Conference Report: “A Summit of Creativity: A Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

By Biamonte, Nicole | Music Theory Online, June 2017 | Go to article overview

Conference Report: “A Summit of Creativity: A Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”


Biamonte, Nicole, Music Theory Online


[1] One of the many golden-anniversary commemorations of the Beatles’ iconic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a very successful conference organized by Walter Everett and hosted by the University of Michigan on June 1–4, 2017. The conference’s start date marked fifty years to the day since the worldwide release of Sgt. Pepper on June 1, 1967 (the UK release took place several days earlier, on May 26). Their eighth studio album, it was widely praised for its innovative design and production, as well as for its songwriting and stylistic and timbral diversity. In August 1966, the Beatles decided to stop touring, which freed them to focus on composition and to experiment with songs that would have been difficult to perform live because of orchestration or studio effects; furthermore, their adopted alter ego, an Edwardian military band, liberated them from the stylistic expectations established by their earlier works. Many commentators regard Sgt. Pepper as the apex of the Beatles’ creativity, and it tops the list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” compiled by Rolling Stone magazine (May 31, 2012).

[2] The mandate of the symposium was broadly interdisciplinary. The call for papers invited proposals on a wide range of topics; I quote from it here by way of introducing the varied aspects of the album worthy of exploration: “Sgt. Pepper and its immediate context (e.g., analyses of individual songs; information on how songs were composed and recorded; the album’s reception; Pepper in relation to other Beatle works of 1967; works by others that inspired and were inspired by Pepper; the album’s impact upon graphic design and related arts; Pepper as exemplar of British psychedelia; counterculture of the 1960s); . . . the album’s invocations of new topics in its lyrics and their poetic expression; the roles of women as inspiration forPepper; gender and sexuality as album topics; controversies over banned topics purportedly related to drug use; Pepper’s blending of Western and non-Western sounds; its trendsetting use of orchestra; its advances in engineering and production; its role in the creation of the “concept album”; its imaginative melodic, harmonic, contrapuntal, rhythmic and formal innovations; its trends in packaging with gatefold cover, opulent photographs and the back cover’s first-ever display of lyrics; its status as the first worldwide Beatles release with (nearly) uniform content; and the album’s inspiration for parodies and cover versions.”

[3] The conference itself was correspondingly interdisciplinary, with presentations by scholars in musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, music education, history, English, communication studies, and library science, as well as by studio engineers, journalists, and performers, mostly from the US but also from Canada and the UK. The program committee of Walter Everett, James Borders, and Katie Kapurch assembled a kaleidoscopic program (Example 1) addressing many of the topics suggested in the call for papers. The schedule—with most activities live-streamed—was densely packed: seven keynote presentations, two lecture-performances, twenty-three papers, two lightning talks, a listening session to the new stereo remix of the album, and a tour of an exhibit of rare Beatles artifacts displayed in the University of Michigan music library. Below, I survey the featured presentations and the papers that engaged with theory and analysis and thus will be of greatest interest toMTO readers.

[4] Perhaps the most widely anticipated keynote address was by Ken Scott, a senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University who served as one of EMI’s five recording engineers for the Beatles from 1967 to 1969 (he is also well known for his engineering and production work with Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Elton John, and many others). He described the development of recording techniques and studio technology in the 1960s, entertained the audience with anecdotes about working with the Beatles, and concluded with a warning about how streaming services like YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify are taking power out of the hands of artists. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Conference Report: “A Summit of Creativity: A Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.