Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fourier analysis solves rock mystery

Evidently, the first chord in the Beatles' "A Hard Days' Night" has proved a conundrum for musicians and music publishers for decades. You'll be relieved to know that mathematician Jason Brown has finally put this conundrum to bed .

"Four years ago, Jason Brown was inspired by reading news coverage about the song’s 40th anniversary - so much so that he decided to try and see if he could apply a mathematical calculation known as Fourier transform to solve the Beatles’ riddle. The process allowed him to break the sound into distinct frequencies using computer software to find out exactly which notes were on the record.

"What he found was interesting: the frequencies he found didn’t match the instruments on the song. George played a 12-string Rickenbacker, John Lennon played his 6 string, Paul had his bass - none of them quite fit what he found. He then realized what was missing - the 5th Beatle. George Martin was also on the record, playing a piano in the opening chord, which accounted for the problematic frequencies."

Perhaps this will be part of the quantitative curriculum for the new Master's of Beatleology degree "programme" at Liverpool Hope University.