Magazine article Guitar Player

A Hard Day's Mystery

Magazine article Guitar Player

A Hard Day's Mystery

Article excerpt

The opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night" is one of the most memorable in rock history. In The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, author Mark Lewisohn quotes Beatles' producer George Martin as saying, "We knew it would open both the film and the soundtrack album, so we wanted a particularly strong and effective beginning. The strident guitar chord was the perfect match." But what exactly was that mysterious chord?

The two most common transcriptions are G, D, F, C, D, G (which appears on many Web sites) and the one given in The Beatles Complete Scores: G, D, G, C, D, G (George Harrison's 12-string), plus D, G, C, G (John Lennon), and D on bass (Paul McCartney). After 40 years, is there any way to tell whether either of these versions is correct?

A type of mathematics called Fourier Transforms can be used to reconstruct the original frequencies from a list of numbers, once the values have been calculated using software to analyze a digital recording of the sound. I selected a segment of approximately one second of the opening chord, and ran the Fourier Transform on the data. Then, I rounded each of the 48 loudest frequencies to their closest semitone, and these are the notes that comprise that marvelous chord (middle C is written as C4): A2, D3, D3, D3, D3, F3, F3, F3, G3, A3, C4, C4, D4, G4, A4, C5, D5, D5, D5, GS, G5, G5, B5, B5, C6, D6, E6, E6, E6, E6, F#6, G#6, A6, D7, D7, D7, D7, D7, D 7, D T, EY, E7, FZ FT, G7, G7, G7, G7. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.