it's some signature with more beats than I have available fingers to tap it out (no way I'm able to literally count at a steady pace while listening to music) I will usually feel it as a repeating pattern of smaller numbers of beats, so if it's say 8/4 I hear it as an pattern of two 4 beat segments alternating rather than as one 8 beat segment; or even looping a pattern of four 2-beat segments.
    I have a hard time hearing it when something is described as a very large number of beats or even weirder of changing length every time, like 3+4 etc; to me it just feels like a either a 4 beat or 3 beat with a slightly "bent" or "swung" rhythm or something. While I can hear that Money has a 7 beat pattern, it also somewhat sounds more like a 8 beat pattern where it hurries up on 3 and 4 like a slightly off center wheel rolling. If I force myself to count mechanically steady; it feels more like 3 + 4 than 7.

    But usually I hear lots of different signatures depending on what instruments I focus on. Even superficially very obvious and simple signatures like "King of emotion" by Big Country; that even starts with someone literally counting "One (pause) Two (pause), One two three four!" which suggests a standard 4/4 signature assuming the second counting is in quarter notes. But still the percussion has both a 2/4 component and a 8/8 component. The melody feels like it's made up of "sentences" that are 8/4 long but even though they're all delayed with a 8th note after the initial beat. And each "verse" or part of the melody is consists of 2 or 4 pairs of sentences each 8/4 long bits of melody that are similar but slightly different; like a "question" and an "answer" conversation. But between the verses/parts there are drum fills that are only 2/4 long that makes it feel like 2/4 is the actual signature (unless I'm supposed to hear it as every other segment between the fills being syncopated with half a bar somehow).

    My point is time signatures seems to me to be mostly a matter of perspective and the idea that a song has a "definitive" time signature seems more an artifact of the conventions of sheet music rather than an actual truth that is in the real music. Or am I wrong, is there anything (besides what the sheet music sais) that definitely proves that only one of the several multiples or subdivisions of 2 that I can hear in the same song is the "correct" one?

  5. You have an amazing grasp of musical knowledge. Thank you for the incredible videos. You have helped my understanding of music and also my playing. Thank you so much.

  6. Interesting that you notated the bass line with a pair of 8th notes on beat six because if Roger plays that, it is the exception rather than the rule from what I hear.

    The "turnaround" I always counted as 8/4 +6/4 which, as you point out, equals 14 which is twice seven, but what makes it unusual is that it divides it differently so one measure is beat longer and the next a beat shorter.

    What about the guitar chords and keyboard parts?

  7. Does bird song count as organic Because 1968 Steppenwolf song “disappointment number” begins with it ? I’m not sure if it’s a loop tho.

  8. Obligatory drug comment, but first time I ever did shrooms, I closed my eyes and laid down, and during my peak I started to hear money. Well about halfway through the first verse the song stopped on a single note and just went higher and higher. On top of this I saw lots of flashing colors and slot machines, people drinking and boats, anytime I'd yawn it sounded like a race car. Almost as if the video itself was playing in front of me. Weird but something I felt like sharing

  9. the demo was composed by Roger but without Gilmour the song will never be better and more melodic, this is why Pink Floyd are all the whole members, and we don't forget Rick who compoosed Use and them and Great GiG IN the Sky……

  10. The turnaround comes one measure early so as to parallel how a 7/8 tempo seems to repeat one beat early. What better way to emphasize the 7/8 feel than to put the turnaround itself one measure early? And it sure seems in line with Pink Floyd's design ethos to mirror a central thematic element on the macroscopic scale like that.

  11. Meters of actual analog tape sections taped together and running outside the reel machine across the room and around a mic stand and back to the machine.

  12. The turnaround during the guitar solo is played four bars early, and the pattern is continued for 4 more bars before moving into the quieter part of the solo before it explodes again.

  13. Minor disagreement, the first section you say is in 4 doesn't feel like 4 to me. The main 7 riff sub divides into 3 then 4. When he sings new car caviar, instead of breaking into 3, 4, 3, 4 it breaks into 3, 5, 2, 4. This feels too me like a syncopation on the 7/4 pattern, not a sudden 4/4 section.

  14. Have you done anything on how music elicits emotion? Why is it that certain melodies make people cry? And maybe how cultural and personal that may be? Even gendered? Here are some songs that get me, and I don't want to listen to them to much because I don't want to lose the emotional response: Sufjan Stevens: Great God Bird; Peter Gabriel, Mercy Street, Ben Howard, Conrad, and Gregory Alan Isakov, Stable Song

    I've also noticed that the several channels that do this kind of analysis seem to stay way from folk, even progressive folk, and oh my god, look at bluegrass!!!!!!! Playing creatively and skillfully within extremely tight rules.

  15. that turnaround fits the wizard of Oz timing. remember it is a soundtrack to the first section of colored motion pictures hence the titled money because the men who made technicolor got rich.

  16. That b minor sounded a lot like the song preceding it. Like, and I’m just going by memory, the opening note.

  17. Now I thought we were supposed to discuss sequencing as if they were in a major key, but you're calling the Bm the 1 chord. Shouldn't the D be the 1 chord?

  18. Could you please do "great gig in the sky" it somehow starts in B minor and ends in Bb seemingly without any tension in the song, it's amazing.

  19. Here's my answer (TO THE TURN( around; It's called ("Profit") Get it?!" lol profit!" IN A song called Money with a little extra for yourself." Suck it Roger!" Just kidding it's just Water under the Bridge!"? haha get it^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^ ^ ^ ^You can't have one without the other So, which one is Pink??/ and whats the missing letter

  20. I clicked on this video thinking it would be interesting, until I saw that paper with the notes and the drawings. I remember that I've watched multiple videos before not understanding a word you say.

    Still gonna watch it though. Tell me about them diminished chords and the Lydian scales and whatever the f*ck I'm not understanding.

  21. Back when PF was first writing up this tune, I don't think they were thinking how you explained it.
    More likely, "Woo, this sounds good, let's do it."

  22. One of these days Ima gonna undersrand what you are sayin
    I listen to this song on repeat in the car some days.
    Can you do the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever?"

  23. Analyze Napalm Death’s “You Suffer"
    Can you do the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever?"
    The internet has the ability to bring to the surface some great teachers… Thanks for the lesson.

  24. As a composer I realized, that if you have a "cut" (especially with a change of time signature) it helps to let the audience wait for the new theme, also if it was already there: When you hear confusion, when you can't handle something, you wait for clairity. If then the new theme comes and you understand it (no more confusion), you grab it unconsciously much harder. So you feel no cut in the song, now it goes on much more fluently.
    Maybe that's why Pink Floyd used this Effect, but your idea is also quite reasonable…

  25. although this song has a strong message, i honestly don't think they went this deep when actually composing the song. still very interesting though

  26. I think that the dramatic walk down the scale coming too early might be something metaphorical rather than musical, something like celebrating a job well done before you finish working. Like the "just one more ____" mentality of jobs in general.

  27. I actually picked this song as a vernacular song to analyze in my college music appreciation course. I definitely didn't analyze it to this detail but the whole starting in 7/4 time was a big point just because you almost never hear anything besides 2, 3 and 4 time with the occasional 5/4 even in art music, let alone vernacular.

  28. Other ideas for "organic loops" – Giuseppe Verdi's The Anvil Chorus (1853)… nothing else will quite give you the sound or feel of blacksmithing, or generally hard work, as a real steel hammer striking an anvil at regular intervals. Anyone else have ideas from before or after Pink Floyd's "Money?"

  29. 5:50 actually the sax solo too is built on a blues progression. If you listen carefully to any of these old pink floyd songs they used and abused off this progression, often stretching it out to fill 24 or even 48 bars, and changing the turn-around to something that fits the song.
    Shine on you Crazy Diamond for example is essentially a blues, with just the 2 verses jammed in. If you listen carefully, they never get out of the blues progression except for playing the verse or changing the turnaround a bit.

  30. This song is wonderful!

    Pink Floyd have already passed into the history of great world music …..

    and playing their compositions is like playing Mozart or Brahms ….. great emotions!

    BRAVOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!

    Millions of musicians played and sang this magnetic song!

    This rock/blues is 45 years old…….unbelievable !

    We also arranged Money and my students are "my band"!!!!

    They are 12/13 years old….! In January 2018 I told my little students to study and play Money.

    When I played the first notes they went CRAZY!!!!

    My little musicians really feel that sound when they play this timeless song,

    [ It's nice to see new generation guys playing these rock masterpieces! ]

    Our Italian public secondary school is in Rome, near COLOSSEUM.

    Would you like to watch our video and listen to our cover ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOOMEutcjcU

    In our school each class becomes a rock, blues band !

    Please ""POST a comment"" on our page, it would be important for my guys!

    I think YOUTUBE is a great opportunity to exchange artistic and educational experiences!

    A big hug from Rome – Italy

    [[ This our link channel….. there are many covers….

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCag81us91-fCwxuXsD8On0Q ]]

  31. I heard Gilmore say that thank god Waters chaned it to 4/4 for the solo. And, I love the trasition with Mason banging out the string of 1/8 notes to resync the time.

    "Dark Side of the Moon" is my favorite albulm, with Moody Blues "Days of Future Past" a close second. I miss the days of albulms, instead of single song releases.

  32. The theme to Are You Being Served? starts with cash register percussion and was first aired in September 1972, the year before Money was released. Always assumed one copied the other, but didn’t realise they came out so close together.

  33. Hello ! on the solo, bars 19 and 20, if you play a Em over the 'ealry turnaround' as you call it, it's fits perfect. the bass line makes believe you are in B- but actually it fits on a E- ( the 3thd note of the bass at the 19th bar is a G, insisting as the minor third note of the Em. And so, you have to consider the B bass note of the phrase as the 5th of the Em . Rock and roll way…). the 4 last bars are killing the traditional turnaround in blues, in a very resting way (B- tonic chord), like in old traditional blues. — Bravo 12tone love your channel. (sorry for my bad english I'm french)

  34. no mention of the right speaker and left speaker in the beginning working kinda in sync unlike most other music right?

  35. I learned 12-bar blues as ending with V-IV-I-V, with the second V as big and loud as possible before going back to the I at the start of the next 12 bars. Have I been doing it wrong all this time?

  36. Great analysis of a song I've heard and informally analyzed countless times myself. But you didn't address the one thing that I am always fixated on with this song: the tempo. They're not playing to a click, and over the course of the song it gets faster… and faster… and faster… so gradually that you scarcely even notice it. I've never quite been able to reconcile whether that was just the nature of playing live in-studio, or whether it was deliberate. (Given the symbolic implications of the many aspects of the song you analyzed here, I can easily see it being intentional… but my gut tells me it just happened.)

  37. I'd heard that it was always meant to be 4/4 but when they took the loop from the money, they'd cut it in such a way that it went 7/4. Similar to how the loop in the original terminator soundtrack failed.

    But they liked the idea and built the song around it (unlike the terminator original composer who appearently didn't notice his mistake, which is why the melody is so halting and changes so many times…the composer literally had no idea why he was losing beats, and just held the final note of each phrase until the next downbeat.)

    It's sort of fun to see talented musicians and…less talented musicians handle the same mistake.

  38. The cash register was taken from the opening theme from the 70s uk sitcom “Are you being served” …… check it out. Just a little fun fact for all you Pink Floyd buffs ⚒

  39. No musician thinks out their music like this. It just appears to them in their head or comes from a moment of inspiration

  40. That's a lot of Sharpie my friend, don't inhale it and get a headache. Be careful. You don't want to damage your brain cells.

  41. Mr. Schoenberg, are you not mistaken in thinking this piece is in 7/4 meter? Is it not in 7/8 where we find the second and third notes of the bass line sounding as if they are swung, implying they are the 1st 8th note and 3rd 8th note of the 2nd beat? Also the melody signs, "Mo-ney" hitting the 1st and 3rd eighth notes of the first beat of that measure? I have a hard time feeling the even 8th notes of 7/4 in this piece as opposed to the triple 8th note feel of 7/8?

  42. 1. It's a blue song and really nothing more
    2. It's badly palyed blue song cos Waters wasn't really sure what he wanted to achieve, he just played that blue pattern and while repeating the notes he did it occasionally wrong.

    Whole mystery

  43. 0:54 Well, I mean Time, On the Run and Speak to me all were before Money on the album that also uses Organic Loops so, i mean it wouldn’t be the first unless the song was released as a single beforehand

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