Dee – Randy Rhoads

Dee appears on Ozzy Osbourne’s 1980 album, Blizzard of Ozz.

It was written and recorded by Ozzy’s then guitarist, Randy Rhoads.

Dee is only 0:50 seconds in length and is written for the classical guitar. On the recording it is doubled by a steel string acoustic guitar. The tune is in 3/4. It’s phrasing is variable which gives it a semi improvisational feel, although there are motivic and rhythmic elements which add cohesion to the work.

Dee can be divided into two sections:

0:00 – 0:27 – is in the key D major but sounds transitory. It does, however, finish on the dominant of D major
0:27 – 0:50 – is in the key of D major.

Section one:

The first section begins with a decorated perfect cadence in D major (IV – V – I: G – A – D).

Bars 1-2

Because the root of the dominant is heard only very briefly at the end of bar 1 and isn’t accompanied by its third, fifth or seventh (C sharp – E – G), it lacks a strong cadential pull towards the tonic in bar 2.

The sixth degree added to the D major chord in bars two and three gives the tonic a certain ambiguity – could it in fact be a B minor seventh chord?

D – F sharp – A – B = D6

B – D – F sharp – A = Bm7
This ambiguity is enhanced by the B minor chord in bar 4.

Bars 1-4

Bars 2-4 sound minor; however, after proceeding through G/B and A/C sharp chords (IV -V) in bars 4-7, in bars 8 and 9 the opening cadence, this time simplified to a plagal cadence (IV – I: G – D), is used. The key of D major is felt in the following bars, albeit without being definitively confirmed as all instances of the tonic triad are in first inversion.

Bars 8-9

At 0:19 a vi – ii – V progression (Bm – Em – A) in D major begins. Instead of using the submediant minor chord (Bm), however, Rhoads uses a B dominant seventh chord, the secondary dominant of Em.

The E minor supertonic is then altered, becoming an E dominant seventh chord; the dominant of the dominant of D major. The dominant of D major closes the first section at 0:27.

Bars 16-21

The use of the plagal cadence, ambiguous sounding tonic sixth chord followed by B minor, use of the first inversion tonic chord, and secondary dominants in the closing bars of this section give it a transitory quality.

Section two:

Section two sounds firmly in the key of D major. Strong progressions in D major, using all diatonic chords, along with the use of root position tonic chords and repeated use of the dominant and tonic all anchor this section in D major.

 

As with many classical guitar pieces, most of Dee’s melody is created using chord shapes as its basis. This basis is then decorated as required using various non-harmony notes. Looking again at bars 1-7, the whole melody, except for three notes, is derived from chord shapes.

Bars 1-7

The three notes are neighbour notes, two of which are incomplete neighbours.

Neighbour etc

Bars 8-11 are created by a series of descending thirds. The thirds form a linear intervallic progression which moves between the G major chord (IV) in bar 8 and the E minor chord (ii) in bar 12 (not shown in example).

Bars 8-11

The use of intervallic thirds (dyads) to imply different harmonies is another feature common to classical, and finger-style guitar. It can occur between the root and third of a chord (bar 8), between the third and fifth (bar 9), or the fifth and seventh of a seventh chord (bar 10).

Bars 8-11 chord tones

The chords can also be changed from major to minor or minor to major simply by altering the third of the triad.

Maj and min

There are several elements which add cohesion to Dee:

The use of harmonics at the beginning, end of the first section and to complete the tune is a means of connecting three points of the work; it also connects the initial D6 chord (bar 2) with the final chord – also D6.

Leaping between different chord notes in a bar can be heard as a motivic element which Rhoads uses consistently, often in decorated guises, throughout Dee.

Decorated leap

It is this motif’s versatility, allowing it to be altered while retaining its basic character, which makes it an effective cohesive element without becoming repetitive or boring. The motif’s rhythm – the dotted half note in the ‘bass’ with variations of three quarter notes above – also contributes to its cohesive character.

Techniques and concepts used in Dee:

  • Chordal ambiguity
  • Secondary dominants
  • Transitory progressions
  • Chord shapes as a melodic basis
  • Neighbour notes
  • Linear Intervallic Progressions
  • Harmony implied by thirds
  • Cohesion across a work

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