10 Beatles Guitar Lessons You Can Learn From John Lennon And George Harrison During The Beatlemania Era

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Guitar lessons: Before the studio experimentation fueled by chemicals from their psychedelic ‘middle’ period, The Beatles were a remarkably well-established success machine.

Their live studio performances were tight, and their songwriting chops even tighter – they released hits with remarkable sophistication for songwriters in their early twenties, with a work ethic that puts bands to shame. modern.

With John Lennon locking the beat, George Harrison’s instantly recognizable melodic lead guitar drew on 1950s influences including Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, while his early adoption of the 12-string Rickenbacker introduced the world to a sound that is now synonymous with the pop vocabulary of the 1960s.

Read on for 10 timeless guitar lessons we can learn from John and George as they etched their names in the music history books and won the adoration of millions of people.

1. The Beatles used minor chords to good effect. Here are five ways to do that as well:

Do you do minor intermediate sections

A classic Beatles movement involves switching from one major chord sequence in a verse to another starting with relative minor for a change of mood in a bridge or chorus. Hear it on Misery.

2. Everything is relative

Listen to All I’ve Got To Do and you’ll hear two dominant chords: E and C # m. These are relative major / minor chords. The verse moves between each chord as a tonal center, never really settling on one or the other.

3. Get away from the key

Based on E and A chords, Please Please Me’s verse is in E major. However, the cut in the middle of the verse “borrows” a G chord from the key of E minor, so the stroke is: EGAB. It’s a momentary change of harmony and mood.

4. Major / minor parallel

Another classic Beatles movement is the major to minor “parallel” shift. Try A-Am-E. It’s a change of base from A to E, except that the all-important Am leads you chromatically in the E chord.

(Image credit: Avenir)

5. Work your minor parents

Learning the relationship between major chords and their relative minors opens up all kinds of musical possibilities. If all of this relativity talk is confusing your brain, you can use this simple method: start with the major chord of the key you’re in and work your way down three semitones. Or use our diagram (above) to help you.


2. George’s octave shapes

Agreements

(Image credit: Avenir)

In songs such as Please Please Me, George Harrison would use the octave shapes shown here, instead of the more common form played on the fifth and third strings.

There is no great benefit to this other than comfort. That said, if you transfer these shapes to a 12-string guitar, you’ll find a different arrangement of the notes in different octaves, so it’s worth experimenting with.


3. Think about your agreements

Describe chords with root notes, arpeggios, and two- or three-note chords. The mix of bass guitar arpeggios and two guitars playing partial chords creates an ever-changing rhythmic part. Listen I saw her standing.


4. Increase your changes

Agreements

(Image credit: Avenir)

Hold on to an augmented chord to emphasize a change. Try E-Eaug-A, as a variation of the base change from E to A. Ask Me Why is a great example.


5. The I-II-IV progression

It might not be fair to say that The Beatles pioneered the I-II-IV-I progression in Eight Days A Week, but the streak appears in their later work as well. You Won’t See Me and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are two perfect examples of the band’s desire to return to a music staple.


6. Use deceptive cadences

In a classic I-IV-V chord progression, there is always the feeling that the V chord must be followed by the I. The effect is called “resolution”, and the feeling that a musical line touches its ending is known as ‘cadence’.

Just play the open chords D7 (the V), then G (the I) to hear it in action. The Beatles often challenged the listener by deliberately heading for a different chord after the V.

For example, in Do You Want To Know A Secret, the VI follows the V, giving the impression that the root chord is not “home”. Give it a try – start with an I-IV-V progression (EAB, for example) and try to head to C # m, F # m, or G # m after the B chord.


7. A simple idea can go a long way

Stephen Hill and Michael Gagliano have spent years studying the sound of The Beatles and starring as Gorge and John in the musical Let It Be. This example of a Twist And Shout riff they show us proves that a simple idea can go a long way.

It’s the D, G, and A chords that run through most of the song. Lennon played a slightly simpler part consisting only of strummed chords with his usual energy and dynamism. George’s part included the short melodic line on the 5th string, and he would simplify open chords into two-note power chords.

Stephen and Michael include an additional line that both guitarists would include in their concerts. This line was based on two-note chords used to describe a melody, rather than being used more generally as chords.

8. George’s transposition of pentatonic ideas

The Beatles

(Image credit: Edward Wing / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Image)

While working the licks of American blues guitarists, George realized that the minor pentatonic scale could be transposed to “fit” to each chord in a 12-bar sequence.

The opening pentatonic lick in E minor in this example is transposed to 4th so that it can be repeated on the B chord in measure 3

(Image credit: Avenir)


9. The John’s Chuck Berry Inspired Solo

John Lennon didn’t play a lot of early Beatles solos. However, one of his best-known solos comes on Long Tall Sally, originally an air of Little Richard.

Our example features double stops (two-note chords) and raspy string curves.

(Image credit: Avenir)


10. Contrasting guitar parts can complement

Stephen Hill and Michael Gagliano show us again a famous riff; this time it’s I Saw Her Standing There, and the two guitar parts are quite different.

The John Lennon part is a regular, choppy rhythm using a shape based on an open C7 chord, but which is moved up a few squares to make it an E7. The trick is to stab these chords while repeating the open sixth string below.

George Harrison’s part is based on a different harmonization of the E7 chord – an open D7 chord wound up two frets. More importantly, George adds single notes in these introductory chords, and also mixes rock ‘n’ roll style chords and arpeggio during the verse.


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