The Music of The Beatles Analysis

by | Mar 13, 2021 | Analysis, College (1-2), Music

Write a well-developed analytical paper of at least 5 pages of text (focusing on the analysis of the words and music of 3 Beatle songs, ideally from different periods in the group’s stylistic development (see page 3 of this document for a “safe” song list from which you may choose and their categories). Write about what you hear: consider words AND music and their interaction equally, as the song unfolds from beginning to end. Concentrate on how a song’s message is conveyed by different musical techniques. Incorporate musical concepts and terms from the course text that specifically describe what is going on; avoid vague descriptors like “flowing/upbeat/catchy,” etc. If needed, refer back to the lessons (especially Lessons 2 and 5) for ideas on how you might approach talking about musical aspects (such as the discussions of melody, harmony, key, instrumentation, form, timbre, texture, meter, rhythm, special effects, etc.), plus the interaction of words and music.

By interaction of the words and music, I am referring to how the use of music elements listed above enhances the meaning and emotions associated with the song’s lyrics. For instance, a fast tempo with strongly articulated rhythms could suggest a lively, excited, or anxious feeling being portrayed in the song’s lyrics. A slower tempo song in a minor key could suggest a melancholy mood associated with the text. Even high or low pitches could correspond to something mentioned as being high or low in the lyrics–word painting like this has been used for centuries (e.g., “falling in love”). It is particularly important to take what you have learned and apply it independently to songs with which you are not familiar. Such independent research and application is a vital part of the learning process.

This paper is your opportunity to demonstrate how well you have learned to deeply think about and listen mindfully to music, and then be able to express what you hear by using course terms and concepts. To find out what songs are covered in the course, just scroll through the Outline on the Course Website.

Songs Chosen:  “Yellow Submarine” , “Got To Get You Into My Life” , “Across the Universe”


  • Use Microsoft Word to draft your paper
  • Use a 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Use 1-inch margins
  • Double-space your paper
  • Proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, usage and double/missing/wrong word errors and errors of fact: There is no excuse for “McCarthy” or “Beetles”
  • Don’t rely only on Spellcheck, as it will not find many of those errors
  • Put song titles within quotes (e.g., “Please Please Me”) and italicize film, TV show, and album titles (e.g., Please Please Me)
  • Put your first and last names on the uploaded document
  • Include your name as part of the file name

HOW to DO WELL on this Analytical Paper:

  • Write a thoughtful succinct introduction and conclusion
  • Choose no more than one song studied in the online course whether done already or not
  • Choose all unfamiliar songs if you prefer (you will learn more this way)
  • Listen mindfully multiple times to each song—Take notes and reflect on the lyrics
  • Consider words AND music equally, plus the interaction of words and music as each song unfolds from beginning to end

The vast majority of content consists of your own ideas:
At the very least, try to pick out at least 3 unique/ special musical characteristics that are prominent features in each particular song
But to earn an A, you must identify and discuss at least 5 per song, and provide in-depth interpretation of the lyrics, verse by verse as each song progresses

  • If you choose a song discussed in the course lessons, you are required to incorporate and cite what the course author has said about that song, including any information derived from embedded video clips, especially those where the individual Beatles or George Martin are discussing a song
  • Outside source use is extremely limited and used ONLY for basic song facts like album or release date (these must be cited)
  • Cite any sources: If there is specialized information (which should be kept to a minimum), or you quote someone else’s words, put the author’s name and date in parentheses after the information in question, like this: (Benitez 2019). Put any partial song lyrics within quotation marks. See the Syllabus page 5 for a list of resources only if needed to enhance your discussion

HOW NOT to DO WELL on this Analytical Paper:

  • Add extra line spaces between paragraphs or triple-space your text
  • Use a format other than MS Word
  • Write 2–4 pages of text instead of the minimum requirement of 5
  • Count optional title or reference pages as part of your 5 pages
  • Ignore the rule above about quotation marks around song titles and italicizing album titles
  • Make the Beatles’ career trajectory the focus of your paper
  • Write only one paragraph per song
  • Demonstrate no personal engagement with each song’s music and lyrics
  • Have personal connections, themes, etc. take precedence over real engagement w/ the songs
  • Include a lot of extraneous information on song rankings, recording process, biographical information, etc.
  • Write on 2 or even all 3 songs discussed (or to be discussed) in the online course text
  • Substitute facts on the music (from Pollack,, etc.) for your own observations on the musical characteristics or interpretation of the lyrics
  • Use someone’s blog as a source, such as “” or other untrustworthy sources
  • Plagiarize from the Internet (including even slight paraphrases of content not generally known to the public, as well as verbatim text)
  • Write on songs by individual band members released after the Beatles broke up (such as Lennon’s “Imagine”)
  • Write on songs written by a Beatle but never recorded and released by the Beatles (such as “Nobody I Know” written by Paul McCartney but recorded by Peter and Gordon)
  • Write on songs NOT recorded and released by the group
  • Write on more than 3 songs—it will only hurt, not help, your paper grade

Songs that will not be studied this semester in the course lessons that are fair game:

You are allowed to choose only one song that we have (or will have) covered this semester as a part of the three that you will write about for this paper. As for the remaining two, those that were mentioned in passing in a lesson as well as those that were not addressed at all are fair game. Therefore, I’d like to suggest the following songs that we did not cover as possible choices when authoring your paper. Some of the songs are covers, which would be perfectly fine with me—if you choose a cover, I’d expect you to critique the original and the Beatles’ version (e.g., “Twist and Shout”) in some detail. So, here they are. As you can see, there are plenty of songs from which to choose.

A New Level of Mastery (late 1965-66): “You Won’t See Me,” “Think For Yourself,” “The Word,” “What Goes On,” “Girl,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “Wait,” “Run For Your Life,” “We Can Work It Out,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Yellow Submarine,” “She Said She Said,” “Good Day Sunshine,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “For No One,” “Doctor Robert,” “I Want To Tell You,” “Got to Get You Into My Life”

Psychedelia and Post-Psychedelia: “Blue Jay Way,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “Dear Prudence,” “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” “Martha My Dear,” “I’m So Tired,” “Rocky Raccoon,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road,” “I Will,” “Julia,” “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey,” “Sexy Sadie,” “Helter Skelter,” “Long, Long, Long,” “Cry Baby Cry,” “Mother Nature’s Son,” “Savoy Truffle”

Getting Back to Their Roots: “Two Of Us,” “Across the Universe,” “Maggie Mae,” “One After 909,” “The Long And Winding Road,” “For You Blue”

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