Composer explores origins of Beatles songs

Composer and producer Scott Freiman ’84 used audio and video material from the Beatles, which he has collected over the course of several years, to analyze the origin and evolution of a hit Beatles song at an Ezra Stiles College master’s tea Monday night.

About 50 students and faculty members attended Freiman’s hour-long multimedia presentation about “Strawberry Fields Forever,” a Beatles song released in 1966. In his presentation, which featured early versions of Beatles songs, Freiman said the Beatles’ willingness to experiment with their music was instrumental in their achievement of extreme popularity.

“What makes the Beatles so pertinent to the evolution of music is that they liked breaking the rules and constantly looking for new sounds,” Freiman said.

Freiman, whose original music has been performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, said John Lennon conceived of the idea for “Strawberry Fields Forever” since he associated strawberry fields, which surrounded his home in the United Kingdom, with freedom.

Freiman said “Strawberry Fields Forever” embodies the Beatles’ musical transformation from a concert band from a studio band. The band grew reluctant to perform live because the limitations of their audio technology prevented them from hearing themselves play, he said, adding that they became involved in several uncomfortable situations on tour, such as conflicts with hostile crowds in the southern United States after Lennon claimed that the Beatles had become more popular than Jesus.

While undeveloped technology inhibited their ability to perform on stage, Freiman said the limitations of their instruments led them to create a unique sound and style. Lennon’s tape recorder and the Beatles’ synthesizer did not allow them to edit their music, which is why mistakes can be found on almost all of their tracks, Freiman said, adding that “Strawberry Fields Forever” took 27 takes to complete. But in Feldman’s opinion, this imperfection is part of the reason why so many people identify with the Beatles’ music.

All three students interviewed said they enjoyed seeing and hearing the rare materials Freiman had compiled. Erica Lin ’14 said she learned much both about the history of the Beatles and the process of creating music.

Stephanie Adcock ’15 said she enjoyed Freiman’s interactive approach to explaining the creation of Strawberry Fields Forever.

Freiman holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and music from Yale and a Masters of Music Composition from New York University.

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