Beatles Chord Teardown

I just tripped over this intriguing story about the opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night.
A Hard Day’s Night: Solving a Beatles mystery with mathematics (Joel Werner, ABC News)
You can hear the iconic chord at the beginning of this clip from the trailer for the movie.


It turns out that there is controversy about how the chord was produced, and it’s a story that’s well known to avid guitar players and Beatles fans. A fan even asked George Harrison about it, and here’s a clip of his answer.

The reality is that his explanation doesn’t fully account for the actual sound of the chord, so that is why there is still enough of a controversy to rate specific coverage in the Beatle’s Bible and Wikipedia. There are also what appear to be an infinite number of videos about it on YouTube.

A highlight of the story is that Jason Brown, a mathematics professor at Dalhousie University, published a report in 2004 about how he analysed the chord using Fourier transforms and concluded that George Martin added piano to the recorded version.
Mathematics, Physics and A Hard Day’s Night (Jason Brown)

Brown’s analysis even received covered by Wired and NPR!
How Math Unraveled the Hard Day’s Night Mystery (Eliot Van Buskirk, Wired)
Hard Day’s Night: A Mathematical Mystery Tour (NPR)

A new twist emerged in 2014 when Randy Bachman (Wikipedia) explained on air how he heard the original masters of the recordings and could hear the 12-string guitar playing “an F chord, but you put a G on top, and you put a G on the bottom, and you put a C next to that G”, “a D on the bass”, and “rhythm guitar was a D chord with a sus 4.” Here’s that clip of his explanation.

So there’s the cool backstory about one of the most famous chords in the history of Rock & Roll!

If you are in the mood for a bit more Beatles nostalgia, here’s a wonderful 360° Video in which Paul McCartney shares his story of how the Beatles began.

Fun stuff!

You can also see two more great 360° clips on the Pure McCartney YouTube Channel.

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