Notre Dame University
Department of Music
Book Review: “Every Sound There Is”
By: Nadim Abs Osta
Course: Philosophy of Aesthetics
Instructor: Dr. Shireen Maalouf
““Every Sound There Is”: Revolver and the Transformation of Rock and Roll” is a compilation of 14 essays by scholarly and eager Beatles fanatics teamed together to discuss the 1966 hit psychedelic (which was the Beatles’ debut in that genre) album Revolver, ranked #1 by Q magazine. This collection was edited by Russell Reising, an English Language and Literature professor at the University of Toledo (USA). It provides an interdisciplinary view on the album extending from its musical (harmony, melody, rhythm, heritage, innovations, and even drum styles), psychological, sociological (cultural and gender studies), critical (poetics), and literary perspectives. All of these angles complement each other in forming a comprehensible synthesis as to how the Beatles were influenced by Soul and Blues music and took Rock music into a new age, affecting other great bands and audiences with their movement. The book is accessible to general readers, even though some articles include technical musical analysis and terms. The first article, “Detroit and Memphis: the soul of Revolver”, is written by Walter Everett, an associate Professor of Music at the University of Michigan. Everett depicts the Beatles’ career plans in reverse chronological order. He emphasizes on the importance of their selection of black soul and rhythm and blues music in Revolver. The Beatles seem to have been inspired by many riffs, melodic vocals, rhythms, and bass lines from previously recorded black American artists at the time ranging from 1963 till 1966, in addition to a few white ones. Some of these artists even opened for and toured with them. The American record label Motown was the main source from which the Beatles drank their fill of black American artists and songs. Altogether, the mixing of styles from a roster of singles, experimental, and native music into a hit album that brings out a new revolutionary soul is what the group’s genius is all about. The second article, “I’m Eleanor Rigby: female identity and Revolver”, is written by Jacqueline Warwick, a doctoral candidate in musicology at UCLA. Female identity is discussed through the album’s themes. The themes range from loneliness to death. Character traits in the female include bitterness, cruelty, kindness and independence. A fragile man is also described in Warwick’s interpretation and unsurprisingly, a female hero is conjured out of the many inconsistencies of the songs… Women as well as men who hear the album Revolver are challenged to relate to the characters in the lyrics psychologically and socially. The third article, “Sailing to the sun: Revolver’s influence on Pink Floyd”, is written by Shaugn O’Donnell, an Assistant Professor at Tulane University in New Orleans. Even though it was first thought that their music was opposite, the Beatles had a huge impact on Pink Floyd. As the name of the article suggests, Revolver influenced Pink Floyd in various musical aspects, including meter, timbre, harmony, and poetry. Special effects, concrete, and abstract sounds were also incorporated by Pink Floyd in their songs through Revolver. Historically well-constructed, the article demonstrates the effect Revolver had on defining the Pink Floyd sound and inspiring their future works and recordings.
The fourth article, “Revolver as a pivotal art work: structure, harmony, and vocal harmonization”, is written by Stephen Valdez, an Assistant Professor of Music History at the University of Georgia. This article deals with structural form, harmony, and vocals. Meticulous classification by the author explains the experimental combinations used by the Beatles to create a new style of their own. Even though the topic is technical in its terms, a universal understanding is reached by any reader about the basics...
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