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The Beatles as Musicians: "Revolver" Through the "Anthology" [Paperback]

Walter Everett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

27 May 1999
Given the phenomenal fame and commercial success that the Beatles knew for the entire course of their familiar career, their music per se has received surprisingly little detailed attention. Not all of their cultural influence can be traced to long hair and flashy clothing; the Beatles had numerous fresh ideas about melody, harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, form, colours, and textures. Or consider how much new ground was broken by their lyrics alone--both the themes and imagery of the Beatles' poetry are key parts of what made (and still makes) this group so important, so popular, and so imitated. This book is a comprehensive chronological study of every aspect of the Fab Four's musical life--including full examinations of composition, performance practice, recording, and historical context--during their transcendent late period (1966-1970). Rich, authoritative interpretations are interwoven through a documentary study of many thousands of audio, print, and other sources.

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The Beatles as Musicians: "Revolver" Through the "Anthology" + The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul + Beatlesongs
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (27 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195129415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195129410
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The Beatles As Musicians is a well-researched, serious-minded scholarly work that stands easily as the best volume of its genre. Students enrolled in music education programs at the university level will benefit tremendously from many of professor Everett's astute observations and advanced theories concerning the music of The Beatles. As a college-level textbook, this book rates an A+."--Goldmine"Stunning in its thoroughness....An ambitious and serious analytical undertaking, and the only contribution of its kind to date, this book deserves careful attention from all who would include all musics in the 20th-century canon."--Choice"This is an excellent book that will appeal to musicologists, theorists, and general readers with any interest in the Beatles....Everett has written the most important book on the Beatles to appear so far; it will become an indispensable part of any future work on the group and their music. He nicely and securely balances detailed music-analytical, historical, and biographical information while providing a compelling interpretation of the ways in which the group's music changed and developed."--John Covach, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill"Impressive....I've never seen anything like it before....This unique book offers a seamless narrative of the latter half of the Beatles' career as music makers. What is new in these pages is new not only to the literature on the Beatles but to writing about popular music more generally....Everett does many things more effectively than any previous writer on the Beatles....A great book."--Charles Hamm, Dartmouth College

About the Author

Walter Everett is Associate Professor of Music in Music Theory at the University of Michigan.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A serious musicological work from this American scholar. Casual readers (including me) might want to note that some degree of musical knowledge is a requirement for understanding most of this book, and a caveat to that effect is given in the opening pages. Already, I feel like I'm signing up for a higher education course rather than reading a book about popular music.

As the world knows, The Beatles did not rely heavily on musical notation, reading sheet music, or conventional arrangements. They were largely self-taught through a combination of sheer instinct, enthusiasm, and a driven desire to become rock and roll musicians; at an early stage they picked up their information from listening to vinyl records, reading guitar tutors, watching musicians form chord shapes on guitars on stage or even on TV. (Of course the complete picture is that The Beatles didn't stay untutored forever; I've read elsewhere about McCartney's dedication to self-improvement, including professional piano lessons).

Everett's strategy is to take this intangible musical instinct, innate talent and energy, and reverse-engineer it into musical notation, a song form that can be written down, rather than simply replayed as a record. A fair proportion of his book consists of doing just this, in a determined effort to reveal the perfection of The Beatles' compositions. I took heart when he said in the introduction that what we respond to in The Beatles is not hi-fi recording or original mono pressings, but the beauty of the songs' structures. The drawback for me is that he explains much of this beauty in a language which, by my own admission, I'm not trained to comprehend.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind 12 Dec 1999
By Ian Hammond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Beatles As Musicians (BAM) is one of a kind. No other book discusses the Beatles' music comprehensively from the point of view of a working musician. This is the only book about the Beatles which is aimed squarely at the literate musician.
The current volume handles the 1966-1969 period. Everett goes through each album and song examining basic techniques and materials. One real strength is his description of the recording process and the classification of exactly which guitars were used.
This book is a basic source reference. It's the kind of book you turn to when you need to know *more* about a particular song. It is exceedingly well annotated with references for almost all information provided. These alone makes the book worthwhile.
It does not attempt to sumarise the work of the Beatles or generalise about style. That kind of work can't be contemplated until books such as BAM are first made available.
For me, it's the first useful book about the Beatles music, from a musical viewpoint, since Wilfred Mellers wrote "The Twilight Of The Gods" in the sixties. Our understanding of the Beatles music has come along way since then. BAM is the book that makes that progress visible.
Ian Hammond
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best study of the Beatles' music 29 Nov 2001
By Doc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A goldmine for anyone interested in the Beatles! By far the best study of the Beatles' music, indeed of any repertory of popular music. Everett includes technical analyses that will assist and inform musicians and scholars. BUT the general reader must not be scared off by the technical sections! If you're not familiar with music theory, skip the technical parts and you still have the best coverage of the Beatles as composers, with historical and personal details accurately recounted for each song and album. Impressed by Everett's work, the Beatles gave Everett unprecedented access to sketches and other unpublished material.
Both author and publisher deserve 10 stars for this magnificent effort.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, if a little stuffy 20 Sep 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author recommends the reader have several years of college-level music training. He uses harmonic/melodic analysis as one would use in dissecting W.A. Mozart, et al, in theory class. This is an interesting and insightful approach that sometimes gets a bit too clever, given the subject matter. The author demonstrates genuine admiration for the Beatles as composers/poets/performers, but occasionally becomes condescending, perhaps a product of his academic background. On the other hand, he seems to be very precise regarding who played what on which track--that's interesting for a musician at any level. All in all, an engrossing work. The more knowledge of music theory the reader possesses, the more he/she will enjoy this book.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious about Beatles Music? 3 April 2001
By Timothy A. Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Everett's study is a superb guide to the Beatles' music for those seriously interested in the architecture of the songs. Reading Everett as you listen to the music opens up new vistas -- you'll hear things you never noticed before. The study is meticulous and insightful. Even when Everett describes theoretical aspects of the songs, he writes with such clarity that the muscially illiterate (such as myself) can appreciate his argument. This is the best study of the music since MacDonald's Revolution in the Head. I would think that this book, Revolution in the Head, and the Beatles Anthology would be essential for anyone seriously interested in the Beatles as artists and not simply as pop icons.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Review Of The Beatles' Later Music 14 July 2005
By Maclen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book and its companion (which traces the Beatles' music from its beginnings through "Rubber Soul") demonstrate that there are writers who are serious about the remarkable music of the Beatles. Apart from Mellers' rather professorial, pedantic book and Riley's excellent, approachable book, there is a dearth of material on the music of the Beatles, apart from their sociological or gender ramifications, their cultural iconic status and their effect on fashion and morals, etc. And the music is the only aspect of the Beatles that should matter, since they were incredible musicians and their music has clearly withstood the test of time. Forget other recent books about the Beatles, such as "Meet the Beatles," which reassesses their sociological and gender significance largely by repeating what was previously written about them. Everett succeeds brilliantly in reviewing the Beatles' music as if he were reviewing the music of any great composer. For those who do not have a background in music theory, certain parts of this book may be difficult to comprehend. However, it is worth the effort. A fine achievement.
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