The Beatles are legendary, and Robert Thompson, President of Wise Music/G. Schirmer Inc should know. The two-time Grammy-nominated Producer and Musician was a former college professor, and taught a graduate seminar on the music of The Beatles. Most recently though, he worked with Sony and The Beatles official photo archive to create and produce “Revolution: The Music of the Beatles”, a live immersive symphonic project was has been called “The Best Live Beatles experience ever” by the Detroit Free Press. Here he shares five facts most fans don’t know about their favorite band.
“It’s only three-seconds long, but no one has really been able to figure out exactly what makes the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night’ sound the way it does. I was able to listen to the original four-track master at Abbey Road and there’s much more going on then people realize. I could right an entire book on just that chord!”
“For hundreds of years, most of music has been composed in 4 or 8 bar phrases. Think of those symmetrical phrases as the building blocks of music as we know it: Bach, Beethoven, Rodgers & Hammerstein, John Williams, Bob Dylan, etc. But when Paul wrote the song “Yesterday”, he wrote a 7-bar phrase. It’s highly unusual and very hard to do. I actually had my songwriting students when I taught college try to compose a 7-bar phrase that sounded natural. It’s near impossible. But Sir Paul did!”
“Musically, The Beatles would never have reached their potential without George Martin. And George Martin was not a rock guy…he was a composer/arranger with a classical background. But that’s what made it work: Sir George Martin brought a unique and singular skillset to the band. And he allowed them to experiment, write their own songs (which was unusual then) and not follow the mold of other bands who had but one lead singer.”
“The Beatles were constantly moving forward, throwing out everything they had done in favor of experimenting and finding new paths. That’s extremely rare. There’s not a comparison for that in music…not even Mozart or Bach veered so far from where they started. Miles David is probably the only other artist I can think of whose musical trajectory changed and evolved so much in such a short time. From a musicological perspective, The Beatles are off the charts.”
“As President of Wise Music/G. Schirmer, I see how artists’ catalogs grow and evolve over the decades. There’s no analog however for The Beatles, for whom their music remains as strong today (and in some cases strong now than its ever been). Their music is as fresh today as it was in the 1960’s.”