Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Musical Mystery Tour Ends

I didn't realize there was a 40-year mystery up for grabs until I read Beatles Unknown "A Hard Day's Night" Chord Mystery Solved Using Fourier Transform:
It’s the most famous chord in rock 'n' roll, an instantly recognizable twang rolling through the open strings on George Harrison’s 12-string Rickenbacker. It evokes a Pavlovian response from music fans as they sing along to the refrain that follows:
"It’s been a hard day’s night
And I’ve been working like a dog"
The opening chord to "A Hard Day’s Night" is also famous because, for 40 years, no one quite knew exactly what chord Harrison was playing.
Professor Jason Brown of Dalhousie University’s Department of Mathematics decided to apply a mathematical calculation known as a Fourier transform to solve the problem . . . and came up with the idea that George Martin, the Beatles producer, added an F note played by a piano.
The resulting chord was completely different than anything found in the literature about the song to date, which is one reason why Dr. Brown’s findings garnered international attention. He laughs that he may be the only mathematician ever to be published in Guitar Player magazine.
For the full technical presentation of Brown's triumph, see CHAAAAAAAAG...It's been a hard day's night! and, perhaps, Wired's How Math Unraveled the 'Hard Day's Night' Mystery.


(By the way, in case you need a reminder about the opening chord, here is a copy from the Wired article:

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