You Can Get It if you Really Want (Jimmy Cliff)

Revision Cards for YCGIIYRW by Jimmy Cliff. Music AS Set work 2011

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  • Early reggae - Rocksteady
  • Jamaican, with Latin-American influences

- High trumpet parts - Mexico and Cuba

  • A hit in 1970
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Rhythm and Metre

  • Quadruple 4/4
  • Rocksteady "on-beat" bass
  • Backbeat on drums
  • Syncopation in upper parts
  • Triplets  in vocal parts
  • Drum fills
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Melody and Word-setting

  • Syllabic word-setting, except for melisnas at the ends of phrases
  • Use of the title hook (You can get it if you really want)
  • Melody is manily conjunct and has a narrow range.
  • The vocal melody moves by 3rds into a higher register
  • Major pentatonic is used (Db Eb Ab Gb Bb)
  • Lyrics reflect the struggle against poverty and oppression (characteristic of Reggae), but in this case are in the context of tuneful dance music
  • Close harmony backing vocals - a characteristic of 1950 doo-*** music (remained popular in Jamaica) - narrow range


  • Lead vocal stays within the range of a 6th, except for the falsetto notes at bars 25, 43 and 56
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  • Alternating chord I (Db) and IV (Gb) and with occasional V7 (Ab7) at the ends of verses and refrains
  • Unrelated chords (E at bar 37) in the instrumental

- Followed by a descent down the whole-tone scale in bar 39

  • Parallel chords at bar 40
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  • Key of Db throughout
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  • Verse and Chorus form:

-Intro: Bars 1-3

-Chorus: Bars 2-13

-Verse 1: Bars 14-25

-Chorus (repeat): Bars 26-13

-Verse 2: Bars 14-25

-Chorus: Bars 26-35

-Instrumental: Bars 36-43

-Chorus: Bars 44-53

-Outro: Bars 54-57

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Resources and Texture

  • Melody Dominated Homophony
  • Lead vocal, sometimes using falsetto notes
  • Backing vocals in two parts
  • Two Guitars - first as a rhythm instrument, semi-quaver picked patterns (calypso-like). Second provides chordal support with the organ.


  • Bass - prominent in the mix, centered on the root of each chord. Four note riff from bar 4 onwards. Different from reggae, which includes syncopation, and silent on the first beat of the bar
  • Reeds and Brass, including trumpets (sometimes in 3rds)
  • Organ
  • Drums - backbeat. Cross stick
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