Musicology68 WK5 The Beatles Please Please Me Guide

For the midterm exam, you will prepare a listening guide to one of the first five Beatles albums

(UK versions):

  • Please Please Me (March 1963)
  • With the Beatles (November 1963)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (July 1964)
  • Beatles for Sale (December 1964)
  • Help! (August 1965)
  • Your listening guide will provide an overview of the album as a whole, and discussions of any

    three songs from the album. One of the songs can be a song played and discussed in lecture or in

    section, but the other two must be songs not played in class. You will use course material –

    historical, musicological, etc. – to create a narrative for understanding the album.

    Your overview of the album can include information on the composition and recording of the

    songs, but the larger focus should be your overall impressions of the album. You may also

    compare any of the songs to other music, from the past or the present. Remember, this is an

    exam, not a term paper: in preparing and writing it, you should draw on materials from the first

    five weeks of class, including readings, lecture notes, listening, videos, discussion sections, and

    the weekly online writing questions. You do not have to do any additional research for this

    exam, but if you want to include additional information, make sure to footnote your sources.

    Some questions to ask yourself when choosing a focus for your exam include: What do you

    think is interesting about this album, what stands out to you? How are the Beatles addressing

    their audience? How are the Beatles responding to other music they know? What emotions or

    ideas do you hear the songs conveying? What (if anything) do you think the Beatles are saying

    about themselves with this album? How does this album relate (or not) to the Beatles’ earlier

    work? How does the album cover relate to the listening experience? What do you think a

    listener in the 1960s would have thought about this album? What do you think about the album

    as a listener in 2019, and how does that compare with what you think listeners in the 1960s

    would have heard?

    The songs you choose will give you the opportunity to provide evidence for your overview of the

    album. Your discussion of each song must include specific musical details, as we have been

    discussing them in class. You do not have to account for every element for each song! Instead,

    think about what particular musical element(s) contribute to your impression and understanding

    of the song.

    Musical elements include:

    Things composers play with: Meter & Rhythm; Melody; Harmony; Instrumentation (including

    voices); Texture; Form; Lyrics/language (see slides, Week 1 Class 1)

    Things performers play with: Composer instructions; Training and skill; Timbre (sound

    characteristics); Expression (tempo, dynamics, phrasing); Re-arrangement (for covers,

    especially forces); Recording techniques (see slides Week 1 Class 1)

    And things Listeners play with: Paratexts; existing knowledge (about musicians, other music, etc);

    Listening contexts (see slides Week 2 Class 1)

    You may of course discuss the lyrics of songs, but make sure to consider purely musical

    elements as well. Additionally, your framework for interpreting/understanding the album and its

    songs can be based on concepts you know from outside this class, from other classes or fields of

    study that seem appropriate, including (but not limited to) gender, sexuality, masculinity/

    femininity, race, class, nation (US and/or UK), consumerism, music industry politics, teenage

    identity, etc. but it is not necessary to include material from outside this course.

    3-5 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1 inch margins. For other formatting questions, ask

    your TA.

    Please Please Me album. Songs: Please Please Me, Twist and Shout, and Ask Me Why