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Learning Beatles songs
#3036521 04/03/20 03:15 PM
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The Beatles have always been a major influence of mine. They're one of the reasons I became a musician - I heard She Loves You when I was really young and it blew my tiny mind, then saw Help when I was 6 and living on an Army base in Germany and have never been the same since... cool

I've known how to play a bunch of their songs for a long time, (both on my own and in bands), but as mainly a keyboard player I haven't really gone as deep into their catalog as I could have. There are some that I like to play on acoustic guitar, too. However, that all kinda changed when I a) started a Beatles jam band with a bunch of music industry folks, b) bought a Telecaster and c) then got confined to quarters.

I've been trying to learn one or two songs a day. I typically try to play the tunes in question on both guitar and keyboards (depending on the tune, of course) and frequently attempt to sing them as well. MAN, I'm having the best fun. There is nothing quite like stepping up to a mic with an electric guitar and belting out Can't Buy Me Love....and do NOT get me started on what a buzz it is to play through Golden Slumbers. love

I played through Side One (yes, I still think of records that way) of Help! yesterday. The European version without the soundtrack stuff, I mean - Help! through to Ticket to Ride. Working on nailing all of Side One of Sgt. Pepper's, too. Did you ever try to really sing the title track of Sgt. Pepper's? You gotta dig deep, man... grin

Anybody else ever get lost in learning to play Beatles songs?

dB

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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036531 04/03/20 03:24 PM
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Yes, I am in a jam band that does quite a few Beatles tunes and they are probably my favorites among the others that we do. We do Golden Slumbers and I sing it. I have a somewhat high vocal range and usually end up singing all the Paul M. songs.

One of the most difficult Beatles songs that this jam band attempts to do and that really takes effort and time to do correctly is "I want You (she's so heavy)"

Enjoy your Beatles immersion Dave !


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036533 04/03/20 03:29 PM
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I don't sing, but there's about 50 beatles songs in my solo piano repertoire. There is not a more sure-fired way to reach an audience, any audience. When I'm on a solo piano gig and feel like I'm starting to lose people's attention (it happens more than I'd like to admit), I always know how to get them back.


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036534 04/03/20 03:34 PM
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I sing several Beatles numbers at home. Great well written songs, fun to work on! smile


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Adan #3036535 04/03/20 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Adan
I don't sing, but there's about 50 beatles songs in my solo piano repertoire. There is not a more sure-fired way to reach an audience, any audience. When I'm on a solo piano gig and feel like I'm starting to lose people's attention (it happens more than I'd like to admit), I always know how to get them back.

+1. Lose people's attention or reharm a standard more than is "acceptable." I find that with The Beatles stuff being "my generation's" music, I have that right to mess with them legitimately. So it's always home base for me.


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036549 04/03/20 04:04 PM
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I like working on a piano-only cover of Lady Madonna. It takes some effort to get it all going right (especially since I don't usually have a lot of left-hand work going on playing in a band). It's a lot of fun, and it's a great song for piano - when I play it right!

Last edited by Math&Music; 04/03/20 04:08 PM.

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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036551 04/03/20 04:15 PM
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I recall one band--frankly, I was perhaps the best musician in the group and that is NOT a good thing!--where someone said, let's do a beatles tune, pick one we can work up quickly. "I've always wanted to do Oh Darling, that's basically a blues song!" ....oh, **** no it isn't, at least as far as the number of chords in it. Beatles songs have that ability to sound "normal" but when you find out the chords under the melodies, sometimes you think "man, that really shouldn't work there"--but it does.

A more modern example of a rock songwriter whose songs are like this is Chris Cornell, especially the tunes on Euphoria Morning (one of my very favorite albums).

Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036565 04/03/20 05:34 PM
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How about some Stones song. Their catalog is as large and have a lot of great tunes.


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Math&Music #3036567 04/03/20 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Math&Music
I like working on a piano-only cover of Lady Madonna. It takes some effort to get it all going right (especially since I don't usually have a lot of left-hand work going on playing in a band). It's a lot of fun, and it's a great song for piano - when I play it right!
I've got that one down cold. 2thu

I even have a setup on my Forte that lets me bring in the the ba ba ba backing vocals (stacked under the piano in that range only, volume controlled by footpedal) using the Manhattan Transfer sample set.

Originally Posted by Outkaster
How about some Stones song. Their catalog is as large and have a lot of great tunes.
I played in a Stones cover band a while back. I know a bunch of those...

dB

Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036571 04/03/20 05:46 PM
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A couple of my old friends were Beatles FANATICs and later huge Eagles fans, these guys love good vocal harmonies. So they started a cover band called... Yup you guessed it The Beagles.

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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036589 04/03/20 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
I even have a setup on my Forte that lets me bring in the the ba ba ba backing vocals (stacked under the piano in that range only, volume controlled by footpedal) using the Manhattan Transfer sample set.
dB
Cool - is the Manhattan Transfer sample set built into the Forte, or an external library? I’m wondering if I can get it for my PC4.


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Redwave #3036590 04/03/20 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Redwave
Cool - is the Manhattan Transfer sample set built into the Forte, or an external library? I’m wondering if I can get it for my PC4.
Used to be an external library for older Kurz stuff, now it's in the Forte's factory wave ROM.

My band plays Lady Madonna, and the first time I did that with the ba ba backing vox (used to just use piano on the Forte, playing horn parts on my Kronos), everybody was really pleased because they thought we all nailed it - they had no idea what I was doing with the expression pedal because I normally use it for overall volume. grin

I do the same thing with horns under the piano part in Golden Slumbers (string ensemble on the Kronos). cool

dB

Re: Learning Beatles songs
Math&Music #3036597 04/03/20 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Math&Music
I like working on a piano-only cover of Lady Madonna. It takes some effort to get it all going right (especially since I don't usually have a lot of left-hand work going on playing in a band). It's a lot of fun, and it's a great song for piano - when I play it right!
That was one of the first tunes I learned when I really got into playing the piano (Let It Be was the very first) and it became -- and remains, really -- my solo piano party piece. Won a middle school talent show performing it, and I credit that with my shift in identity from "geek" to "rock and roll guy (who is also kind of a geek)" during my early teen years...

The Beatles are my favorite band, and my most overwhelming influence, and that's the case for many of my musician friends. So it never ceases to collectively amaze us, every time we try to learn one of their songs that we've been listening to for our entire lives, how deceptively complex -- or deceptively simple? -- so much of their catalogue is. Every tune has at least one little twist that I would never intuit, either "oh, I can't believe it's that simple to make it sound right, I never would have thought of that" or "how the hell did they come up with that?!"


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036598 04/03/20 07:26 PM
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I play in a Beatles tribute. Make sure you get the Bible (the thousand-plus pages book with all the parts of all the songs), it's an unbelievable schoolbook on pop and rock music theory.

Their vocal harmonies are crazy. And Sir George Martin was a f***ng genius.

And yes, as others have said it's crazy how even the apparently simple songs always have some trick that surprises you.

When you want a good challenge, try learning the solo of In My Life. All eight gddmn bars of it grin

Re: Learning Beatles songs
Spider76 #3036603 04/03/20 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Spider76
When you want a good challenge, try learning the solo of In My Life. All eight gddmn bars of it grin
Is that all it is? I remember shedding it for weeks a few years ago, and I could *almost* play it at half-speed (which, to be fair, is the tempo at which George Martin played it).


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036607 04/03/20 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
I even have a setup on my Forte that lets me bring in the the ba ba ba backing vocals (stacked under the piano in that range only, volume controlled by footpedal) using the Manhattan Transfer sample set.

dB

You mean Take 6, right?

confused

Re: Learning Beatles songs
samuelblupowitz #3036609 04/03/20 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by samuelblupowitz
Originally Posted by Spider76
When you want a good challenge, try learning the solo of In My Life. All eight gddmn bars of it grin
Is that all it is? I remember shedding it for weeks a few years ago, and I could *almost* play it at half-speed (which, to be fair, is the tempo at which George Martin played it).

I had a wedding a few months ago, and that tune was the couple's first dance. I re-shedded the solo (I've dabbled with it for decades) and really surprised my band when I played it. LH wasn't perfect, but no one was listening that critically. I felt rightfully proud of that moment.

Jerry

Re: Learning Beatles songs
drawback #3036611 04/03/20 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by drawback
Originally Posted by Adan
I don't sing, but there's about 50 beatles songs in my solo piano repertoire. There is not a more sure-fired way to reach an audience, any audience. When I'm on a solo piano gig and feel like I'm starting to lose people's attention (it happens more than I'd like to admit), I always know how to get them back.

+1. Lose people's attention or reharm a standard more than is "acceptable." I find that with The Beatles stuff being "my generation's" music, I have that right to mess with them legitimately. So it's always home base for me.

I agree. I adapt some of their tunes for solo piano... my top two are Blackbird (I do it as a medium to up tempo latin feel) and Here Comes The Sun (I try to go a bit Dave Grusin on it, if that makes sense). In a solo piano context I think these types of liberties are OK. YMMV.

Jerry

Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036614 04/03/20 08:05 PM
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There was a fearlessness to their writing that was born partially of being rich and invincible, partially of being insanely internally competitive, partially of being right in the midst of the mainstreaming of the inane and avant-garde, and partially of being populated by four restless, mentally ill disaffected souls with a congenital and gleeful lack of respect.


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
jerrythek #3036615 04/03/20 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jerrythek
Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
I even have a setup on my Forte that lets me bring in the the ba ba ba backing vocals (stacked under the piano in that range only, volume controlled by footpedal) using the Manhattan Transfer sample set.

You mean Take 6, right?

confused
I seem to remember having both in that ancient vast (okay, pun intended) collection of Kurz discs and drives I've amassed over the years...but for some reason it stuck in my head that the ones in the ROM were MT. Now that you mention Take 6 though, I believe you're right.

dB

Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036616 04/03/20 08:07 PM
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You might like brother Jazzooo & Co's version of RAIN up there in Shameless Plugs (under "New Mixes").

There are so many great Beatles tunes to explore. Some of my favourites are early ones ie: Yes It Is, If I Fell, You're Gonna Lose That Girl ... contain deceptive key changes.


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036618 04/03/20 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Originally Posted by Math&Music
I like working on a piano-only cover of Lady Madonna. It takes some effort to get it all going right (especially since I don't usually have a lot of left-hand work going on playing in a band). It's a lot of fun, and it's a great song for piano - when I play it right!
I've got that one down cold. 2thu

I even have a setup on my Forte that lets me bring in the the ba ba ba backing vocals (stacked under the piano in that range only, volume controlled by footpedal) using the Manhattan Transfer sample set.
dB
Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
My band plays Lady Madonna, and the first time I did that with the ba ba backing vox (used to just use piano on the Forte, playing horn parts on my Kronos), everybody was really pleased because they thought we all nailed it - they had no idea what I was doing with the expression pedal because I normally use it for overall volume. grin
dB
Very nice! I guess I have some more work to do! laugh


Joe
Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036619 04/03/20 08:15 PM
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Yeah, it's so hard to put a Beatles song in the same place they did, most people I know who cover them choose to try and do something different.

Here's a version of It's Only Love I did a few years back. I went with a sort of Springsteen vibe...except the chorus, where I stole the groove (specifically the drum part) directly from the Genesis tune Home By The Sea.

dB

Re: Learning Beatles songs
samuelblupowitz #3036620 04/03/20 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by samuelblupowitz
Originally Posted by Math&Music
I like working on a piano-only cover of Lady Madonna. It takes some effort to get it all going right (especially since I don't usually have a lot of left-hand work going on playing in a band). It's a lot of fun, and it's a great song for piano - when I play it right!
That was one of the first tunes I learned when I really got into playing the piano (Let It Be was the very first) and it became -- and remains, really -- my solo piano party piece.
Yes, exactly, that's my intention too. Since I don't practice much solo piano stuff, I'd like to have a few things up my sleeve (namely, Lady Madonna and Linus and Lucy) to call on if somebody says, "oh, you play the piano, let's hear something." Unfortunately, I don't even practice these enough to be able to play them out of the blue. Fortunately, no one ever asks! laugh


Joe
Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036621 04/03/20 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Yeah, it's so hard to put a Beatles song in the same place they did, most people I know who cover them choose to try and do something different.

Here's a version of It's Only Love I did a few years back. I went with a sort of Springsteen vibe...except the chorus, where I stole the groove (specifically the drum part) directly from the Genesis tune Home By The Sea.

dB
Yeah, you can definitely hear both the Beatles and Springsteen in there - very nice!


Joe
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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036623 04/03/20 08:40 PM
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I have friends in Fresno who started a Beatles tribute band. 4 pieces - all good singers and guitar, bass, keys, drums.

Every six months or so they would do one show and sell out. They'd play an entire album all the way through. They didn't look like the Beatles but they sounded like them.

Some things that sound simple are tricky, the groove on Come Together has been hosed by many attempters!

And it sounds simple but try and get the sound of Please Please Me? Yikes!!!!

If and when I do a Beatles cover I just play it like me. No sense in pretending.

My all time favorie cover of a Beatles tune, bar none - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvLFAbxTNJA


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036635 04/03/20 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
saw Help when I was 6 and living on an Army base in Germany

OT but I can't help it:

What army base? I was born when my dad was stationed in Nuremburg. I don't remember meeting you, but then again, we departed Germany before I turned 1.

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samuelblupowitz #3036638 04/03/20 09:53 PM
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My band played In My Life a few years ago, but we've since dropped it. The "played at half speed" story...seriously? I played the harpsi part and it's not that hard or fast. And that's not bragging because I'm not that good. But the band is; we nailed the vocals!


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Re: Learning Beatles songs
Dave Bryce #3036639 04/03/20 09:54 PM
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I was in a band that performed side 2 of Abbey Road including the 14 second pause before Her Majesty. A ridiculous amount of fun.

Re: Learning Beatles songs
rockinredeye #3036649 04/03/20 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by rockinredeye
The "played at half speed" story...seriously? I played the harpsi part and it's not that hard or fast.!

Yup, it is certainly true... read about it first in the very completest The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewinsohn. As an example, it's not a harpsichord, it's a piano. But recording at half-speed and then speeding it back up changed the timbre...

George Martin was not a pianist per se, and he had trouble getting it right at the tempo.

Funny, when I went looking for a source to quote for my reply I found this video, and thought it would be an explanation from George himself about how he did it:

In My Life solo

Jerry

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