A Hard Day’s Night: Solving a Beatles Mystery with Mathematics

(via ABC Australia) by Joel Werner

It’s probably the most recognisable sound in popular music.
“This is the one chord that everyone around the world knows,” says Randy Bachman, a rock star in his own right from The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive.
It dates to July 1964 — the height of Beatlemania. The band was about to release its third album.
For the first time, it was all original music. Plus, the Beatles were shifting away from their rock ‘n’ roll roots to a more poppy sound, and this album was to be the soundtrack for their first feature film.
They needed to make a statement…

Read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2017-11-05/a-hard-days-night-how-mathematics-revealed-beatles-secret/9093348

Video of the Week: Todd Rundgren and Utopia’s Spot-On 1980 Beatles Parody

deface

Todd Rundgren’s band Utopia, with whom he released albums sporadically while maintaining a solo career (think Phil Collins and Genesis) explored both short-form pop and ambitious progressive-leaning rock. They also released one of the great Beatle parody works, their 1980 Deface the Music album.

In the above Spinal Tap-esque retrofied video the band perform “I Just Want to Touch You” while evoking Ed Sullivan shows of yore and the “I Want to Hold Your Hand” Beatles era. Other tracks from Deface the Music explore later period Beatle tunes, sending up “Eleanor Rigby”, “Penny Lane” and others.

Utopia were also responsible for the original recording of England Dan & John Ford Coley’s hit “Love is the Answer”, written by Rundgren.

The Surprising Chord That Helped Make “Penny Lane” a Masterpiece

paul

by Scott Freiman

via CultureSonar

McCartney pulls off a difficult songwriting feat by placing the verses and the choruses in neighboring keys (the verses are in B and the choruses are in A). At the end of the song, McCartney writes a key change so that the final chorus is in B, bringing the song full circle. Yet, it’s in the verse that McCartney injects a magical chord that helps make “Penny Lane” a case study in great songwriting. I’ll let you in on McCartney’s secret in this video.

Read more: http://www.culturesonar.com/penny-lane/

The Sonic Differences Between the Beatles’ Mono and Stereo Recordings

beatles

If you think the only difference between the mono and stereo recordings of the Beatles’ music is in the number of channels, these videos will be an ear-opener. Even if you’ve heard these songs hundreds of times (as many of us have) you may never have noticed that such marked differences exist between mono and stereo versions–differences in mixing, use of effects and even vocal performances.

Which do you consider to be the definitive versions?

The 10 Most Technically Amazing Beatles Songs

beatles

(via Mojo)

THE BEATLES’ STELLAR SONGWRITING skills and world-class charm are the staples of pop culture commentary. Less often mentioned are the groundbreaking production tricks and ideas that made their records the benchmark for creative recording in the last century, and beyond…

http://www.mojo4music.com/14018/10-most-technically-amazing-beatles-songs/

 

Learn to Sing the Harmonies of Famous Beatles Songs with Master Harmonist Galeazzo Frudua

italian guy

(Source: Open Culture)

A recent Metafilter post introduces us to Galeazzo Frudua, a musician from Bologna, Italy who, “possesses an uncannily good ear for harmony, and has produced a series of videos that painstakingly and expertly analyze and demonstrate for you the vocal harmonies employed in various Beatles songs.” These detailed tutorials, writes the Metafilter poster, are made all the more watchable by Frudua’s “perceptive commentary, capable singing voice, unassuming manner, impressive video editing skills and, hey, his charming Italian accent.”

In his first tutorial, for “Nowhere Man” (above), Frudua begins by introducing “Lennon voice”: “Lennon voice is very simple, and it goes like this.” And, handily, flawlessly, it does. Frudua, who seems to be recording in the back of a restaurant, matches the tone of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison’s harmonies separately and together impressively. He particularly favors Rubber Soul. Hear his “In My Life” below. He calls it “one of the best performances ever of John Lennon in the Beatles” as well as “a fantastic campus on learning how to sing.”

Anecdotally, having worked with choir singers, opera singers, and a capella singers, I can say that Frudua’s ability is not particularly rare but is the effect of constant practice. One Metafilter poster puts it well: “It’s not hard if you have a bit of an ear, and some experience…. Harmonies are a kind of language. Spend some time learning the grammar and a few phrases and it can open up quickly.” Frudua’s not only a master of vocal harmony, he’s also an expert luthier and builds custom guitars for dozens of Italian artists. In his breakdown below of “You Never Give Me Your Money,” the intro to the Abbey Road medley, Frudua takes on a particularly difficult harmony, as he explains in great detail in his careful introduction to the song’s harmonic grammar. He tells us we can use this tutorial “as a guide for your Beatles’ tribute band or reproduce them in your home recording.” You may do those things if you wish. Or you could watch Frudua do them better. See his full series here.

Hear the Isolated Vocal Tracks for The Beatles’ Climactic 16-Minute Medley on Abbey Road

abbey

(Source: Open Culture)

I have many memories growing up of gingerly placing my father’s Abbey Road LP on the turntable and spending the afternoon lying on the floor and peering at the photos inside the album cover’s gatefold—trying to wrap my head around what kind of hairy geniuses could make music like this. I had no inkling that this was their final recording together, that the band was about to come apart. None of that mattered to me. I didn’t quite grasp how this band evolved from the teen pop sensations in identical suits and haircuts with their legions of flailing schoolgirl fans and goofy comedy troupe banter. This seemed like an entirely different entity—and the particular sublimity of the medley on side 2 had me lifting up the needle and dropping it back at the intro to “You Never Give Me Your Money” over and over.

That medley is such an impressive demonstration of The Beatles’ range of voice and sensibility that it almost functions as a capsule for the sound of their whole later career—all the weird narratives, blues, ballads, and gorgeously lush hymns and lullabies. What remains constant throughout every Beatles’ record—even before George and Ringo’s songwriting contributions—is the vocal and lyrical interplay of Lennon/McCartney, and it’s all on fine display in the medley. George Harrison described side 2 in 1969 as “a big medley of Paul and John’s songs all shoved together.” Lennon gave George and Ringo more credit for the medley in an interview that same year:

We always have tons of bits and pieces lying around. I’ve got stuff I wrote around Pepper, because you lose interest after you’ve had it for years. It was a good way of getting rid of bits of songs. In fact, George and Ringo wrote bits of it… literally in between bits and breaks. Paul would say, ‘We’ve got twelve bars here– fill it in,’ and we’d fill it in on the spot. As far as we’re concerned, this album is more ‘Beatley’ than the double (White) album.

However it all came about, it’s the medley’s strange lyrical twists, mélange of vocal styles, and powerful harmonies that stay with me, and that I find myself singing softly, even after having gone several years without hearing the album in full. Perhaps you do this too. Now we can hear what The Beatles’ themselves sounded like in the studio sans instruments with the isolated vocal tracks for the side 2 medley at the top of the post. Hear the full album version above and see the Medley tracklist below.

You Never Give Me Your Money

Sun King

Mean Mr. Mustard

Polythene Pam

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight

The End

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