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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2003
Every fan must have wondered why the Beatles were so consistantly brilliant in their songwriting and 'Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles' hopes to explore just that. However, it is not really a book for every fan - knowledge of musical theory and keyboard or guitar playing is almost essential (to be fair, the author does provide a brief appendicised introduction to theory). Yet given that caveat, what is left is a fine study of the techniques that the group used in producing their masterpieces.
How John, Paul, George and Ringo took the influences of blues, doo-wop, skiffle and many more types of popular music and pushed the boundaries so far in just one decade is explored in minute detail - there's a whole chapter on the nature of that famous guitar chord at the begining of 'A Hard Day's Night'. The author starts with the simplest V-I progression and gradually expands on the songwriting methods The Beatles used, taking in melody and rhythm and ending up with what must be the most comprehensive exposition on a popular musicians'catelogue.
Anyone looking for real secrets of the bands' musical success will not find the answers here - the real answer lies in the genius of the four men (if you wish an insite into this then McDonalds' 'Revolution in the Head' is the book you need). But what you will find in 'Secrets...' is how that genius manifested itself.
'Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles' has a rather narrow audience but if you do fall within those bounds, you'll find it fascinating.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2011
The book was recommended by a friend. I am still only 1/4 way through, because the book is so packed with gems that I am studying it carefully, but I have no hesitation in recommending it strongly. It is not so much the stories behind the songs, as the title may suggest, but a thorough explanation of how chords and chord sequences work to make a song, based on examples from the Beatles (and other classics). Examples of each sequence are given with excerpts in music notation. Using the Beatles' music as examples is perfect because the songs are so familiar that one can hear them in one's mind without having to resort to CDs or mp3s. As well as a reference source for songwriters, the book has greatly increased my appreciation for the songwriting talents of the Beatles, particularly in the interplay between the music the the lyrics. It is really well written, sprinkled with wit and humour. A must-read for any musician.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2007
This is one of the greatest books ever written on music and music theory for people who know nothing about music. I cut out the original set of articles that spawned this book, and was thrilled to discover that he had turned it into a big book (and it is big!). The best thing about the book, if you have been saturated in Beatles music, is that the theory is learnt really quite effortlessly. The author has done everything he possibly could to make it easy for you. This book should be given to everyone free upon reaching the age of 15 or thereabouts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2013
This is the best book I've read on song writing so far. It uses the Beatles' songs as examples so that even if I didn't know a song I could look it up on-line.

The book begins with very simple two and three chord songs, each chapter then adds another layer of interest and complexity. It's a great book just to read through, and there are lots of points where I suddenly understood how a part of a song worked.

You don't need to read music to use the book but it helps as a lot of the examples use notation, there is an Appendix, "A beginners guide to music theory" that gives you the basics.

I bought the hardback (almost 800 pages) and the Kindle version. The Kindle is much easier to handle as the paper book is quite chunky. The only downside of the kindle version is that you need good eyesight to read some of the musical examples.

If you buy just one book on song writing then this is the one to get.

Best bit: Appendix 2 "Beatles chords in practice", some great example of modulation when moving between song sections, e.g. Verse to Chorus or Chorus to bridge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2014
Probably the best book ever written on the Beatles' songwriting. It's not comprehensive (not every song is analysed), but goes into as much detail as you could want on the songs it tackles. Not for the non-musician reader, however - too much jargon - but an essential item for musicians who are also Beatles fans.
Pedler's immaculate nerd credentials are exemplified in his devoting an entire chapter to the opening chord of Hard Days' Night.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have always been interested in songwriting, and especially the incredibly varied output of songs from Lennon and McCartney. This book is a bit of a tome, but is a fascinating and somewhat scholarly 'unpicking' of the Beatles songs.
Much interesting information on chords and how they fit in to the overall pattern and mood of the songs.
If you are ready for a long read - this is a book you should look at.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2012
This is possibly the best, but certainly the most entertaining book on music theory that I've read. There is a huge amount of detail here, but the author doesn't take the subject too seriously. It helps that I know the songs so well that I can hear the examples in my head while checking the notation.

If I was washed up on the shore of that desert island with an acoustic guitar and this book...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2014
The author did a great job at studying the songs of the beatles and summarizing his findings.
Most of the musical aspects are studied, but there is a strong focus on harmony. Somehow, the author
delivers a brilliant teaching anchored in reality with the songs of the beatles.

I would go as far as to say that you can learn harmony with this book, and songwriting,
and about many details of the craft of the fab four.
Impressive book, I learned a lot with it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2013
This book is a must for any beatle fanatic. Although, as mentioned by other reviewers, it does go deeply into music theory. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2014
Great book. Taught me a lot. Recommended by my jazz guitar teacher as a way of understanding chord progressions and transposition. A very thick book - get a kindle version if you can!
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