Bah buh bah bah bobbin’ is a song of discovery. Some songs feel like they are discovered as much as written. It’s almost like the song has always existed. As if, all the artist has to do is unfold a sheet of paper to read what’s on it. And why not, music is eternal and the universe is timeless.
There’s a unique feeling that comes with discovery. It feels like being yourself for the first time, again. That extraordinary feeling of being in the moment and witnessing the magic of everything. We’ve all experienced it before, but each time it feels new. Because it is.
Bah buh bah bah bobbin’ is a song for children. It celebrates the innocence and sense of discovery in a child’s love of life. It’s that sense of discovery that keeps life feeling new and wonderful. The song asks us to appreciate life and find new discoveries using music as much as lyrics.
Sheet music for Bah buh bah bah bobbin‘ will show it uses a confusing chord structure. This song has me a bit stumped about what key it is in. I would have thought the song to be in A Major, however, a heavy presence of F Major throughout leaves me feeling confused.
The song starts off with a heavily rhythmic verse in A Major, sliding in from C# to D, and bouncing on A. The lyrics are almost nonsensical, “I’ve been a bah buh bah bah bobbin…”. However, the sudden drop to F# Major is unexpected, and the lyric makes it personal “…since I met you.” A Major would typically have its root note (A) be the same note as the minor third of F#. This would make the F# a minor. However, the song forces the ear to recognize the b-flat of the F# Major instead, right after learning we were in A.
This half-step up from the root catches the ear and expects a resolution. Resolution will have to wait, as the song slides up another half-step to G Major. The music almost seems to be trying to make a musical point. As a listener I’m not sure where we are. My ear tries to hook onto the repeating sounds of the lyrics to look for understanding.
The staccato rhythms of the verse contrast the flowing open chords of the chorus. The chorus starts with open A Major and D Major chords that jangle in a way that sounds inappropriately happy, after the strange b-flat/A unification we were exposed to right at the start of the song. The voice sings C# (bouncing to E) and lands on D for the the lyrics, “You’ve got the bestest loving.” The chords repeat “You’ve gives the bestest hugging.” When the chords change to G and D, the voice sings D to A “I know every thing will be alright”. Now we have a jarring G# sliding to A, three times before climbing B and C# to be sure we are solidly back on track, in the key of A Major.
Instead of musical resolution the song Bah buh bah bah bobbin’ returns to the verse, repeating the lyrics, and driving that F# Major further into our brains. It wants to be resolved.
After the second verse comes the third part, what some people refer to as a bridge. And, I suppose in this song that’s what this third part does. The song has gone through the verse to chorus and back again with no answer about that F#. It’s time to embrace the F# and hope for a way to bring us back to the rest of the song so that it works musically to the ear. We take that leap of faith and make the dramatic key change to F# without any third. Still, the voice does not shy away from b-flat while the words sing, “Some people never see…”.
The guitar chords ascend to B, slides to A# and back to B, before diving into A and G# to settle back on the F# “…the sunny side of the blues”. These notes step all over the question of whether it’s F# Major or a minor. The music repeats with lyrics, “All they do is talk about all the many ways that they lose”. The strumming builds on the F#, then reveals the b-flat declaring we are using F# Major, which kind of feels like a key change. The lyrics, “But you are a step apart…” has the music rise to G Major, another key change. When the lyrics sing, “You can’t wait to start each day and play” the key changes again to land back on A.
Return to Chorus
We find we are back at the chorus, this time with a feeling of being uplifted. It’s the same chorus as before, but whereas earlier it felt almost bland, this time it feels aspirational. The music forces the ear to reconsider the entire context of chords, and the lyrics as well. This time we know the words, yet it sounds like hearing them anew, like a child’s perspective, like a new view on life.
A New View On Life
That’s something I really appreciate about art. Seeing things in a new way. The change of perspective evident within a work. A transformation made accessible to the audience, should they wish to receive it. Bah buh bah bah bobbin’ utilizes key changes to create an emotional sense of transformation, by building on tensions and seeking common connections (notes), even if different emotionally.
A sense of transformation can feel unique and awe inspiring. Perhaps the same feeling a child might have. With this new perspective the lyrics carry on cheerfully to the end of the song, returning to the verse, where the singer exclaims how happy they are now that you are here.