Melodic Structure

            The melodies of the verses of both songs have similarities in their shape structure. Both “El Pueblo Unido” and “All Along the Watchtower” are characterized by descending melodic phrases and utilize short (2-3 notes) ascending phrases.  While these shape patterns are not universal, they are a general trend in the music.  Some examples of the descending melodic shape in “All Along the Watchtower” are Hendrix’s lines “Bus-‘ness-men they…” and “None will le-vel…” (See example 1).  Similarly, in “El Pueblo Unido” this descending melodic shape is seen in the lyrics “Va-mos a triun-far” (See example 2). 

            The short ascending melodic lines however differ in their roles between the two pieces.  In “El Pueblo Unido” the short ascending melodic lines set for up the descending ones.  This is seen in the lyrics “De pie Can-tar” which rises before the fall of the previously mentioned “Va-mos a triun-far” (See example 3).  The short ascending phrases in Hendrix’s “All along the Watchtower” serve a different function however.  They contrast with the descending ones from the previous measure to set up for a cadence (“He-y”) that effectively concludes each verse of the song.  The best example of this is the line, “No-body-of it is worth” (See example 4).

            Both songs can be described primarily as conjunct, especially when the melodic shape is descending.  This is to say, the intervals between consecutive tones are relatively small.  Examples 1 and 2 demonstrate this pattern.   The ascending pieces in “El Pueblo Unido” contrast with the general pattern of conjunct melodic lines however. The interval between the first two syllables of the first verse (“De pie”) is a major fourth (See example 3).  This can be considered disjunct melodic motion since the interval is larger than a second.  It is felt that this was an intentional decision made by the composer in order to further contrast with the following conjunct motion.

            It is noted that there is also slight use of disjunct melodic motion in “All Along the Watchtower”.  It too serves a function similar to the ascending melodic shape in the verses of that song; to contrast with previous sections of the melodic phrase in order to establish a cadence.  The resulting cadence may end the melodic phrase such as in the lines “Out of here”, or the verse as a whole as in “He-y” (See example 5).  This two note disjunct motion is also seen in the parts “dig my” and “drink my”, manifesting itself as the same interval distance.

            “El Pueblo Unido” and “All Along the Watchtower”, in addition to having similarities in melodic shape and interval distance, also use well defined melodic climaxes within their respective verses.  The location of these climaxes however differs between the songs.  In the first verse of “All Along the Watchtower”, “None will le-vel…” serves as the climax just three measures before the end of the verse.  Hendrix takes certain liberties with where he places the climax in the subsequent verses but it always falls near the beginning or end of the verse.  In “El Pueblo Unido” however, the melody is more consistently placed and always falls three measures from the end of the verse similar to the first verse of “All Along the Watchtower”.  The climax within the melody in “All Along the Watchtower” however is does not necessarily fall on the peak of the range.  This is in contrast to “El Pueblo Unido” in which the climax is both the peak intensity and range within the melody.

            A significant point of contrast is the range of the melodies of both songs.  “All Along the Watchtower” has a quite narrow range during the verses and only reaches a height of four whole steps.  In contrast, “El Pueblo Unido” has a medium range of about ten whole steps.  This is due to long, conjunct melodic runs such as “Tu canto y tu ban-de-ra flo-re-cer”.  Outside of the verses however, “All Along the Watchtower” has a somewhat wider range, driven by several guitar solos.