Pop-Rock School: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Intro

Piano version of one of the most unique and harmonically fascinating keyboard parts in rock history…

…composed and constructed by Pete Townshend using some very inventive harmonic interplay along with some electronic wizardry in the studio.

Watch Frank Play on the Piano…

Frank’s Transcription…

Note: The score for the entire piece is available for a donation to the website.

Study-Practice-Performance Notes

  • Technically, a fabulous etude in medium tempo repeated chords.
  • Rhythmically, a relentless barrage of eighth notes.
  • Compositionally, a great example of patterns not easily explained by conventional theory.
  • Melodically, the right hand is an exploration of an A major penta-chord.
  • Harmonically, an enduring pedal point on A clearly establishes this in the key of A. The notes C# and G suggest a mixolydian flavor (thus the key signature of two sharps). The last few bars are unambiguously Mixolydian (the workhorse I-bVII-IV chord progression).

Is anyone interested in a how-to video demonstrating the technique and choreography for playing this with freedom and ease? Comment below!

learn more… Pop-Rock School

6 responses to “Pop-Rock School: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Intro”

  1. This would take quite a bit to play; so congrats on reconstructing it.

    It was actually played by passing an organ through a low frequency oscillator (LFO) set as a square wave opening and closing the filter as a gate to achieve the 8th notes. Pete Townsend then only needed to play the chord structured and the LFO took care of the rest.

    1. Thanks for the words of appreciation, Paul… and for sharing your insider knowledge regarding this important piece of rock music history.

  2. Thanks for this interesting discussion on the chords. Pete actually used a VCS3 synth (I remember using them back in the 70s myself) to process an organ sound. Paul was nearly correct – the sound was processed by passing it through a VCA which was modulated by a low frequency square wave to create that hard tremolo effect where the sound is switched on and off – thus saving all those 8th notes being played. It was then passed through a VCF configured as band-pass filter and its resonant frequency was swept up and down using another LFO probably set to a triangle wave. Just about any modern synth can do this easily. A Matrix Brute for example can easily process an organ sound like this or a polysynth like the Novation Peak or Summit will can also produce the organ sound and process it all in one instrument.

    1. Thanks a million for sharing your knowledge of the electronic wizardry, Dave. If I was younger, I’d invest some time and energy in studying sound synthesis. Alas, I already have my hands full trying to get good on just the piano. All the best to you in music and life. Cheers!

  3. Hi! I just set up a monthly donation. I’m wondering how to download a copy of your transcription of Won’t Get Fooled Again. Thanks for enlightening me! And thank you for assembling such a fantastic site!

    1. Thanks so much for the words of appreciation and your donation, John. I just sent the score (and midi file) for the entire piece to your email. Enjoy!

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