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Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by juancaminos, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    USA, Phoenix, AZ
    Tom Bomb, ObsessiveArcher and Oddly like this.
  2. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    It's not like you can write a key change in a song of yours without noticing. Now, whether they knew a change was/is called 'to the parallel minor', as opposed to "it turns minor here" depends on their degree of familiarity with the jargon.
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Considering the depth and expanse of their respective catalogs, I would find it more surprising that they didn't know what they were doing.
  4. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Thank you.
    I'm bookmarking that link...I know precious little about theory but it's nice to know the why of how some songs just work.
  5. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    It is of course also possible to know what you're doing without either knowing what it's called, or the exact rationale for why you're doing it. I was in a masterclass with Bobby Vega in March, and he was just killing it. Someone in the audience asked him a musical question, and his answer was (I'm paraphrasing) "Hey, I don't know what any of this is called, I just play."
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

  7. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    IMO, at that time, they probably just stumbled on to something they thought sounded good. I seriously doubt they were thinking with a theory hat on. I believe they were sharp enough to be able to learn form their discoveries and apply that to the next wave of exploration, but I seriously doubt they were thinking "ooh yeah, let's transpose to the minor 6th for this section".

    Theory (which is exactly what the article is talking about) is more used to analyze what others have stumbled on and explain why it works: theory would help me to create a song in the same vein as somebody else, but is probably rarely used to develop something new.
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  8. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    That's a nice "theory" but I assure you the Fifth Beatle knew exactly what he was doing.
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  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Like great authors, poets, and painters, great musicians mostly create from within and then replicate it on an instrument.

    I mean, writers don't peck around on a type writer to see what happens.

    I think it's the one-hit-wonders who stumble on to something that sounds good and has a message.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  10. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Hey @JRA, I see you're done with words! :)
  11. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I'm gonna say it was probably less the artist and more the producer. Like Macca saying: "Hey, we should do something different here" and George Martin saying, "Yes, Paul, you should modulate to the Am".
    juancaminos likes this.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Sunny by Bobby Hebb
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  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


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  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Paul McCartney has a voracious musical appetite. By the time he was in the studio recording Beatles albums, Paul had already digested hundreds if not thousands of popular songs, across many genres. I am absolutely certain that Paul understands the concept of "modulation" and that he has a large musical vocabulary of different types of modulation. Here is a partial list of cover songs performed by The Beatles: List of songs covered by the Beatles - Wikipedia

    @Stumbo said it best: "writers don't peck around on a type writer to see what happens."
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  15. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    No, but musicians do. I'm not going to pretend that I know what someone else is thinking when developing a new song, but I just can't imagine it often starts with theoretical musing.

    I've had plenty of theory education (studied in college). Anything I've ever written came from good old fashioned noodling. As something develops that I like, I keep that and then keep exploring from there. Eventually, a string of ideas get combined together that feel like a "song".

    If music creation stemmed from pure theory, we wouldn't have any new ideas. What if nobody thought to explore beyond the I IV V or ii V I patterns because that would be against the "rules"? All the songs would sound the same and the artform would just dissolve. Sure some patterns will get the first pass because they are proven, comfortable and theoretically "correct", but that comes more from experience than from thinking theoretically.

    And while a mid-song modulation may alter the listener's mood, it's my opinion that most modulations in pop music are just a cheap way to add another 30 seconds to a song with very little effort.

    And of course the Beatle's camp knew what they were doing and I have no doubt that Paul had a very rich musical background. But that doesn't mean that every time he/they sat down to write a song they were thinking analytically - I'd bet they were being creative and just found new ways to string chords together in a pleasing manner.
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  16. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    it's the same as painting when you react to marks that were previously made in the composition
    RiffwRiter likes this.
  17. tr4252


    May 27, 2013
    I remember reading somewhere that none of The Beatles could "read one note" of music. Not sure about the Rolling Stones, but I think they were also musically illiterate. On the other hand, Michael Hedges, Judith Durham, Eric Johnson and others were educated musically, and it seems that education or no education is less relevant in pop music genres. What counts is what they chose to use out of all the possibilities that exist, and how familiar they were with their instruments of choice. Whether you think an interval is a fourth or "third fret to eighth fret" may be less important than your grasp of music composition and popular tastes.

    Of course, J. S. Bach or Johan Strauss might disagree.

    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were musically educated in my opinion! But theirs was a "vocational" as opposed to "liberal arts" type of education: learning covers, writing originals, recording in the studio, and playing gigs.

    There's a world of difference between being "musically illiterate" vs. "musically ignorant." Just because someone can't read music notation doesn't preclude them from having a highly educated musical mind.
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  19. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    They didn’t write them down at all. They remembered them.

    In their early years, Lennon and McCartney wrote songs together and one of their rules was that if they wrote a song but then couldn’t remember how it went, they’d junk it. Since they were trying to write songs that were catchy, this rule worked very well. They wrote words down and changed them on the page, and they might scribble guitar chord names above the words, but as far as the tunes and guitar parts were concerned, they just remembered them.

    Later, when their songs were going to be published, they were transcribed by other people. George Martin was writing down the melody of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, which is in G, and in the line ‘And I’ve been working like a dog’, he couldn’t figure out what note Lennon was singing; I would characterise it as an untempered F. Martin asked Lennon if it was E or F, and Lennon replied ‘Yeah, one of those.’ He went with F:

    Later, they recorded themselves on tape recorders. A bootleg called It’s Not Too Bad contains Lennon’s demo recordings of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, from him poking around on a guitar in a Spanish hotel room when it was barely a song, all the way to the final mixes.

    For instrumental parts played by others, Martin wrote arrangements.

    The Beatles couldn’t read or write music, not in the 60s at any rate. They might have done well to learn, but they got by pretty well without that particular set of skills.
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  20. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
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