1 May 2010
Hey guys, long time no see, hope all is well. I was wondering if anyone had any information or just thoughts in general about what the Beatles were like as individual musicians. Anthology and other sources seem to focus mostly on musical influences then on the actual work that those guys put in to become so great. But when they were alone, how did they approach their instruments? Was it through constantly learning other people's songs and styles and then gradually developing their own or something else? Even basic questions haven't really been answered, how much time did they put in a day on their instrument, what instrument did Paul make his main focus? It's easy to say bass but I think that was more in the group setting, but then again maybe they just developed as a group together rather than seperately and then coming together. But you still have to have individual drive as a musician. As you can see, my thoughts are a mess.
I'm also curious about George Martin's role on John and Paul, John says that they learned a lot from George but doesn't really say exactly what. Paul developed a bag of tricks with his chord knowledge, but where did that come from? He obviously couldn't have looked them up on the internet.
Also by growing I don't necessarily mean young as musicians are always growing, so any information or thoughts from any point in their lives would be greatly appreciated.
1 May 2010
I feel Paul learnt a lot about piano playing from George Martin; he eventually developed a style which can be seen in nearly all of his piano based songs where the left hand steadily plunks away in octave-jumps while the right hand plays the melody (Let Em In, Lady Madonna, Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty Five, Martha My Dear, Listen to What The Man Said, and more I can't think of). This seems to have come from George Martin's introducing the baroque style to the Beatles' sound, but it also works as a groovy, bluesy honky-tonk kind of thing like Fats Domino or Ray Charles. It seems Paul composed most on the piano, whereas John favoured guitar, although John did say he wrote a lot of songs on the piano at Kenwood.
John and Paul both learned to fingerpick from Donovan in Rishikesh, although John learnt directly; Donovan has said that he reckons Paul was watching on the sly to pick up some new skills, and they certainly did both develop their own styles of clawhammer acoustic picking in that period. George's guitar playing obviously improved the most over the course of the Beatles' career, probably because their later work required more challenging lines; I feel he may have learned a couple of things from his friendship with Clapton, moving onto the psychedelic, slide-guitar lead sound rather than the Chet Atkins country-esque solos he played in the early days.
1 May 2011
Paul had some musical input from his dad i believe, he was certainly in a band was Pauls dad. Tho Pauls dad bought him a trumpet initially. Since Paul knew how to tune a guitar and a few chords when he met John he must have learned from somewhere before.
Learning new songs they would listen to records repeatedly, either on disc or the radio, and try and work out the sound. Presumably they would then use these when composing their own songs, as has been said a number of times The Beatles were the biggest stealers of chords, riffs etc in music. Paul told the story in the Anthology of how John and Paul, maybe George as well, would travel across Liverpool to learn a new chord from another musician. Also the bands in liverpool were very friendly so would learn off each other. Their biggest development musically was in Germany when they were playing for 10 hours a day together on stage and socialising with better singers and bands. They soaked up everything, could experiment with their own songs and see what worked, and did whatever they wanted on stage.
12 March 2010
As mentioned, Paul learned to play the piano long before he met George Martin. He said his Dad used to play a lot of old classics to the family in some kind of sing-along events, and sometimes Paul would have to do that – without knowing the right chords… He played the piano in Hamburg already with the Beatles.
Another typical piano style is the "pattern on the four beats" (musical theory in English is a bi… for me!).
Examples are Waterfalls, Wanderlust, Mabye I'm amazed, Live and let die.
Anybody understands what I'm saying? "da-da-da-da" Music is soooo much easier to make than to explain…
He taught himself to play the guitar, at first playing a right-hand guitar when he realized he couldn't ge the rhythm right – so he turned it upside down.
Being a true guitarist helped him to develop his melodic, lead bass playing after he took over from Sutcliffe.
Needless to say that Paul is able to play about every instrument: trumpet, recorder (Fool on the hill), flugel horn, drums…
Before playing guitar John learned to play the Banjo, I think his mum taught him.
I guess it was impossible to be a Beatle and NOT pick up how to play lots of other instruments with all this fooling around and experimentation.
And of course there was EVERYTHING at Abbey Road, all instruments imaginable.
As mentioned, the Beatles SOAKED in every new sound the liked or found interesting and made it their own!
10 August 2011
Gniknus said, "just thoughts in general about what the Beatles were like as individual musicians"
I never stop to marvel at how great they were with their instruments without the slightest formal training.
Of equal – no greater- importance was their inventiveness.
Being more of a guitarist than a pianist, I'm in awe of all those guitar licks from beginning to end (and into the solo years)
[without ignoring Martha My Dear, Lady Madonna, etc....]
1 May 2010
Thanks mith, great to hear from you!
Paul really is a fascinating story, he had such style on all those instruments. Even drums, no he wasn't perfect but it would be hard to say that he didn't have style. It reminds me of that scene from Help where they all go to their individual activities and Paul just goes to that organ or whatever it is. I just always imagine him on an instrument and I really don't think there's any big secret as to why he turned out so good.
I'm also reminded of that Radiohead song, what's it called…How I Made My Millions where Thom is just noodling on piano with melody ideas. We have hints of it with some Lennon bootlegs but I would absolutely kill to hear the long lost McCartney tapes with him just noodling. The closest we get is that opening scene from Let it Be with him on piano.
George's style is really interesting too because of how it changed. I'd agree that Clapton changed him but you'd have to imagine that the sitar really influenced his guitar playing as well. I've never played sitar so I really have no idea but I'd have to imagine that slide guitar is similar to playing a sitar. What's that quote from George, 'the problem with music today is that no one pays attention to tone' or something like that. I don't know when he said that but tone was always his biggest influence as opposed to how many notes he could fit in a solo.
Who do you guys think had the most style? I'd honestly say Ringo, that man is badass.
1 December 2009
Hey gniknus, welcome back! Was momentarily thinking of you recently while listening to the Meters. (Hate Radiohead tho, lol.)
Among personal musical development, I'm impressed with how John became more confident with his keyboard skills – going from the what-the-hell bashing around of "I'm Down" to something like "Hey Bulldog" or "Ob La Di" where his piano basically drives the entire song. (George/Paul/Ringo obviously became more proficient and subtle on their main axes as well, but with John it seemed like more of a case of something-from-nothing because his keyboard playing was basically a bit of an unknown quantity at first. Or something…I don't know…)
1 May 2010
Hey Von, good to hear from you. It doesn't get much funkier than the Meters, I recently heard their cover of Come Together and thought it was okay, although the Meters best stuff is most certainly their early instrumentals.
John's skills on the keys are an interesting progression because I think at first he had that Jerry Lee Lewis wild influence that looks like so much fun. I'm much more of a guitarist but what I've noticed on piano is that improvement is like a quiting of the hands, you gradually slow things down. So we see his early wild stuff which progresses to fairly straightforward but effective riffs like Hey Bulldog and then he turns in a more complete accompanying piano with something like Imagine. I'd have to imagine that Yoko, who was a classically trained pianist, certainly helped John's development. I read a book called Songwriters on Songwriting and she was in there and she talked about something she taught John…something about flat sevenths or something along those lines.
I think Real Love is a sign of how good John could have gotten had he not been killed and had he committed more to piano then guitar which is what he did from '75 on. Ah well.
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