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

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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

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(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

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(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

John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ as a Beatles White Album-era Demo

It’s interesting to imagine what this very different song’s legacy would be had it been released as a Beatles song at the time.

The Beatles’ Surprising Contribution To Brain Science

(Source: NPR)

The same brain system that controls our muscles also helps us remember music, scientists say.

When we listen to a new musical phrase, it is the brain’s motor system — not areas involved in hearing — that helps us remember what we’ve heard, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans last month.

The finding suggests that the brain has a highly specialized system for storing sequences of information, whether those sequences contain musical notes, words or even events.

But the discovery might never have happened without The Beatles, says Josef Rauschecker of Georgetown University.

Listen to the full story here:

(Thanks, Elaine)

Building the Hofner Violin Beatles Bass

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The Beatles’ First U.S. Show to Screen in Theaters

http://vimeo.com/39529074

he Beatles’ first show in the United States took place at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 11, 1964. Beatlemania unveiled its fresh face on the packed crowd of 8,092 fans in attendance over the course of a 12-song set that included “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout.”

Over 40 years the footage of the historical event was lost, found and has yet to be seen by audiences—until now.

On May 17, Screenvision, in partnership with Ace Arts and Iambic Media will present a 92-minute documentary which features The Beatles’ first-ever U.S. concert, titled The Beatles: The Lost Concert. The documentary will be shown in theaters across America between May 17-22.

(Reprinted from Paste magazine)

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The Beatles: Rooftop Concert

On a cold day in January 1969, The Beatles, who hadn’t played live since 1965, took to the rooftop of the headquarters of Apple Records, located at 3 Savile Row, in central London. And there they played an impromptu last gig, much to the delight of Londoners on nearby rooftops … and to the chagrin of the police.

At the time, The Beatles were recording their final album, Let It Be, and the rooftop show let them run through various tracks from that last effort. Above, we have them playing “Get Back,” accompanied by Billy Preston on the keyboards. This longer clip shows them segueing from “Get Back” to “Don’t Let Me Down.” Next you can watch them jam through “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “One After 909,” and “Danny Boy.” And finally “Dig A Pony” and another version of “Get Back.”

Famously, The Beatles’ live legacy ends with the police shutting down the show (it was a noise violation, you know?) and John Lennon uttering the immortal words, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” That’s going out in style…

Footnote: It’s not clear which band played the first rooftop concert, but one thing is for sure. Jefferson Airplane played their own rooftop gig on December 7, 1968, and Jean-Luc Godard filmed it. Once again, the police pay a friendly visit.

(Reprinted from: Open Culture)

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