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Penny Lane - Brilliance


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I was playing around with The Beatles' (McCartney) song "Penny Lane" and I noticed, from a songwriting and arrangement perspective, some pop music genius.

 

A lot of Lennon/McCartney songs are like two songs put together and this one is too - although it's more likely McCartney/McCartney.

 

It starts off with a simple I vi ii V then goes minor with the classic McCartney descending bass line for a couple of measures until it hits the V again.

 

The the key changes from B down a full step to A for the chorus while the first line of the melody and the lyric from the verse repeat but a full step higher.

 

The form is simple with just two sections. The verse is always repeated but one repeat is the trumpet solo (brilliant in itself) so it never gets monotonous.

 

The final modulation, when the chorus ends with the same lead in to the verse (which is a full step higher that the chorus) but instead of going to the verse the chorus is repeated in the same key that the verse was throughout, is the pièce de résistance.

 

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I don't know who should get the most credit for this, Sir George or Sir Paul, but I think it's a brilliant collaboration where they were consistently able to bring out the best in each other.

 

 

 

 

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Edited by onelife
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This is a very short lesson on how and why Beatles work so well...and its simple, (for them):lol:

 

I've started trying it and I have a song sussed out that is starting to sound like I can make music.:p

Have 3 sections and repeat each one twice.

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What you mention is common place for me, probably because I grew up and was heavily influenced my music in the 60s.

 

Just listening to the pop stations they would go from playing Motown, to Spirit in the Sky then the Green Beret Theme song and then a Beatles tune. They didn't separate the music by genre because they hadn't separated the genres much yet and stations tried to play to all audiences.

 

I been writing music for a solid 40 years now. I have over 5000 songs written and recorded. When I go into the studio to write I may only have a few ideas rattling around. I work the parts up and just grab whatever fits for bridges verses, solo parts etc. Because I have written so many songs, I often find myself picking bits and pieces of songs I had written decades ago and piecing them into new projects.

 

Sometimes I don't even realize I had used them before. I may have a completely different beat, different rhythm and break it up with different accents. I may discover it at some later date or not. I do the same thing with vocals allot too. I really get board writing lyrics. What I do is just sit down and write 10 pages of rhyming words, kind of like Jim Morrison would do. Then when a song needs lyrics I'll just search through a batch and find the one that's a closest fit and edit it on the fly while I'm recording it.

 

I can say it really makes for some interesting results compared to others I meticulously built line by line to fit some melody I had. Both work of course. I like to keep myself from getting in a rut doing things the same way all the time.

 

The most fun I had writing music however was in my last band. There were only three of us but we all wrote music. We'd get together and the other guitarist may have a couple of cords thrown together, or vice versa, I'd come up with a chorus or a bridge that I thought would work so we'd slap that on there. The drummer hear the music totally different and he's come out of left field with some melody and lyrics he's throw in there. We'd write 90% of it just jamming free lance. All of us could write lyrics on the spot too. I usually did better with some kind of rhymes in front of me, usually the last word in each sentence.

 

We got so good at it we were considering just going out, playing live and writing all the material for a show on the spot. We could just never find a bass player good enough to do it. When we recorded I always did the bass parts multitracking. The huge numbers of one take songs we wrote together was truly staggering. We recorded every session for 10 years and out of those sessions we always had at least two or three which blew our doors off because they were just so creative. The drummer wasn't overly fancy but man he could read our minds. He knew instinctively when we were going to change tempo, add accents, put in breaks etc.

 

Those are the rewards that come when you play with other people for long periods of time. Beatles did it. so did most of the other big bands.

 

A great example is to look at what the Funk Brothers did at Motown. All those hits came from the same band. They simply used different singers for all of them. Most of that music they wrote on the spot. When they weren't recording they played in Jazz clubs around Chicago and knew all the other players in town. They could write together because they could read the other players minds and coax it out of them.

 

The Beatles listened and knew about the black bands and how they put music together. They essentially did the same thing with their own British musical influences.

 

That's what really makes good music in the end anyway. Take the best and add your own uniqueness to it. Try everything including the kitchen sink and all the plumbing. Listen to the results and remember what worked and what didn't.

 

I used to have a dozen of more bootleg albums from the orient that were made from those lost Beatles Recordings that were recently found. They were loaded with the uncut versions of all the Let It Be sessions, and maybe some others. You could hear the band progressively building the songs up bit by bit from their basic ideas. The songs didn't have all the finer stuff dubbed in later like fades, strings, background effects and even allot of the chorus stuff was missing but you know the few instruments they were playing eventually wound up on the album.

 

I wish I still had those to post here. They give you a big window into how those guys wrote together. The first thing you realize is its not much different then how other bands write music either. They just had a very different view on life and were able to bring it to others who lead a very different life so it came off as being mystical to them.

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Nice, 5000 songs is a bunch of songs. I am an amateur but for the fun of learning to play and write I have maybe 20 songs...3 need to be recored so I don't forget them.

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