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Odd time signatures
10 June 2012
9.25pm
Artie Fisk
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Oh, snap! Forgot about them.  Yeah, I guess Baby's In Black has to be 6/8, doesn't it?  Never thought about it before, but you're right. Very jazzy, that beat, amongst the folk-rocking, innit?

 

Now that I count it, yep, I Want You (She's So Heavy) ends in 6/8, too.  Oh! Darling, too. 

 

Damn, I've gotta ungunk my ears.  Need to go back and really LISTEN for these things. 

 

***

 

So, I ought to credit Pollack for his work properly:

 

My post on the shifting time signatures in GMGM is a summary of work done by the estimable Mr. Alan W. Pollack, copyright (C) 1996, and findable here:

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~sounds.....m.shtml#q1

 

If ANY of you who are musicians and Beatle fans haven't spent a good chunk of time perusing Mr. Pollack's work, you SHOULD.  There's a very nice website with multiple ways to access his analyses here:

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~sounds.....s_on.shtml

 

I have contacted Mr. Pollack (but not heard back from him) to suggest that he consider publishing his "Notes On" series in book form.  If he ever does, it will sit on my Beatles reference shelf, right next to the Lewisohn, the Anthology, Andy Babiuk's Beatles Gear, and Geoff Emerick's book.  I bow to his ears and his wisdom. 

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy: All You Need Is Love"
11 June 2012
2.17am
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Very interesting....

Although I can see it as a good music theory exercise,  I still wonder why in the 21st century this would matter.

I can see how in the days before recorded music a musician could only go by sheet music; the meter would indicate the cadence.

But today?

Any thoughts on this?

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
11 June 2012
5.13am
Artie Fisk
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Well, if you're playing it with a band, you need to know where the downbeats are. When the meter changes with every measure, it's hard to get it right unless you have sussed out the meter changes, and practiced it.  Much easier to practice something like this if you can count it, or it is for me.  I find that if I can memorize the counts to where I really have it "under my fingers," I can then turn off my brain, and don't need to count any more.  Music theory exercise or not, you can't play someone else's song "correctly" unless you can analyze it properly. 

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy: All You Need Is Love"
11 June 2012
9.32am
Ben Ramon
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Joe said
Yep, Pollack's articles are brilliant. I've thought about republishing them on this site - apparently it's OK to do so with a correct credit and back link (ie creative commons, though I don't think he used the term).

Isn't Oh! Darling in 6/8? What about the end of I Want You (SSH), Baby's In Black, Yes It Is, the final bit of MMT?

EDIT: Although George described it as a waltz, I always though I Me Mine was in 6/8. How about Long Long Long? I think that might actually be 3/4, on reflection. And I'm undecided about Yer Blues - that could be 4/4 with a swing beat, or perhaps 12/8.

Maybe you should contact Pollack and ask if you haven't already? They're pretty essential reading for any Beatlesmaniac who has an interest in the more in depth musical aspect of the songs.

Paul described Baby's In Black as a waltz too. I guess it shows that for all their genius they weren't too clued in on the little details of the theory a-hard-days-night-george-10I think 12/8 would be the appropriate counting for Yer Blues if you were to transcribe it to sheet music, but the way the Beatles play it I think they were imagining it in 4/4 with the swing beat as you described- John's count of "2, 3" at the beginning suggests this, although Ringo rides the cymbal in 12/8 and Paul's bass chugs along at the same rate.

I always thought of Yes It Is in 4/4 but now I realize I was wrong, it's in a pretty fast 6/8 to these ears.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
11 June 2012
1.13pm
meanmistermustard
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This stuff goes way over my head, all the 3/4 and 7/8's. Have never understood the indepth musical note stuff and would never be able to identify an a# from a g.

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19 August 2012
12.32am
LTJX
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Joe said
I think George was certainly conscious of the changes, as he'd studied Indian music with Ravi Shankar. That's why Here Comes The Sun is so interesting in its rhythms. I'd imagine McCartney was also aware of the rules and how to break them, but Lennon less so.

I've read before that in writing a song Paul tended to come up with the main melody and most of the instrumental parts first.  When the instrumental music was done, Paul would then go looking for words that fit into his new song (or lyrics that "scanned" well as the Beatles would sometimes say).

On the other hand, John was always very much a man of words (he had 2 books published during 1963-65).  And John tended to develop a new song's lyrics first along with some basic chords, and then gradually build up the musical parts to fit around his words.

Some have suggested this fundamental difference in songwriting styles as a major explanation for the irregular structure and odd timing aspects in many of John's songs, compared to those of Paul.

1 November 2012
1.14pm
Funny Paper
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My apologies if someone mentioned this already (but I browsed through this topic and didn't see it):

 

The ending of "Mean Mr. Mustard" has a cool transition from 4/4 into 3/4 as it blends into "Polythene Pam".

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1 November 2012
1.28pm
Funny Paper
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McLerristarr said
All You Need Is Love has time signatures of 7/4, 4/4 and 6/4.  Apparently it was the first (and one of only two) songs with a 7/4 time signature to reach the top 20 in the USA.

Though according to Wikipedia jazz legend Dave Brubeck's song Unsquare Dance only made #74 on the Billboard chart (I think in 1961), it remains the gold standard of 7/4 songs (not that there's much competition):

 

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/635918

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12 October 2013
5.35pm
parlance
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Reviving this thread because someone was helping me understand time signatures with "Baby's In Black," and whether or not it was 3/4 or 6/8. I had a breakthrough, and now I find this thread fascinating.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

13 October 2013
4.32am
Funny Paper
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parlance, 6/8 and 3/4 are really the same thing one one level: "do the math" -- 6/8 is just twice 3/4.  Usually, a song with /8 is double-tempo, twice as fast.  If one were counting "Oh Darling!" as 3/4, it would just be twice as many measures, but it still works out the same as 6/8.

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13 October 2013
5.27am
parlance
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^^ Yeah, that I knew, I wanted to understand why one would use the 6/8 signature as opposed to 3/4 and I have a better understanding now.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

11 November 2013
4.53pm
vectisfabber
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said
Very interesting....

Although I can see it as a good music theory exercise,  I still wonder why in the 21st century this would matter.

I can see how in the days before recorded music a musician could only go by sheet music; the meter would indicate the cadence.

But today?

Any thoughts on this?

It's fine as long as it is being played by a group who are happy to play a piece they already know by ear.  But if you have a group who don't know the piece, sheet music is pretty much essential.

My personal favourite here is She Said She Said, where it feels as if the change from 4:4 to 3:4 kicks in at "When I was a boy" whereas it actually kicks in 2 bars earlier with "No no no, you're wrong."

23 April 2014
1.03am
Funny Paper
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Got directed (or redirected) to this discussion after I posted my topic about 5/4 time.  I knew in the back of my mind this old topic existed, but I couldn't find it.

Lots of information and ideas here to sift through, at a later date.  For starters about the motley time signatures of "Good Morning, Good Morning":

"Ultimately, I have to conclude that John just heard it this way in his head, and played it how he heard it.  I can't imagine him counting it like that. "

I more or less agree.  Some songwriters would have heard it that way initially, then would have recoiled at all the "wrong" time signatures (i.e., not following 4/4 uniformly from measure to measure), and would have said, "well, we have to adjust things here to make the whole thing fit".  John must have had the open-minded sense of creativity to say, "why not just do it as it seemed most natural to me at the start, and a fig on 'correct' time signatures!").  And his initial sense of the song one can chalk up to the mysteriously divine inspiration from the Muse of music.

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4 September 2014
8.31am
Funny Paper
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I finally got around to listening carefully to "Good Morning, Good Morning" and following along with the helpful instructions of the weird time beats by Artie Fisk above (basing it on Alan Pollack).

Very cool of John to come up with that.  I never cease to find new things about Beatles songs that amaze and amuse me!

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5 September 2014
7.56pm
Zig
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Funny Paper said

I never cease to find new things about Beatles songs that amaze and amuse me!

meanmistermustard said the same thing elsewhere (and I agree!) when he said, "the more I hear the Beatles, the more I hear the Beatles".a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

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