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Notes on ... Series #90 / # 58 (NOTESON)
  by Alan W. Pollack
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(also known as ... Notes on the Notes on ... Series)

 

Table of Contents

 
  1. Why bother? An abstract of the series
  2. When did the series start and what's your game plan?
  3. Why made you decide to do this?
  4. What is your background?
  5. Are you going to do a book?
  6. What's the best way to get in touch with you?
 
 
 

1. Why bother? An abstract of the series

  Next note Just about everyone I know who likes/enjoys/is-crazy-about the music of the Beatles knows, without my having to tell them a damned thing, how "great" their music is. It's not anything that needs "proving" or "explanation".
  Next note However, there are a number of dimensions to the music of the Beatles that are more easily described, traced, and quantified. I dare say that any element of musical composition that can be described with reasonable objectivity and consistency from one example to the next allows one to discover at an often surprising level of detail stylistic preoccupations, predilections and patterns in the thought processes of the composers. Over the long run, this allows one to describe with a not unreasonable amount of precision the nature of trends and the evolution of style.
  Next note The concepts, vocabulary, and method used in the "Notes on" analyses of Beatles' songs will be familiar to anyone who has ever taken a substantive course in music theory. I may sometimes be unintentionally inaccurate, but overall, I'm hardly making it up as I go along :-) In fact, such a detailed examination of the work of those who one admires also happens to be a centuries-old, time-honored way in which to learn how to compose music.
  Next note I can appreciate how to the uninitiated, the very language in which the discussion takes place appears on the surface to be self-importantly erudite, perhaps even fatuous, but the technical words used do have commonly accepted meanings, and some kind of objective set of descriptive tools are critically necessary in such an analytical exercise lest the whole thing degenerate into a delirious indulgence in fanciful metaphors; just like this last sentence :-)
  Next note I don't believe that the validity of the exercise is necessarily invalidated by the fact that the composers may have not been capable of reading music, or that they couldn't describe in precise terms exactly what they thought they were doing in their compositions. No doubt, I would imagine "even" Mozart might have ridiculed those of his contemporaries who sought to analyze his work. But that doesn't necessarily invalidate such an inquiry. Granted, if the artist asks me to not look at his/her work in a certain way, I may be on one level rudely disobeying that artists preference by what I'm doing, but it does not mean that my taking a certain view of their work is by definition, wrong or meaningless. And here, I promised myself beforehand to not get defensive :-)
 
 

2. When did the series start and what's your game plan?

  Next note The series started in May 1989 with a short note on "We Can Work It Out". To date there have been around 160 installments, varying in frequency of appearance in a manner directly inverse to the pace of my combined family and professional life.
  Next note During the first 28 installments, the songs were chosen in random order (basically special favorites), and I would structure the outline of each article around the unique attributes of the respective songs.
  Next note At that point, in order to establish a working vocabulary and set of concepts for the articles, many of the earlier ones have side-bar like tutorials or tangential points about the Beatles' songbook overall. As a result, the articles steadily grew in length, some of them near the end becoming quite long. Since issue 29 (July 1991), I adopted an organizational template for the Notes, and also decided to go back to the beginning of the songbook and work my way patiently through in chronological order instead of skipping around.
  Next note The template provides a kind of consistency which allows me to keep the individual articles shorter for the most part, while enforcing upon me a certain rigorous breadth in the coverage of each song. Ironically, some of the much longer articles from the first half do not always cover some of the topics now included in the template. For that reason, I ought to at some point, revise and extend the older articles in keeping with the template style, but for now, in order to keep moving, I'm skipping over titles already covered earlier when I get up to their place on the list.
  Next note My hope is to eventually complete the full cycle of the songs "officially" recorded by the Beatles. Then we'll figure out what to do next :-)
 
 

3. Why made you decide to do this?

  Next note Doing the series was a way of indulging two very big hot buttons: re-emerging Beatlemania on the threshold of middle age, and an ingrained hunger for playing the part of the ol' professor. Beyond that, it all started as a kind of double-dare from 'saki'.
 
 

4. What is your background?

  Next note For those who may have wondered from time to time just who the 'flip' I think I am in writing this series ("temper, temper"): AWP has a PhD in music theory and composition (University of Pennsylvania, '77), and has taught these same subjects on the college level. For reasons too personal and boringly complicated to go into here, he's been working in the field of software engineering since 1978.
 
 

5. Are you going to do a book?

  Next note Yes, it is one of the my fondest wishes to publish the completed set of Notes in the form of a Book. This will, of course, take a while, and I'm hardly thinking of quitting my day job in the meanwhile. I'm more than happy to share the work with The Net as it emerges, but I will humbly ask you all for your courtesy in honoring my copyright of the material.
 
 

6. What's the best way to get in touch with you?

  awp@world.std.com is my e-mail address at a currently stylish public Unix site in Brookline Mass. I generally keep my work email address and other personal contact points unlisted on the net.
  Regards,
  Alan (120193#90) (053192#58)
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Copyright © 1993 by Alan W. Pollack. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.