Were The Beatles over rated?

Pera's Music and Lit

            I thought I would try to explain just why The Beatles were not over rated. I can see the point of younger peeps who think they were. Hell, I can come up with half a dozen better musicians for each instrument without even giving it any thought. And to be honest, they weren’t a rock band at all. They were a pop and ballad band with a slight rock influence. But that isn’t why they were so important and I’m going to show some videos here to help explain what I mean. First of all it is without doubt that they saved CLASSICAL music. This is a bit hard to explain so please bear with me. Western music is basically composed of turning keys into notes and using those notes in conjunction with harmony (a series of chords used in harmony with the melody) This formula was used since Bach but its very nature was considered restrictive because there were only so many notes. So in the 50’s and 60’s composers threw out conventional writing forms because they felt everything that could be written had been written and said most any noise can be construed music and set out to prove it. There are entire pieces consisting of no more than throwing tennis balls at piano strings or pouring water onto a metal ladder. This of course left the average fan baffled and they just didn’t get it. The art form was dying thru lack of interest. Then along came the Beatles.They started out like most pop groups using the obvious 3 or 4 chords for their compositions but in the span of about 4 years (and this was their genius) they were chaining whole series of chord sequences together. Here are 2 examples, from 63 a standard 4 chord tune and from 67 a tune with no less than 16 chords.
In The Life of…The Beatles
The Beatles – I Saw Her Standing There (live)

Now the melody in I am the Walrus is almost irrelevant. What grips you with this song is the chord progression and that is not accidental. They were masters at taking chords to places most wouldn’t realize they could go. Like taking an f major and turning it into an f 7 which then just cries out for a B flat like in this number in between the words Better and Pain, listen for the chord progression Heh they have a little fun at first but hang in there, one of their best tunes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_MjCqQoLLA
The Beatles – Hey Jude

heh I love this version because of the look Paul gives John because John missed coming in on harmony and John is like “What? Oh sorry mate! Then Paul watches him next time around to make sure he comes in

The last thing Ill touch on here is modulation. Jumping from one key into another. Penny lane is a perfect example of this doing it no less than 7 times. In one part, the chorus, the melody goes up while the chords modulate downward, giving a wistful, nostalgic feel to the piece. While on the surface this is just a pop song, its really a work of genius using methods even the great composers hadn’t thought of doing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-rB0pHI9fU
The Beatles – Penny Lane

All this combined showed a whole generation of composers that with a little imagination, western music still had a LOT to offer and they once again embraced the western tradition of melody and harmony. None of the Beatles had any formal musical training. They figured this stuff out on their own by pure instinct. If that inst genius, I don’t know what is.

Now on to their pop and rock influence. First, what influenced them. Everyone knows they were influenced by guys like Elvis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. But as a struggling group in the early 60’s, they had to play a range of musical styles just to get work. This included Broadway tunes, rock, pop, movie numbers, folk songs, novelty tunes and music hall numbers. All had an influence. Not sure where McCartney got it, but he also was a fan of Plagal Modes, basically a style of minor chordal music going back to the Greeks. Elenor Rigby is a perfect example of this. Cant express how important this song is because nothing like it had ever been done before and again on the surface it just seems like a typical, tho a bit darker, pop song. Also after their trip to India they became fans of pentatonic structure, basically writing melodies using only the black keys on a piano.

Everyone and their brother will tell you that Sgt. Pepper’s was the turning point that showed every artist from Townsend to Clapton and even Hendrix that they could go in every direction they wanted. Indeed, before Sgt. Peppers, all songs had to follow a specific formula and be under 3 minutes for radio to play. And that album showed artists that the studio wasn’t there just to catch a song as closely as possible to how it would sound live, it was a vast playground where the only limitation was your imagination. Some Beatles nay sayers use how the Beatles used the studio as proof the Beatles were manufactured and not that good at all. That goes in the face of everything I explained in part one. And they never used the studio to REPLACE what they actually did, but to augment it. But as important as Sgt. Peppers was, I think the change really starts earlier than that with Rubber Soul and especially Revolver. Here is an example from 66, with some avant-guard looping and back masking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoD-llVXosc(edited)
diversao rula
Tomorrow never knows with lyrics(The Beatles)

Now to better understand the importance of this, lets check out some of the contemporary hits of the time (WARNING GAG INDUCING) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8dx0oE–VI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7ShUddLnxI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2fPkzJsMU8
Pat Boone – Aint That A Shame

Junio C. Ferreira
Runaround Sue – Dion

Músicas de vinil
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking (1966 Original)

This is just a taste of what was considered very popular pop music at the time when the Beatles were creating a whole new genre . Remember, the Beatles made up this stuff as they went along, they didn’t have any that went before them. Sgt Peppers could have completely flopped and ended them but they didn’t even consider not going ahead. They had a passion for what they were doing and they ultimately did the music that pleased them and if it became popular then so much the better. The Beatles also showed the artistic world it was ok to write your own damned song, don’t depend on covers or some pro writing team to come up with hits for you.
Oh a little side note, Pat Boone was so straight laced that even though he ripped a black guys song like so many artists of the time did, he balked at using the word ain’t because it wasn’t proper grammar.

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