The Beatles

1 08 2008

It seems that there is scientific, musicological support for what we have known since we first heard a Beatles song: they are, and will always be, the defining musical group of the 60’s and 70’s. That there were a number of other great bands there is no doubt, but the Beatles were special, set apart, in a universe of their own.

The musicological support looks at the chord progression through a song, and finds that at first appearance it teeters on the edge of chaos – portions of the song have typical chord progressions, but then there is an unusual chord thrown in that about brings the piece down, but doesn’t quite – just barely keeping to the safe side of musical abyss. Interestingly, the lyrics also change meanings, and the departure of theme occurs in the same section of music as the chaotic chords.

It is this ability to flirt with musical disaster and emerge intact, and do it consistently and repeatedly, that is what separates the Beatles from the rest of the bands in the British Invasion, or the American, Australian, European, Disco responses.

There is a lot more technical music theory about Beatles music contained in this paper by Ger Tillekens, but it is outside my sphere of knowledge and experience, so I leave it to you musical geeks to dig in further and enjoy.

I wonder if there were musicians of earlier eras who were masters of some unusual musical change in technique, something rarely seen (heard?) before they came along?

That the classical masters each have a particular style is well known; no one would mistake Brahms for Beethoven or Schubert or Strauss any more than they would mistake CCR for the Beatles or Three Dog Night or the Carpenters. Each group has a distinctive style, their musical arrangement is consistent across their whole body of work. The influence of Peter Cetera on Chicago’s music, for example, became very apparent when he set out on his own: his solo music could easily be mistaken for Chicago’s music, though the same cannot be said for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: their group sound is different from their solo sounds.

But I have digressed from the original point, that the Beatles introduced new and unusual chord progressions into music as we know it, and in the process helping to define – or maybe helping to create – an new era culturally.

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One response

18 05 2009
jamessandlin

You have a very informative and well layout Blog, with a lot of outstanding articals.
I am starting a blog dedicated to the Beatles.
Everyone loves the Beatles, On my blog it’s all
about the Beatles. Videos, Rare Photographs, and
lyrics to there most popular songs as well as links to all the Beatles Websites.

Check it out when you get a chance

Heres the Link

http://beatlesmusicvideos.wordpress.com/

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