History

Dr Brown's musical forensics unravel Day Tripper

In his much celebrated, widely published and quoted paper "Mathematics, Physics and A Hard Day's Night" Dr Jason I. Brown purportedly unravelled the mystery of the opening chord of The Beatles' song A Hard Day's Night. His method conveniently discarded most of the data, presumed the loudest frequencies were fundamentals and haphazardly allocated the notes to instruments while ignoring all of the empirical evidence available. When confronted with 'missing' frequencies he went searching inside a piano and counted the strings - 29,327 frequencies from his original sample were quietly ignored. Supporters of this very bad science remain blissfully unaware that his 'solution' sounds nothing like the recording.

Perhaps if he had tested his method on a simpler piece of music he may have discovered whether or not his results are worthy of such attention and acclaim.

Presented for your consideration is the "Dr Brown musical forensics" method of analysis applied to the opening of The Beatles' song Day Tripper.

First we sample about half a second of the sound and store it digitally. We then perform the Discrete Fourier Transform mathematical process which deconstructs a complex waveform into a series of simpler waveforms of specific amplitude and frequency. For musical analysis we convert the frequencies into note names and examine the loudest. This complicated procedure is simplified using Andy Robinson's excellent Transcribe! software. The program translates the frequencies and amplitudes into a graphic depiction of spikes aligned with notes on a piano keyboard.

E2 Spectrum


It should be pretty clear now that the published transcriptions of the part are wrong. The frequencies represent a chord whereas all of the published transcriptions depict a single note.

The notes in the sample are E3 B3 E4 G#4 B4 D5. With logic and our knowledge of the role of each member of the group we can deduce which notes are played on their respective instruments.

Paul McCartney played bass guitar so he must be playing the lowest note E3.

John Lennon played rhythm guitar which involves chords. Chords have three notes - but which three of the remaining five? Since the bass note is E it is most likely playing the root of an E-chord. The chord of E contains three notes E G# B so from our sample E4 G#4 and B4 are played by John.

George Harrison played the lead guitar which is a single note melody sounding higher in pitch than the chords. He must therefore be playing D5.

But that still leaves one more note unaccounted for.
Who played the B3?

The clue lies on the sleeve for the Rubber Soul album which was recorded around the same time as Day Tripper. Several instruments are listed as being played in addition to the guitars including George Martin on harmonium and George Martin on piano.

Here, after decades of uncertainty, is a photograph of the mystery ingredient which was added by the genius producer George Martin:

The missing B3 Hammond B3 

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