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Keys that The Beatles used (now that you've found another key)
8 June 2017
5.19pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
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Dark Overlord said
Some of these things are going to be harder to sort out than you think.

Chronological is the easy one, just use the * thing that I showed you to add tracks like She Loves You and Paperback Writer to their related albums.

Thank you for that list!

By lead singer has a few tricky spots. For example, on Day Tripper , Paul sings lead during the verses but John sings lead during the choruses, so who do you label as lead there.

I label both of them. Nothing wrong with that?

By writer seems easy, I recommend putting it in chronological order when doing this. The only problem you’ll run into is when you realize there are writers or writer combinations that only contain one song such as the Lennon/McCartney/Starkey credit for What Goes On or the Lennon/Harrison credit on the instrumental Cry For A Shadow.

So I use multiple columns for multiple songwriting credits! 

Also, I don’t have Cry For A Shadow on the list. 

Good luck with guitar model, some are easy to determine, such as how George plays a Fender Stratocaster on Nowhere Man but others involve pure guesswork. Also, you’ll want to make 3 lists for this one, one for George, one for John, and one for Paul.

Yeah, that list might take longer. Maybe I do all the aforementioned ones (including piano) today, and then start work on guitar models tomorrow?

Any other useful ways of sorting it?

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8 June 2017
5.36pm
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Dark Overlord
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Sounds good for the lead vocalist, as long you remember that all 4 Beatles sing lead on Flying .

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8 June 2017
5.55pm
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Yes, I do remember about Flying !

I’ll put the lists up after my maths exam today!

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9 June 2017
2.28am
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Martha
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That’s an extremely interesting topic, thanks for bringing it up!paul-mccartney-thumb_gif

I wasn’t aware that so many Beatles songs are in A or E. Next to developing a favourite key and the handiness of a certain key when it comes to guitar playing or piano playing it is also very important to look at the inspiration the Beatles had in their youth. Because there were no tabs of any song available one had to figure out the chords of a song by ear and if these songs they were inspired by happened to be in one or two keys mostly that would mean that the Beatles would have come across this key a lot when listening to their favourite records and playing along. If this were the case and these keys were maybe A and E, this would partly explain their preference of those keys because you’re always influenced by what you listen to.

Therefore, I looked into the Anthology book and when talking about their favourite music as a teenager John says:

There have only been two great albums that I listened to all the way through when I was about sixteen. One was Carl Perkin’s first or second, I can’t remember which. And one was Elvis’s first. Those are the only ones on which I really enjoyed every single track.

And sure enough, when you look at the keys of every song in these two albums:

Carl Perkin’s first album by keys

Blue suede blues – A

Movie Magg – Eb

Sure to fall in love with you- A

Gone Gone Gone – A

Honey Don’t – E

Only you-C

All Mamas children – B

Tennessee – E

Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – E

Wrong YoYo -C or F? (couldn’t figure it out properly)

Matchbox – E

Your true love – E

Boppin the Blues- A

23% in A

38% in E

 

Elvis’s first album

Blue suede shoes-A

I got a woman-E

I’m counting on you-D

I’m left you’re right she’s gone-E

That’s alright-A

money honey-E

mystery train-E

I’m gonna sit right down and cry over you-C

trying to get you-E

one sided love affair-G

Lawdy miss clawdy-A

shake rattle and roll-E

25% in A

50% in E

Since especially the early albums of the Beatles where you could hear the influence of the music they heard in their teens quite strongly contain many songs in E and A, I think that the influence of their preferred music as a teenager plays a big role in their choice of keys. Later, when they became more experimental and wrote their own songs and discovered their own musical language, you can easily see from the charting the Beatles site that the percentage of songs in E, for example, decreases.

Now, one could wonder why so many of Elvis’s and Perkins’s songs are in A and E. I’ve read something about E being a very common key in Blues and since Rock’n’Roll is also heavily inspired by Blues this would make sense. However, I’ve got no idea why E was popular in Blues. You could probably argue with E being an easy key for guitar players again, though. 

As for the sorting, it will be fascinating to see whether the songs John mainly wrote are more often in E or A since I’ve only focused on John’s favourite album as a teenager. 

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Not once does the diversity seem forced -- the genius of the record is how the vaudevillian "When I'm 64" seems like a logical extension of "Within You Without You" and how it provides a gateway to the chiming guitars of "Lovely Rita. - Stephen T. Erlewine on Sgt Pepper's

9 June 2017
4.05am
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I didn’t know that about the early Beatles.  A and E chords seem very pop/rock guitar-friendly chords.  For one thing, both of them allow for the open strings without having to worry about dissonance or coloring the chord too much (if you’re playing in F, the open E strings force it into a major 7th sound).

I recently read that James Taylor for some reason doesn’t like to use the C major chord and tries to avoid it as much as possible; I find that odd.  He didn’t really say why in any clear sense.

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9 June 2017
4.15am
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That might be because C major on a guitar is very heavily based to E, and musically you should avoid stacking a chord to make the third (in this case, E) louder than the rest. 

Or it might be musical taste…

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9 June 2017
5.16am
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OK, first 5 lists are up! Check them out, tell me what you see think, suggest any corrections. 

Suggest any other ways of sorting them?

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9 June 2017
6.40am
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The lists are fab, thanks!apple01 Sorting by tempo is an interesting idea.

However, I think it would be nice to add the songwriters to the cover versions. I’ve put it in spoilers, if you think it’s unnecessary you can leave it the way it is though.

Mr. Moonlight

Roy Lee Johnson

F#

Kansas City – Hey Hey Hey!

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

G

Words Of Love

Buddy Holly

A

Honey Don’t

Carl Perkins

E

Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby

Carl Perkins

E

Act Naturally

Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison

G

Dizzy, Miss Lizzy

Larry Williams

A

Long Tall Sally

Little Richard

G

Slow Down

Larry Williams

C

Matchbox

Carl Perkins

A

Bad Boy

Larry Williams

C

Anna (Go to Him)

Arthur Alexander

D

Chains

Gerry Goffin and Carole King

Bb

Boys

Luther Dixon and Wes Farell

E

Baby It’s You

Luther Dixon, Mark Dvid, and Burt Bacharach

G

A Taste Of Honey

Robert William Scott

F#m

Twist And Shout

Bert Berns and Phil Medley

D

Till There Was You

Meredith Wilson

F

Please Mr. Postman

Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett,Freddie Gorman,Brian Holland, Robert Bateman

A

You Really Got A Hold On Me

Smokey Robinson

A

Devil In Her Heart

Richard Drapkin

G

Money (That’s What I Want)

Janie Bradford and Berry Gordy

E

Rock And Roll Music

Chuck Berry

A

Roll Over Beethoven

Chuck Berry

D

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9 June 2017
6.51am
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I have a few:

For the writers, it seems like you decided to use who actually wrote it instead of the official songwriting credits.

In the lead vocalists section, I’d recommend these changes:

I’d change Sun King , This Boy , and Nowhere Man from Lennon to Lennon with McCartney and Harrison.

Words Of Love from L and M to L, M, and H.

There’s A Place and Little Child from L and M to L with M.

Sgt. Pepper ‘s (Reprise) from L and M to L, M, H, and S.

Birthday from L and M to M with L.

Eight Days A Week , The Ballad Of John And Yoko , and Cry Baby Cry from Lennon with McCartney to just Lennon.

Don’t know why you put Lennon with Starr for Bungalow Bill, the verses are just John (except for the final verse which includes Yoko) and the choruses are all 4 Beatles and some other guests. I’d recommend changing it to just Lennon.

I’d change The Word from L, M, and H to L with M and H.

The End from McCartney to M with L and H.

Can’t Buy Me Love from McCartney with Lennon to McCartney, Lennon doesn’t sing at all on this song.

From Me To You from M with L and H to L and M.

Revolution 9 has vocalists, I’d either do various or Lennon with Harrison and Ono.

Just Lennon and McCartney sing the chorus of I Wanna Be Your Man , so I’d change that from Starr to S with L and M.

As with the actual keys, the only one that I noticed was off was Sgt. Pepper ‘s Reprise which you say is in G but actually, it starts in F and changes key to G halfway though the song, so I’d label it as F/G.

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9 June 2017
6.55am
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@Martha thank you, I’ve fixed that!

@Dark Overlord, Thank you very much! I shall attend to those errors tomorrow as I have to go to bed right now, so could someone please @tt me to do that? Thanks!

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9 June 2017
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Dark Overlord
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Time zones can sure get confusing, it’s 8AM over here but you’re about to go to bed. Anyways, thanks man.

By the way, I think Doctor Robert is in A for the verses and B for the bridge, so I’d do A/B.

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9 June 2017
8.53am
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Thanks for all your work on this thread, @The Hole Got Fixed. Also this can be your @tt to remember to make the suggested revisions.

Thanks for the info about the keys for the songs on the albums John liked, @Martha. We are all thankful for the artists who “raised” The Beatles musically.

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9 June 2017
8.55am
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Dark Overlord
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Do you plan an instrument @Ahhh Girl you haven’t mentioned it but you seem to be in love with this thread so it got me wondering.

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9 June 2017
10.34am
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I can’t even play the washboard, but for some reason this topic fascinates me. I guess it is because of the song lyrics to Baby You’re A Rich Man and to Alligator (Would you dare to find my key?).

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9 June 2017
5.42pm
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@Dark Overlord, your revisions have been made! Thank you again!

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9 June 2017
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The Hole Got Fixed said
That might be because C major on a guitar is very heavily based to E, and musically you should avoid stacking a chord to make the third (in this case, E) louder than the rest. 

Or it might be musical taste…  

If I understand you correctly, it makes it doubly ironic that James Taylor would dislike C major, since if you listen to his picking style over many songs and albums, he’s rather fond of “ringing” (i.e., plucking it with his fingernail) that open E string whenever he can.

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10 June 2017
4.37am
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It’s kind of like playing an E minor flat 6th omit 5, instead of C major. 

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10 June 2017
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sir walter raleigh
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@The Hole Got Fixed What Key did you put Mr. Kite in?

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10 June 2017
5.10pm
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@sir walter raleigh I put it in E minor (G major’s relative). 

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10 June 2017
5.18pm
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sir walter raleigh
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All my books have it in Am, and use accidentals, but it really doesn’t stay within a key. Its a tricky song to analyze. 

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