The chord that makes Christmas music sound so Christmassy

The chord that makes Christmas music sound so Christmassy

If you walk around a shopping mall, turn on
the radio, or go to a coffee shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas you’re gonna
hear this song. I don’t want a lot for Christmas That’s Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit “All
I want for Christmas Is You.” It’s one of the most often played Christmas
songs ever. And it happens to be one of the only Christmas
songs written in the last 20 years that has reached the same popularity of the American
Christmas standards that came before it. So, here’s a question: What makes Mariah
Carey’s song sound so incredibly… Christmassy? … aside from those sleigh bells. One of the greatest Christmas albums of all
time is A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. It was originally released in 1963 to little
fanfare but then it was reissued in 1972. At that point it instantly became a classic. And if you look at Mariah Carey’s song it
is a direct style study of that 1972 Phil Spector Christmas album. The arrangement is just down to a tee. That’s Adam Regusea. He teaches journalism at Mercer University
but studied music and composition. Most directly she’s trying to imitate a
song titled “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” You can hear that so very clearly in how the
intro of both songs are structured. Christmas! Snow’s coming down! I don’t want a lot for Christmas But, if you look a little bit deeper into
Mariah Carey’s song you’ll see another link. One to the best selling song of all time:
1942’s “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin performed by Bing Crosby. And to find that similarity you’ve got to
look at the chords. It’s all in the chords. A chord is 3 or more notes played together. “Christmas (Baby please come home)” that
Phil Spector song, I think that only has 4 chords in it. It’s a 4 chord rock song. There’s a lot more variety of chords used
in “All I want for Christmas is You” and they harken back to a time when popular music
was largely informed by Jazz. A Jazz standard might have 9 different chords
in it and chords of lots of different kinds and flavors. Not just majors and minors but diminished
and augmented and 7ths and 9ths and all that kind of stuff. And there is one very special chord in Mariah
Carey’s song that gives it such a classic sound. It’s no coincidence that that very chord
is also played in “White Christmas.” So this is not going to sound great, I’m
playing it off my iphone. We’re putting both songs in the key of C
for comparison. So Carey starts on a tonic chord. A home chord. Chord one. “I don’t want a lot for Christmas” One seven. “There’s just one thing I need” Four chord. Subdominant chord. “I don’t care about the presents” And here’s the special chord.You could call
it a diminished two seven chord? “Underneath the Christmas tree” “I just want you for my own” So the effect is going from a dominant chord
and kind of melting into this delicious spicy warm little diminished chord. Now if we were to compare that to Irving Berlin’s
“White Christmas” we see an incredibly similar progression culminating that very
very special chord. Irving Berlin starts this phrase with a tonic
chord “Where the tree tops glisten and children
listen” There’s that special chord. “To hear sleigh bells in the snow”
To me the right word is just melting. You know it’s like snow melting by the fire. it’s these Jazzy chords that give Mariah
Carey’s song that kind of classic early 20th century Christmas Jazzy sound. And it’s just the most Christmassy sound in
the world. I don’t know why.

100 thoughts on “The chord that makes Christmas music sound so Christmassy

  1. Christmas music has 2 flavors, nostalgic old fashioned music, and choir music. Both mix to form a feeling of cosy times with the family and the mystic feeling from the religious aspect.

  2. It's Christmassy because it's in a Christmas song. If the same chord progression was played in a Thanksgiving song, you would say it was Thanksgivingy

  3. No one knows the secret chord except David.
    David played a secret chord and it pleased the Lord.
    But you don't really care for music do ya ?

  4. I remember when that song and the video came out almost 25 years ago. Many, many artists were doing Christmas records that were forgettable, but there was something about this one that just sounded like she got it right.

  5. Many times one just hears it performed with an f minor triad rather than the d min 7, changing the root to just keeping an F.

  6. So, your opinion is the songs special chord and not the lyrics is the reason for it’s success. Sounds awfully subjective to me.

  7. That chord is used the II half-diminished 7 chord, and it's used in quite a wide variety of songs and pieces that have nothing to do with Christmas. It's very commonly found written in first inversion, as II half-diminished 6/5. Not really a secret, nor is it exclusively for Christmas

  8. As a piano player i find it wierd how most people here have no idea what a chord even is

    Also i find Cmaj7 in the first position relaxing 😌

  9. There is no secret chord and it doesn't sound Christmassy. Diminished seventh chords appear in Western harmony all the time – all the great composers' works after about 1700 feature them. This chord happened to appear in two successful Christmas songs.

  10. I don’t like Christmas music.
    I Like to listen to my own music the whole year round. instead of switching to the same classics the last month for a international party. That is just stupid.

  11. To be honest that Dm7b5 is really just giving the effect that the minor fourth would do. That chord closely resembles fm but the only real difference is that d natural. In my own compositions, I really love taking advantage of that minor fourth. You hear it more in older songs like the Beatles and in Christmas songs less than pop today. See In my life- from G major to a C minor gives that "melting" component that he describes.

  12. That diminished chord can also be heard in Debussy's Claire de Lune. In the Bellagio fountain scene, toward the end of Ocean's 11, you'll heard that chord. You can hear it at

  13. Why do you watch VOX videos if you do not like them? Then complain they are horrible, this never mad sense to me.

  14. I kinda hear a F minor 6 chord instead of D minor 7 b5? My brain puts the D in the top. I just think Ive listened too much on songs with minor sixths in them. Its one of my fave chords tho

  15. This is the most bullshit video ever, that is why journalism is such a joke, they specialize in nothing but yet they cover everything, falling in the trap of never getting it right as it really is. Plz m7b5 chord christmascy? Go get some help by papu neely the Adam

  16. It's actually Fm; not Dm7b5. Check out Johnny Marks's carols for the most Christmassy chord progression.

  17. This music sounds like I don't have to mow the lawn when it's 62 fahrenheit with the wind chill in every possible place I find myself for half the year. And food is REALLY easy to find in the winter for me as I the stuff I eat is either in a box or has four legs or is a bird.

  18. Don't forget about a Bmaj7 chord. For some reason, that sounds Christmasy to me. Then again, you can add a 2 in there and have Bmaj7(add2) and that creates more of a warmer feeling as well.

    Chords are awesome.

  19. Can't believe Adam Ragusea was in this nonsense video. Dm7b5 being the "christmas chord" is a ridiculous idea

  20. It might be considered gospel more than jazz. Of course they have a lot in common but Maria's song is inspired by gospel music.

  21. I wish it was always Christmas time, preferably sometime in the 80’s. Really miss the old times, wasn’t even born in that time period lol

  22. i think it’s interesting that christmas (baby please come home) is my favorite christmas song of all time, but i’m honestly not a big fan of all i want for christmas is you

  23. Terrible video. Nothing insightful or interesting, just lots of After Effects and "These chords kinda follow the same 'melty' sound, feeling, thing".

  24. raising your eyebrows doesnt make you look smart as if you arnt a high school drop out who broke into the recording studio

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