November 18, 2010

A Day in The Life

'A Day in The Life'  is one of the Beatles most famous and influential songs.

the song comprises distinct segments written independently by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with orchestral additions added later. While Lennon’s lyrics were inspired by contemporary newspaper articles, McCartney’s were reminiscent of his youth.

George Martin, the Beatles' producer, later described explaining his improvised score to the puzzled orchestra:

"What I did there was to write ... the lowest possible note for each of the instruments in the orchestra. At the end of the twenty-four bars, I wrote the highest note...near a chord of E major. Then I put a squiggly line right through the twenty-four bars, with reference points to tell them roughly what note they should have reached during each bar ... Of course, they all looked at me as though I were completely mad."

McCartney had originally wanted a 90-piece orchestra, but this proved impossible; the difference was made up, as the semi-improvised segment was recorded multiple times and eventually four different recordings were overdubbed into a single massive crescendo. The results were successful; in the final edit of the song, the orchestral bridge is reprised after the final verse.

Following the final orchestral crescendo, the song ends with one of the most famous final chords in music history. Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Evans shared three different pianos, with Martin on the Harmonium, and all played an E-major chord simultaneously. The final chord was made to ring out for over forty seconds by increasing the recording sound level as the vibration faded out. Towards the end of the chord the recording level was so high that listeners can hear the sounds of the studio, including rustling papers and a squeaking chair.

'A Day in The Life'  The Beatles  1967.


  1. McCartney has always been more pop than rock. His desire for a huge orchestra ia an example of went wrong with The Beatles. In general, their songs were infectious fluff. For me, their best was the White Album, Revolver and Sargent Pepper.

    On the other hand, Lennon's indie work had edge and rock sensibilities.

  2. Interesting post - I like the Beatles enormously and yet know nothing about them