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Composed by The Beatles
Written by: Dominic Pedler
|Series:||Publisher: Omnibus Press|
More than thirty years after The Beatles split up, the music of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison lives on. What exactly were the magical ingredients of those legendary songs? why are they still so influential for today's bands? This groundbreaking book sets out to exlore The Beatles' songwriting techniques in a clear and readable style. It is aimed not only at musicians but anyone who has ever enjoyed the work of one of the most productive and successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. Author Dominic Pedler explains the chord sequences, melodies and harmonies that made up The Beatles' self penned songs and how they uncannily complemented the lyrical themes. He also assesses the contributions that rhythm, form and arrangement made to the Beatles unique sound. Throughout the book the printed music of the Beatles' songs appears alongside the text, illustrating the authors explanations. The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature - a new and perceptive analysis of the music itself itself as performed by what Paul McCartney still calls 'a really good, tight little band'.
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Book of the Month 2003-10
Guitar Book of the Month October 2003 - Dominic Pedler: The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles
This is a book I have been waiting for for a long time. And when I got it, it proved that it really was more than the book I had been waiting for. It has been announced many times, but has been delayed, delayed and delayed again. I am not really complaining. I have published a few books myself, and my publisher could tell you stories about books that are delayed, delayed, delayed and still not out. But it it good finally to see the book.
This project started as a feature on The Beatles' songwriting for the UK guitar magazine Total Guitar, and has now ended up as a 750+ pages book on the songwriting. I liked the magazine feature, and have been looking forward to the book since that time. To describe the basic idea behind the book, I will quote from the introduction:
«'What's your favourite Beatles album?'
So goes the code of introduction that is now dictated when any two or three Fab Four fans are gathered together cueing a predictable ritual as John, Paul, George and Ringo go under the microscope for the zillionth time since the sixties. You know the routine. Endless chinscratching analysis of the backwards recording techniques of Revolver, the psychedelic concept of Sgt. Pepper, the minimalist artwork of The White Album and the seamless blending of the medley on Abbey Road. Not forgetting a trawl through the convoluted clues to the real identity of 'The Walrus' , and an inventory of those 'Paul is Dead' references (now the subject of a dedicated tome).
For no stone is left un turned in Beatles culture except, too often, the only thing that really matters. The music itself.
We all know that the group changed society in far-reaching ways with everything from their haircuts to their politics. But it's the ultimate irony that the one aspect of their global-dominating legacy that is taken for granted is, well, the melodies and chord changes that really changed the world. That's not to suggest that other elements, especially a volume of lyrics now challenging Shakespeare for posterity, don't matter. Far from it. But a look at them in their rightful musical context can surely transform our appreciation, while also going some way towards explaining why the songs have become so imprinted on our consciousness.
For one of the highlights of The Beatles' songwriting was their ability to apply a certain musical technique to reinforce the lyrical imagery. »
It is not really true that there are no books on the music. But at least the books I have found (the books by Walter Everett) are very academic and hard to read if you do not have an academic degree in music and maybe hard even for those who have such a degree. (This is something that not only applies to the Beatles. Of all the books on music history in general, all but a few are history of composers and musicians, and not of music.)
None of the members of The Beatles knew anything about music theory they could not even read music. But they had musical intuition, and they were willing to experiment. When analyzing the music of such composers, one should not in my opinion be too academic. And this is really what makes this book so valuable. The analysis starts from the character of the tune, and then explains the musical elements that creates this character. Dominic Pedler knows the material, and he is a good writer.
If you think it is a good idea to use The Beatles' songs as a basis for learning basic harmony and theory, this is the book you should get. The book is organized around harmonic concepts, and not chronology. It is starting with the basic, and build from there: The function of the V-chord, then the IV-chord and the Three Chord Trick, from there minor chords are introduced, etc. You may notice that this is very much the same approach as in my Chord Progression series, so it should come as no surprise that I think this a good way to organize this material.
The book is not very academic. But you must at least be able to read music to use it. This is musical analysis, and not a "how to play" book, so there are (almost) no tab in the book.
Dominic Pedler's book is the one you should get if you want to understand the construction of The Beatles' songs and good song writing in general.
To get the most out of the book, you should not just read it, but work with it. Get The Complete Scores, and all the Beatles records. Read the book, listen to the music, study the scores until you really understand what is happening, and play it on your guitar. This is what I am doing at the moment, and I am prepared to spend a lot of time doing it. As I have transferred (almost) all my CDs to my computer, I can make playlist where I put toghether songs with common musical elements across CDs, as well as similar music by other artists. The CATraxx, as I am using, is an excellent program both to keep track of all your CDs and to manage playlists etc. With 15.000 MP3 files on my computer, all the standard "jukeboxes" are too slow in managing the music. The CATraxx is far better.
At the time of writing, the book is brand new and available in UK only. So all you readers in US and the rest of the world will have to order from Amazon UK or Musicroom, or wait until it gets a wider distribution.