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Paul making tape loops on a Brenell tape recorder

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Posted on Sat, 06/20/2015 - 9:19pm
by Ron Wallace

Member since: Sat, 01/24/2015

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Largely a self-taught musician, McCartney's approach was described by musicologist Ian MacDonald as "by nature drawn to music's formal aspects yet wholly untutored ... [he] produced technically 'finished' work almost entirely by instinct, his harmonic judgement based mainly on perfect pitch and an acute pair of ears ... [A] natural melodist—a creator of tunes capable of existing apart from their harmony". McCartney commented, "I prefer to think of my approach to music as ... rather like the primitive cave artists, who drew without training."

Bass guitar

McCartney's skill as a bass player has been acknowledged by other bassists, including Sting, Dr. Dre bassist Mike Elizondo, and Colin Moulding of XTC. Best known for primarily using a plectrum or pick, McCartney occasionally plays fingerstyle. He does not use slapping or muting techniques. He was strongly influenced by Motown artists, in particular James Jamerson, who McCartney called a hero for his melodic style. He was also influenced by Brian Wilson, as he commented: "because he went to very unusual places". Another favourite bassist of his is Stanley Clarke.

During McCartney's early years with the Beatles, he primarily used a Höfner 500/1 bass, though in 1965, he began sporadically using a Rickenbacker 4001S for recording. While typically using Vox amplifiers, by 1967 he had also begun using a Fender Bassman for amplification. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, he used a Wal 5-String, which he said made him play more thick-sounding basslines, in contrast to the much lighter Höfner, which inspired him to play more sensitively, something he considers fundamental to his playing style. He changed back to the Höfner around 1990 for that reason. He uses Mesa Boogie bass amplifiers while performing live.

MacDonald identified "She's a Woman" as the turning point when McCartney's bass playing began to evolve dramatically, and Beatles biographer Chris Ingham singled out Rubber Soul as the moment when McCartney's playing exhibited significant progress, particularly on "The Word". Bacon and Morgan agreed, calling McCartney's groove on the track "a high point in pop bass playing and ... the first proof on a recording of his serious technical ability on the instrument." MacDonald inferred the influence of James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour", American soul tracks from which McCartney absorbed elements and drew inspiration as he "delivered his most spontaneous bass-part to date".

Bacon and Morgan described his bassline for the Beatles song "Rain" as "an astonishing piece of playing ... [McCartney] thinking in terms of both rhythm and 'lead bass' ... [choosing] the area of the neck ... he correctly perceives will give him clarity for melody without rendering his sound too thin for groove." MacDonald considered the track the Beatles' best B-side, stating that its "clangorously saturated texture resonates around McCartney's [bassline]", which MacDonald described as "so inventive that it threatens to overwhelm the track". MacDonald also indicated the influence of Indian classical music in "exotic melismas in the bass part". McCartney identified Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as containing his strongest and most inventive bass playing, particularly on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

Acoustic guitar

McCartney primarily flatpicks while playing acoustic guitar, though he also uses elements of fingerpicking. Examples of his acoustic guitar playing on Beatles tracks include "Yesterday", "I'm Looking Through You", "Michelle", "Blackbird", "I Will", "Mother Nature's Son" and "Rocky Raccoon". McCartney singled out "Blackbird" as a personal favourite and described his technique for the guitar part in the following way: "I got my own little sort of cheating way of [fingerpicking] ... I'm actually sort of pulling two strings at a time ... I was trying to emulate those folk players." He employed a similar technique for "Jenny Wren". He played an Epiphone Texan on many of his acoustic recordings, but also used a Martin D-28.

Electric guitar

McCartney played lead guitar on several Beatles recordings, including what MacDonald described as a "fiercely angular slide guitar solo" on "Drive My Car", which McCartney played on an Epiphone Casino. McCartney said of the instrument, "if I had to pick one electric guitar it would be this." He contributed what MacDonald described as "a startling guitar solo" on the Harrison composition "Taxman" and the "shrieking" guitar on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Helter Skelter". MacDonald also praised McCartney's "coruscating pseudo-Indian" guitar solo on "Good Morning Good Morning". McCartney also played lead guitar on "Another Girl". On his "Taxman" solo, McCartney commented, "I was very inspired by Jimi Hendrix. It was really my first voyage into feedback." In 1990, when asked who his favourite guitar players were he included Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton and David Gilmour, stating, "but I still like Hendrix the best". He has primarily used a Gibson Les Paul for electric work, particularly during live performances.

Vocals

McCartney's vocals cross several musical genres. On "Call Me Back Again", according to Benitez, "McCartney shines as a bluesy solo vocalist" while MacDonald called "I'm Down" "a rock-and-roll classic" that "illustrates McCartney's vocal and stylistic versatility". MacDonald described "Helter Skelter" as an early attempt at heavy metal, and "Hey Jude" as a "pop/rock hybrid", pointing out McCartney's "use of gospel-style melismas" in the song and his "pseudo-soul shrieking in the fade-out". Benitez identified "Hope of Deliverance" and "Put It There" as examples of McCartney's folk music efforts while musicologist Walter Everett considered "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Honey Pie" attempts at vaudeville. MacDonald praised the "swinging beat" of the Beatles' twenty-four bar blues song, "She's a Woman" as "the most extreme sound they had manufactured to date", with McCartney's voice "at the edge, squeezed to the upper limit of his chest register and threatening to crack at any moment." MacDonald described "I've Got a Feeling" as a "raunchy, mid-tempo rocker" with a "robust and soulful" vocal performance and "Back in the U.S.S.R." as "the last of [the Beatles'] up-tempo rockers", McCartney's "belting" vocals among his best since "Drive My Car", recorded three years earlier.

Keyboards

McCartney played piano on several Beatles songs, including "Every Little Thing", "She's a Woman", "For No One", "A Day in the Life", "Hello, Goodbye", "Hey Jude", "Lady Madonna", "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road". MacDonald considered the piano part in "Lady Madonna" as reminiscent of Fats Domino, and "Let It Be" as having a gospel rhythm. MacDonald called McCartney's Mellotron intro on "Strawberry Fields Forever" an integral feature of the song's character. McCartney played a Moog synthesizer on the Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and the Wings track "Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)". Ingham described the Wings songs "With a Little Luck" and "London Town" as "full of the most sensitive pop synthesizer touches".

Drums

McCartney played drums on the Beatles' songs "Back in the U.S.S.R.", "Dear Prudence", "Martha My Dear", "Wild Honey Pie" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko". He also played all the drum parts on his first and second solo albums McCartney and McCartney II, as well as on the Wings album Band on the Run and most of the drums on his solo LP Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. Using the pseudonym Paul Ramon, which he had first used during the Beatles first tour in Scotland in 1960, McCartney played drums on Steve Miller Band's 1969 tracks "Celebration Song" and "My Dark Hour".

Tape loops

In the mid-1960s, when visiting artist friend John Dunbar's flat in London, McCartney brought tapes he had compiled at then-girlfriend Jane Asher's home. They included mixes of various songs, musical pieces and comments made by McCartney that Dick James made into a demo for him. Heavily influenced by American avant-garde musician John Cage, McCartney made tape loops by recording voices, guitars and bongos on a Brenell tape recorder and splicing the various loops. He referred to the finished product as "electronic symphonies". He reversed the tapes, speeded them up, and slowed them down to create the desired effects, some of which the Beatles later used on the songs "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "The Fool on the Hill".

Early influences

McCartney's earliest musical influences include Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, and Chuck Berry. When asked why the Beatles did not include Presley on the Sgt. Pepper cover, McCartney replied, "Elvis was too important and too far above the rest even to mention ... so we didn't put him on the list because he was more than merely a ... pop singer, he was Elvis the King." McCartney stated that for his bassline for "I Saw Her Standing There", he directly quoted Berry's "I'm Talking About You".

McCartney called Little Richard an idol, whose falsetto vocalisations inspired McCartney's own vocal technique. McCartney said he wrote "I'm Down" as a vehicle for his Little Richard impersonation. In 1971, McCartney bought the publishing rights to Holly's catalogue, and in 1976, on the fortieth anniversary of Holly's birth, McCartney inaugurated the annual "Buddy Holly Week" in England. The festival has included guest performances by famous musicians, songwriting competitions, drawing contests and special events featuring performances by the Crickets.

 

Attribution

Paul McCartney - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_McCartney https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/