There is no doubt that the Beatles were pioneers of modern music. They revolutionized pop music and rock and roll and gave birth to Metal music as well as psychedelic music. But, what if we told you that the fab four who changed music forever, couldn’t read it or write it themselves? Yes, it’s true. The Beatles couldn’t and still can’t read or write music to this day!
The Beatles – Changing music forever was easier than reading or writing it
As it turns out, this band from Liverpool that we all can’t get enough of cannot read music. Reading music is often referred to as Music theory in the world of musicians. And that is one department where the Beatles severely lacked. In an interview with CBS, Paul McCartney remarked that he “can’t see music as dots on a page“. He further said:
I don’t read music or write music. None of us did in the Beatles. We did some good stuff though. But none of it was written down by us. It’s basically notation. That’s the bit I can’t do. ‘Cause I don’t see music like that.
Moreover, he also said in an interview with WIRED that he can now barely read guitar chords. Other than that, as it gets more complicated with more dots, it just passes him by.
Other than Paul, George Harrison couldn’t read music either. Moreover, Simon Leng confirmed it in his book too that he was very conscious about that fact.
John Lennon himself even admitted that the Beatles weren’t great technical musicians either. In an interview with Playboy in 1980, he said:
I think Paul and Ringo stand up with any of the rock musicians. Not technically great — none of us are technical musicians. None of us could read music. None of us can write it. But as pure musicians, as inspired humans to make the noise, they are as good as anybody.
They were so annoyed by music theory, that other than Paul McCartney no one even bothered to even try learning the trait either.
So, how did they record and remember music?
Simple, they practiced a lot. With sheer determination and hard work, the Beatles would simply remember the songs they created with their respective lyrics. Most of them learned to play their favorite instruments just by practice. But when it came to recording the songs, they’d play it to George Martin and other professional musicians. After hearing them, they’d transcribe it for them. But maybe, that’s what made them so great in the first place.
By not being bound by any chords or sheet music, the Beatles were able to transcend the limits in the music industry of the time. By all accounts, all four of them were happy with not being able to read music. This allowed them to use the full capacity of their minds, which gave the world the music we love even 50 years after the band broke up.
Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of The Beatles and their workings in their upcoming documentary!