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Beatles' studies


  Collected essays on the songs of the Beatles
  Editor: Ger Tillekens
English The magnificent flat-seventh (may 2019). Nowadays the flat-seventh is a fully accepted member of the family of chords that populate the inlands of popular music. That has been quite different in the past. The chord's rise to acceptance coincides and therefore is often conflated with the successes of the Beatles. Here D. Pinter goes back in time, looking for the flat-seventh in the popular songs of the decade before the Beatles' hits topped the charts.
English The embarrassment of abundance (december 2018). In 1968, now fifty years ago, the Beatles released their most fragmented album: an exceedingly diverse collection of songs packed on two disks that because of its blank cover became known as the White Album. While transcending the specifics of its context the album, Francesco Brusco argues, reflects the seismic cultural and political events of its year of birth - and that's what gives it its unity. Through parody, hyperbole and bitter irony, it takes the musical minutes of the socio-cultural trials and tribulations of that social tipping point in our recent history.
English "Their production will be second to none" (may 2018). Last June the Beatles' eighth album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band celebrated its 50 years. The success of the album marked the rise of the recording studio as an important instrument for the production of popular music as well as a recognition of the role of the producer. Discussing both Abbey Road and George Martin, Francesco Brusco here highlights the influence of the recording studio and its aesthetics.
Dutch De Beatles in Nederland (mei 2014). Het korte en enige optreden dat de Beatles ooit in Nederland verzorgden, ligt nu bijna een halve eeuw achter ons. De Beatlemania, die het land toen overspoelde, staat nog steeds symbool voor het begin van de roerige jaren zestig. Een goede aanleiding dus voor een boek waarin dat gebeuren nog eens uitgebreid wordt beschreven. Jan-Cees Brugge, Henk van Gelder, Lucas Ligtenberg en Piet Schreuders waagden zich eraan. Hans Knot bespreekt hier het resultaat.
English Fifty years Beatles in Hamburg (july 2010). On August 17th, 1960, the Beatles entered Hamburg's music club Indra. Now fifty years later, on the same day and place, a yet completely unknown band named Bambi Kino, will play their songs from that period. Presenting the festivities, Matias Boem here recollects the ways in which Hamburg moulded and shaped the Beatles.
English Liverpool's black community and the Beatles (january 2010). James McGrath recently submitted his PhD research on the work of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In October last year he spoke on Upfront, a programme aired by BBC Radio Merseyside, about his findings on the Beatles' various and often overlooked links with Liverpool's black community in the years from 1958 to 1962. For our journal the editors repeated the event, asking him the same questions while waiting for some more extended answers.
English A conversation with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (july 2007). In October 1969, Robbie Dale interviewed John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the executive offices of the Apple corporation, Saville Road in London. They told him freely about their new band, the Plastic Ono Band, their new records and their then-current plans. The interview was lost for over 35 years and now is published for the first time.
English A flood of flat-sevenths (june 2006). According to many pop-musicologists the flat-seventh chord, or subtonic, can be regarded as one of the marks of the Beatles' experimental period. On the Beatles' 1966 album Revolver this chord is paired to a lavish use of quartal harmonies. Is this peculiar chord responsible for the album's atmosphere? Answering this question, Ger Tillekens here takes a closer look at the flat-seventh.
English Semantic shifts in Beatles' chord progressions (april 2004). The Beatles' chord transitions, Ger Tillekens (1998) argued, reflect their lyrics by referring to changing contexts of conversation. However, can and do listeners actually perceive chord transitions that way? Using an experimental design, Juul Mulder tried to answer this question. Here we reprint the results.
English Old sweet songs (july 2002). Every writer of rock music, one way or the other, is reworking the lines of earlier songs. This also goes for Paul McCartney, whose compositions "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Yesterday" are both, as Ian Hammond here shows, based on some older songs. As the masterprint of the former, Hammond unearths "When The Saints". For the latter — the song for which sources McCartney himself sought in vain for a whole month — he points at Ray Charles version of "Georgia".
English What a rock concert should do ... (may 2002). From April 1st to May 17th 2002 Paul McCartney is touring, or rather "driving" the US. Walt Everett was there on May 1st, when the Driving USA 2002 tour played the Palace in Auburn Hills, Detroit, and takes us through the set list.
English West meets East (april 2001). In 1965 Indian music and rock music met as the sitar made its entrance in some very popular rock songs. The first appearance of the sitar in a rock song seems to be the recording of the Yardbirds "Heart Full Of Soul", although the version with the sitar would not see release for another nineteen years. The song became a major hit with Jeff Beck doing an expert imitation on an ordinary guitar. The Kinks and the Beatles were soon to follow. Frederick W. Harrison here explores these meeting points of popular and Indian music.
English An examination of the bootleg record industry and its impact upon popular music consumption (november 2000). Since the 1960s the bootleg record industry has shown considerable growth. Generally bootleg records present unauthorized recordings based on unauthorized taping of live performances or radio and television broadcasts, or stolen tapes from unreleased studio sessions of a particular artist or group. Bootleg recordings exist because they have a market: they fulfill fan needs. Here Gary Warren Melton researches the role of some Beatles' fanzines as an intermediary between the bootleg record industry and the Beatles' fan. Notice: this essay was originally published in Tracking: Popular Music Studies, 1991, 4, 1.
English "Not A Second Time" (august 2000). Many experts take the early Beatles' song "Not A Second Time" for a weak member of the group's songbook, mainly because of the inconsistencies between Lennon's lyrics and his voicing of the song lines. The Finnish philosopher T.P. Uschanov argues, however, that the song's strength resides precisely in this incoherence. Therefore the song, he says, offers an excellent argument for the significance of semiotics for popular music studies.
English The rise and fall of the experimental style of the Beatles (july 2000). Nowadays it has become common practice to identify the musical career of the Beatles with the development of a musical style. Taking the Sgt. Pepper's album of June 1967 as the peak of the Beatles' musical experiments, many books on this subject easily speak of a "rise" and "fall" of the Beatles' experimental style. In this essay Tuomas Eerola discloses his research into the adequacy of these concepts.
English Songwriting, recording, and style change (july 2000). In the Beatles' songs one can notice some remarkable style changes. To analyse these, however, one first has to solve the problem of the periodization. Yrjö Heinonen and Tuomas Eerola argue the solution lies in dividing the work of the Beatles into twelve recording projects. Using this intermediate level between song and period a more reliable picture of the change of the musical style of the Beatles can be obtained.
English Words and chords (july 2000). In the Beatles' songs each of the basic chords can be replaced by several other types of chords. Separated by minor third intervals, the tones of these stand-in chords show a diagonal relationship. This principle of diagonal substitution helps the listeners to understand the songs musically. Closer study of the early Beatles' songs reveals yet another point of support. As Ger Tillekens shows, in each song there is a tight relation between the clusters of these stand-in chords and the semantics of the lyrics.
English Markus Heuger's Beabliography (june 2000). The Beabliography is a huge bibliography of "mostly academic writings" about the Beatles, initiated by Markus Heuger. The Beabliography offers an alphabetical author index and a systematic catalogue of relevant subjects.
English Passion, pop and self control (april 2000). "Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll": that's the self-proclaimed image of rock culture as we know it since rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues came of age in the fifties and sixties. Living up to this pose of excess, however, requires a certain amount of self control. In this essay Henk Kleijer and Ger Tillekens delve deeper into this relationship, exploring the absence of the feeling of guilt in pop music, the workings of the double standard of sexuality, and the communicative mechanisms of irony and banter.
English "I was nervously waiting ..." (february 2000). On February 9th, 2000, musicologist Alan W. Pollack completed his series of analyses of the Beatles' catalog. Here, interviewed by Ian Hammond, the author looks back on ten years and eight months of Beatles' studies.
English The official Beatles' canon (december 1999). Alan W. Pollack's famous analyses of the Beatles' songs, now arranged along the lines of official Beatles' canon according to the release dates of the singles, EP's and albums.
English Who is the main composer of the Beatles' songs? (october 1999). From the very beginnings of the Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon decided to publish their songs under both their names. So all their songs bear the cooperative hallmark "Lennon / McCartney". But, some songs were more Lennon's work, while others more exclusively show the hand of McCartney. Here Per Myrsten answers the question who was the main composer of each and every Beatles' song.
English Boys will be Girl Group, or the Johnettes (september 1999). Between 1958 and 1965 the sound of Girl Groups reigned high in the US Top Ten. Though the songs of these groups appear quite simple to the ear, the music and lyrics contain subtle and suprising innovations. Next to the rhythm and blues and the rock 'n' roll — Greg Panfile shows — this style of popular music exerted an important influence on the music of the Beatles and their fellow musicians of the British beat explosion.
Dutch De muziek van de Beatles (juni 1999). Medio 1997 zond de VPRO in het programma De Avonden een driedelige radioserie uit over de muziek van de Beatles, vervaardigd door Harry Klaassen en Piet Schreuders. Hun conclusie: de Beatles munten uit in samenspel, samenzang, samenwerking in de composities, en vernieuwing. Die vernieuwing blijkt, zo stellen ze vast, vooral uit "verboden" akkoordenprogressies en onregelmatige maatschema's. Wat daar zo merkwaardig aan is, valt hier te lezen in het volledige script van de drie afleveringen.
English A Beatles' Odyssey (march 1999). Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series, a musicological analysis of all the songs the Beatles wrote and performed on their official records, is now available on Soundscapes' pages. This essay, written by Ger Tillekens, offers a short introduction to Pollack's ten year musicological journey along the long and winding roads of the Beatles' songs.
English Notes on ... Series (january 1999). In 1989 the American musicologist Alan W. Pollack started to analyze the songs of the Beatles. He published his first results on internet. In 1991 — after he had finished the work on 28 songs — he bravely decided to do the whole lot of them. About ten years later, in 2000 he completed the analysis of the official Beatles' canon, consisting of 188 songs and 25 covers. Here we have ordered this massive work in five categories. And, for your convenience, we've added an alphabetical index as well as a short introduction.
English Baroque and folk and ... John Lennon (september 1998). Paul McCartney was the one who imported all those elements of the French chanson, of British folk, of Tin Pan Ally, and of classical music into the Beatles' songs. John Lennon on the other hand was the protagonist of pure rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues. So goes the simple myth that has wrapped itself tightly around the two musicians, responsible for the majority of the Beatles' greatest compositions. As most myths this one too is not true, as is shown by the fact that in the late sixties and early seventies — the alleged period of Lennon's return to his rock 'n' roll roots — he actually did put some clear folk melodies and classical elements into his songs. Here Ger Tillekens discusses the examples of "Because" and "Happy Xmas".
Dutch Het geluid van de Beatles (mei 1998). Een nieuw boek over de muziek van de Beatles door Ger Tillekens met de complete samenvatting in het Nederlands en het Engels hier in Soundscapes.
English The sound of the Beatles (may 1998). A new book on the music of the Beatles by Ger Tillekens, explaining the system behind their curious chord combinations and their harmoniously sounding melodies. For the moment the book is only available in the Dutch language, but this site compensates for this omission with an extensive English summary.
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