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markus heuger's



  Abstract 0072
  Fabbri, Franco (1996), "Forme e modelli delle canzoni dei Beatles." [Forms and models of the Beatles' songs.] In: Rossana Dalmonte (ed.), Analisi e canzoni. Trento: Dipartimento di Scienze Filologiche e Storiche, Università degli Studi di Trento, 1996, 169-196. (Also in: Franco Fabbri, Il suono in cui viviamo. Inventare, produrre, diffondere musica. Milano: Feltrinelli, 1996, 53-79.)
  Love Me Do is the first title in the Beatles' "official" discography; The Long And Winding Road is the last one — the "Spectorized" production of a previously recorded demo and its inclusion in Let It Be, the album, was at the origin of Paul McCartney's decision to quit. Both songs are very different under many aspects; however, the two songs share almost exactly the same chorus-bridge structure. Which is not the same as in other songs, though there are musicologists who still talk about an undifferentiated "song form." In fact, there are many song forms. Very interesting discussions about these can be found in "cookbooks" for would-be songwriters, where different sections of a song — like verse, chorus, bridge, book, etcetera — are described, along with their functions.
  The very use of a term like hook indicates that the way a song is articulated into sections is related to strategies aimed at the listener's attention, and to purposes of persuasion. A comparison with the techniques of rhetorics comes to mind without too much effort. Various types of relationships between consecutive sections can be described; amongst these, a colored versus gray — or amusing versus boring — opposition seems to be at work in many Lennon-McCartney's songs.
  The chorus-bridge form is then compared with the verse-chorus form. While the latter is discursive, additive, goal-oriented, and pleasure comes at the end, like a solution, a prize, a climax, after a demonstration, a promise, some preliminaries, the chorus-bridge form is exclamative, subtractive, focused on the beginning, rather than on the end. Pleasure is shown immediately, in the shape of the fine chorus, and then negated. The verse-chorus form narrates, the chorus-bridge form stages (it actually originates from the Broadway's musical theater); the former is oral receptive, the latter is anal retentive.
  Very many of Lennon-McCartney's songs are of the chorus-bridge type: almost the majority in all of the Beatles' albums until Rubber Soul. Which is astonishing, if we compare the Beatles' song corpus with their contemporaries, like the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Them, the Who, even the Kinks (the most 'theatrical' of the lot), where the chorus-bridge form is almost absent. As it is missing in the rock'n'roll repertoire of the earlier Beatles. Where does the chorus-bridge form come from, and why it is so widely used, in such a long part of the Beatles' career?
  It seems that it can be traced to Lennon's and McCartney's lower middle class roots (and "old" songs sung by aunties and other relatives), and to many other factors like: (a) its effectiveness in supporting ordinary teenage situations (just compare its usage by early Sixties adolescent stars like Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka); (b) its structural acceleration, and "speed" (and a record market dominated by singles); (c) George Martin's experience with comedy as well as his formal musical education.
  The move to more lyrics-oriented songs, to so-called comedy-songs — stories, as opposed to situations — is marked by a much lower number of chorus-bridge songs in albums like Revolver or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; in the White Album the chorus-bridge form appears between quotation marks, in songs like Honey Pie; the most significant songs during this period show complex or totally irregular forms, like A Day In The Life or Happiness Is A Warm Gun. Sound and lyrics prevail over "old" formal tricks as attention-driving devices. However, the chorus-bridge form appears again during the Get Back Project (which led to the Let It Be album), and in George Harrison's Something, praised by Frank Sinatra as "the greatest love song in the last fifty years." So it appears that the Beatles made such a revolutionary impact on popular music by means of such an old — but effective! — song form.
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