IT IS one of the most famous sounds in the history of rock and roll.
The clanging, opening chord at the start of the 1964 Beatles hit A Hard Day’s Night is instantly recognisable. Yet, as many musicians have discovered, every attempt to reproduce it seems to sound wrong.
A British mathematician now claims to have got closer than anyone else to solving the mystery.
Dr Kevin Houston, from the University of Leeds, used sophisticated software to split up the sound on the record into its component frequencies. Presented on a computer screen, a pattern was revealed showing which notes were most prominent.
The results suggest a much simpler solution than one proposed four years ago by another scientist from Canada.
Professor Jason Brown, from Dalhousie University, maintained that missing guitar notes were replaced by Beatles producer George Martin playing a piano.
Dr Houston does not dispute that the piano is there, but challenges its importance.
He believes George Harrison was playing a straightforward F add9 on his 12-string Rickenbacker, rather than the unusual fingering indicated by Prof Brown. At the same time, Harrison appears to have had his thumb curled round the neck of the guitar, pressing down the bottom E string at the first fret.
Dr Houston also established that John Lennon was playing the same chord on an acoustic guitar. On the stereo track, Harrison and Lennon are heard on different speakers.
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