Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Science Helps Unravel Mystery of 'A Hard Day's Night'

I must have lived a musically-sheltered life, because I never knew that a mystery concerning the first note of the Beatles's "A Hard Day's Night" existed till now.

Guitarists and other musicians for more than 40 years -- without success -- have tried to recreate the sound that opens "A Hard Day's Night." While the note played on George Harrison's 12-string Rickenbacker is the most prominent, the two-second duration of the chord is filled with undertones and frequencies that musicians have been unable to identify or recreate.

Now someone has studied the Fourier transform of the note (why this obvious analysis was not done sooner is a mystery to me).

A research student at Dalhousie University, in Canada, used a mathematical calculation known as Fournier Transform to figure out which notes are on the record.

Jason Brown took up the issue in his thesis.

Brown's "Mathematics, Physics and 'A Hard Day's Night'" details what he learned by analyzing the opening chord in a computer sound editing program.

The "mysterious notes," according to Brown's research, come not from guitar notes played by George Harrison or John Lennon or bass notes from Paul McCartney, but a piano played by Beatles producer George Martin.

Mystery solved!



Karrasko said...

I didn't know anything about this "mystery". I've listened hundreds of times "A Hard Day's Night", and I never noticed that this note was irreproducible.

Anonymous said...

i heard about this a while ago (a year? 6 months?) and how someone figured out the mystery. i think it was probably another person.

i agree also that the biggest mystery is why nobody did any fourier analysis. also a mystery is why musicians who have perfect pitch weren't able to figure it out. didn't anyone think to ask any of the beatles?