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markus heuger's



  Abstract 0366
  Everett, Walter (2001), "The future of Beatles' research." In: Yrjö Heinonen, Markus Heuger, Sheila Whitely, Terhi Nurmesjärvi and Jouni Koskimäki (eds.), Beatlestudies 3. Proceedings of the Beatles 2000 conference. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä (Department of Music, Research Reports 23), 2001, 25-44.
  Journalists, cultural scholars, and musicologists have enjoyed documenting, analysing, and discussing the Beatles' work for nearly forty years. And all students of the Beatles' work have benefitted from great strides in the explication of the Beatles' music and of its place in twentieth-century culture. But so rich are the Beatles' contributions in these arenas, Walter Everett argues, that the careers of many scholars no doubt can be filled for yet another forty years without exhausting what is fascinating about the subject. The intended purpose of this presentation is to propose a few topics of investigation, all suggested by the usual methods and aims of the musicologist but rarely applied in the rock medium, that would likely yield important and interesting results. Likely subjects to be addressed include the following potential areas:
  1. A history of the Beatles' performance practices. What characterizes their equipment — particularly specific guitars and amplifiers — and their vocal and instrumental performance techniques? What decisions and goals would govern concert set lists and record album content and ordering? Where did the Beatles derive such practices and whom did they influence?
  2. A more complete study of the Beatles' compositional style. In which instances are the Beatles' tonal practices in harmony and voice leading closely related to the norms of classical tonality and of twentieth-century popular music, and in which instances are their materials at variance with such norms? Where is Schenkerian analysis called for, where is it not at all relevant, and where is it useful in showing creative deviations? How are the Beatles' rhythmic flexibilities evident at both large and small levels? Can any systematic approaches to vocal, instrumental, and electronic texture be found to override the obvious changes in style period and thickness of instrumentation?
  3. The need for a definitive Urtext of the Beatles canon. The Wise/Hal Leonard "Complete Scores" make a good baseline from which to improve, but there are countless transcription errors — in addition to the frequent copyists' mistakes — that make the product inadequate for a careful study of details. The wealth of information available in pre-overdub mixes as heard on preliminary acetates, as well as alternate recordings from outtakes and performance films — none of which were apparently consulted in the production of existing transcriptions — could greatly enhance the accuracy of the musical text.
  4. Beatles sketch study. Aside from the canon now marketed on some 23 brisk compact discs authorized by Apple, I believe that more than 105 hours of concert performances, composing tapes, group rehearsals, rejected outtakes and alternate mixes, and other audio documentation of Beatles' music-making — in addition to song manuscripts — exist. This material provides great insight into the Beatles' activities in performance, composition, and recording, and thus demands extensive study.
  5. The need for indexing, reposition, and/or distribution of both materials and scholarly work necessary for the best in Beatles research. Easily updateable, searchable online bibliographies of primary and secondary sources would greatly enable future research. There is still no single discography of all original international releases, some of which contain unique mixes. New releases of neverbefore-heard or -catalogued January, 1969, work at Twickenham, as another example, are finding release on a regular basis. On another front, if Apple and EMI do not find the dissemination of all known audio sketches and outtakes to be feasible on economic or aesthetic grounds, why not make such materials available in some sort of scholarly archive, perhaps at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the British Library, or some other secure location?
  To complete his wish-list, Everett also proposes both:
  • a new scholarly edition of the Beatles' four-track and eight-track masters that would be very different from the commercial releases intended for recreational listening; and:
  • the online availability of source materials, perhaps available on a subscription basis, that would secondarily provide centralized forums for worldwide discussion.
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