The paper delves into three artistic works by the Beatles, the most well-known band of the twentieth century. There is some contemplation on the mysteries of music and the origins of inspiration that fed the musicians. There are some theories about the harmonic arrangement, harmony, sound style, and other elements that have been passed down through the songs. The paper reflects on the lyrics, delving into each verse, exploring the musical accompaniment, and pondering the overall impact of the combination of music and lyrics on the listeners. The article offers a subjective view of the compositions. There are some ideas of the association the music provokes and trial to explain the tools of achieving the effect.
Keywords: music, refrain, beat, harmony, composition, single, record, sound, release, verse, fusion,voice,choir.
The Beatles, Song Analysis
The Beatles is considered to be the most famous band of the 20ths century. According to Sheffield (2016), ‘’the Beatles are far more famous and beloved now than during their lifespan, but they were the most beloved four people on the Earth’’ (p.7). The band has become a living legend and stays it until now. Sheffield (2016) notes that besides rock ‘roll the Beatles invented many other things: drugs, going to India, long hair, round glasses, press conferences and so on (p.310). The common boys from the ‘neighboring street’ blew out the routine—they looked like everybody from the audience and that was the secret of their charisma. The musicians were known as witty and spontaneous people who never cracked the same jokes in the interviews or repeated the same ideas (Lewison,2016,p.6). Their music, imbued with optimism was inspired millions of people over the globe. The Beatles were the only band in history which could engage the entire world and attract ultimate interest to their music. It was an incredible success that ever occurred.
It is amazing that new attempts to reconsider the history of the band and to reveal some mystery behind its success have been making over and over again. Ordinary people, as well as scholars, have been searching for the clue to explain the mesmerizing effect the Beatles’ songs make upon the listeners—to find the underlying ingredient in the musical structure of the lyrics overlayed.
Speaking of a general impression of their music, it is essential that the music by The Beatles is peculiar. The musicians strove to achieve the polystylistic—the synthesis of different styles on the base of rock ‘roll. The tunes were melodious, bright and simple. Their music could not be called commercial as every song was unique, but yet individually stylish. The Beatles experimented with styles, instruments, and orchestration, breaching the frames of the music. Moreover, the Beatles were genuine, natural musicians without artificial glamor of show business and they contained invisible national British ingredient.
The peculiarity of the Beatle’s songs is the quality of excellent choral performance when the singers play with the vocal their vocal abilities. They use the range of vocal combinations to enrich the simple melody. If a solo singer performed the composition, it would never sound so pleasant. The attractiveness of the sounding is achieved through the elaborated vocal variety: the singers turn roles changing from being soloists to back-singers. Due to this means the songs get a rich sound.
Another noticeable feature is that lip accordion refrains the melody produced by the human voices. The musicians used major chords throughout the most compositions. Some songs sound very authentic and had bright national flavor. They remind the songs by the band A-ha and the composition by Lou Reed ”What a perfect day”. Maybe, the composers adopted the elements of the style and general sounding of the Beatles. Though, the Beatles may have used the folk elements in their compositions, as the songs sound very British. The musicians do not use complicated structures—the tune is very simple to remember and to reproduce. The music is light, optimistic and carries the charge of positive energy. The minority passages add the romantic flavor to the sounding but do not make the songs sound heavier and depressing. Following the multiple researchers, we make our own attempt to get insight into the fiber of some musical compositions and deliver a personal vision of the mystical harmony.
The song Misery belong to the early period of the Beatles. It was composed by Paul and John, who wrote the song for Helen Shapiro, but the girl’s manager declined the song blatantly (Rodriges,2015,p.26). Misery is written in the measure four fourths, in C major. The structure is simple, but it is interesting the voice overlay is made in A minor. The mixture of opposite keys attaches the flavor of irony. The name of the song means unluck and misfortune, but the music contradicts the title and delivers the message of light treatment towards the situation. The plot of the song is trivial: it tells about a boy who parts with his girlfriend, he feels sorrows, but the general message is that life is wonderful. The song begins with a poem—a single phrase produced slowly sets the style to the style to the whole song. It sounds like an introduction to the story.
“The world is treating me bad, misery.
The initial phrase is ironical: the whole world dislikes the guy—the size of the grief is exaggerated.
I’m the kind of guy who never used to cry,
This is the first time he has inclined to burst into tears.
The world is treating me bad, misery.
The refraining words support the ideas and provide more persuasiveness to the narration.
I’ve lost her now for sure, I won’t see her anymore.
It’s gonna be a drag, misery.”
The life will be boring without the girl, what’s a pity! The verse is made in a spoken variety of English and highlights the lightness of the sorrows.
“I’ll remember all the little things we’ve done.”
The relationship was enjoying and the guy is going to cherish the memories. The attitude is supported by a jolly musical passage that raises the associations with a merry-go-round and hints and pleasant experience.
“Can’t she see she’ll always be the only one, only one?
This girl is special to his heart, dear and darling one.
Send her back to me, ‘cos everyone can see
Without her, I will be in misery.
Inverted word-order makes an accent on the reason for the gloomy mood
I’ll remember all the little things we’ve done.
She’ll remember and she’ll miss her only one, lonely one.”
The intended confusion of the pronounces— she for he—gives the meaning that the girl will feel lonely as she will not be another only one for anybody else. The rhyming of the words only and lonely
Send her back to me, ‘cos everyone can see
The words seem to be like a pray; once again the tragedy takes the global size: the world treats badly and everyone in the world witnesses the grief.
Without her, I will be in misery.
The inverted word order highlights that the guy is going to be blue until the girl returns. The key word of the rhyme is Misery that is supported by the C major accord. It is essential that the first two couplets sound like an inquiry and reflect a slight perplexity. That effect is achieved through the musical structure when the stress falls on the second word, the first beat of the bar. The next two couplets are a reflection in an attempt to find the answer, so the music reflects the flaw of thoughts. The structure of the final couplets is the replica of the first ones, and it expresses the hope for the future relationships. The positive C major accord highlights the temporariness of the sorrow. The song is performed in a choir. In this song, the Beatles imitated the style of Priestly and tried to sound more American (Rodriges,2015,p.27). This composition is known for the specific intention of playing the piano part: naturally, it was played twice as slower than in the recording that produced crystal clear sound (Rodriges,2015,p.27). The piano passage is performed in a slower tempo in one octave lower than the leading melody. A steady quick rhyme pervades the song from the beginning to the end.
The melody is divided into short phrases ended with rhetorical interjections; the pattern of the verses is very common: ABCC; the two-bridge structure of the lyrics is intervened by a refrain. The words fall on the downbeat of the measure with the exception of the pick-up beginning in the second verse. The melody is supported by four accords in the bass line: F, G, C major, A minor. The phrase endings get splitting —the two voices get discrepant and sound separate.
The final part of the song, the outro, is made of repetition of the last two measures; the use of interjections ‘’oohs” and ‘’ laws-laws”, performed in a solo voice, highlights the key tune of the song: the mixture of sadness and irony. To conclude, the song illustrates the genuine style of the early Beatles.
The song I’ve Just Seen a Face refers to the transitional period of the Beatles. The song sounds in western styles, like a piece of country music. The song is performed by a single voice, Paul McCartney, without a chor support. The rhythm is very energetic and steady, the melody is simple. The lyrics are not complicated, but the cascading strops add vivid tempo to the song. Also, it sounds like a folk song. It consists of couplets and a refrain. The song is composed in A major, in 4/4 meter; the verse structure is inconsistent: the first couplet comprises Intro, two verses, and a refrain, whereas the second one consists of the alteration of verse, refrain, verse, refrain. The final couplet is only verse and three refrains as the outro. Triple repetition of the final phrase is a common feature of the Beatles.
The song starts with several guitar passages that serve as the introduction to the story to proceed with rapid accords. The music is played without the use of bass guitar. The lyrics are full of contractions that gives conversational character to the words. The song is written in A major, measure two fourths—each melodic fraction of bass clef contains three beats of the treble clef.
The verse is twelve-measure long and comprises three phases.whereas the refrain is eight measure long. There are some grammar mistakes in the lyrics that make the song a folk piece of music.
“I can’t forget the time or place
Where we just meet.“
The same words are repeated several times that makes the song sound consistent and very simple. It provides only one idea about the joy of meeting. The song stands out of the Beatles’ pieces of music, as it sounds American, not British. However, it resembles some other musical styles: pop-rock and folksy. The use of maracas makes the song sound as the mixture of styles. The bass line is presented in only four accords which are skillfully alternated. The melodic phrase is short that gives dynamics and even acceleration to the song. The tempo reflects the emotion that overflood the singer, the excitement, and eagerness to share his delight. The performance has one slight peculiarity: the tremble of the voice, that is unusual for the Beals’ songs. To conclude, the song stands out of the Beatles’ pieces of music, as it sounds American, not British.
The song Cry Baby, Cry was released in 1968 and refers to the Psychedelia period. The style is drastically different from the early music. Despite the sudden splashes of sound, the song sounds like a Lгllaby. It is achieved through the repetition of the refrain. The text resembles a fairy-tale, a bed-time story. The music imitates the crying baby and raises the associations of a mother trying to soothe her baby.
The song has a structure of a folk song, and the refrain serves as an introduction. There are some elisions between the sections which make the song sound dynamic and unsoothing. G major alternates E minor, the accords go in a sequence of GABDE. The instrumental solution is very interesting: the music is created with a mixture of the instruments, such as piano, organ accordion, drums, and guitars.
The music between the refrains is full of sophisticated musical passages that give mystical flavor to the words. This effect is also achieved through the mixture of different musical instruments. The Beatles experiment with sounding and draw the picture of the world similar to the children. The use of the drum loops expresses either excitement or mother’s sudden mother’s inflammations. The verse is twelve measure long, whereas the refrain is eight measure long; the phrases are repeated twice. The outro contains triple repetition of the final phrase—the trademark of the BeatlesAll in all, the song refers to the associations connected with the baby’s life. It expresses a rich mixture of feelings: from patience to annoyance. While listening to the song, one can easily imagine a woman rocking a cradle. Thatis one of the genius songs of the Beatles that illustrates the harmony of the meaning, lyrics, and music.
The last concert of the band took place on the 29th 1966; the last album was Let it Be. In 1970 the band got dissociated. Obviously, there are some external and internal reasons for that. One of them is the social frameworks within the band existed: the 60ths were the period of relative wellness and peace. The 70s were pervaded with the atmosphere of nihilism, depression, and opposition that contributed to the emergence of a punk philosophy that denied being conventional. The peaceful, vigorous and romantic music of the Beatles was replaced by the disharmonic sounding of punk-rock compositions. The Beatles’ tunes perfectly fitted to the whole atmosphere of the 60s and got awkward in the age of insurrection and rebel. However, Sheffield (2017) considers that the Beatles was ’’self-contained rock and roll band, playing their own instruments and writing their own music’’ and that the Beatles is out of all times (p.11).
The Beatles are the most successful band ever existed. The generations of people changes, but everybody knows the name of the band and can easily sing at least a few songs. The Beatle’s music has a unique charisma. The simplicity is mystical and can hardly be explainable. However, the Beatles were the event of its time. When listening to its music, it is easy to feel the relaxed atmosphere of the 60s. The Beatles made a long-lasting impact on the development of the music in general. The musicians experimented with musical structures and harmony; they mixed the styles and instruments. Nevertheless, the band was able to create its particular unique image that could not be imitated by anyone.
Lewison, M. (2016). Tune in: The beatles: all these years. NY: Three Rivers Press.
Rodriges, R.(2015).The Beatles: The Long and Fabulous Road: Beatles Biography: The British Invasion, Brian Epstein, Paul, George, Ringo and John Lennon Biography Beatlemania, Sgt. Peppers (Beatles History) (Volume 1)Paperback.The USA:iFocus Book.
Sheffield, R. (2017). Dreaming the Beatles: the Love Story of the Band and the Whole World. NY: Harper Collins.