Knowing 'The Beatles'

Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen
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Recent information on 'The Beatles', not least the remarkable 'Anthology' produced by the existing band members, has opened the possibilities for a re-examination of their work.

In modern culture it is assumed that a 'pop band' exists merely for pleasure and easy entertainment — or at least the idolatry of the fan-club. However our information age has brought about a revolution in the relationship of knowledge to the most apparently unlikely of cultural subjects, rendering apparently 'mere musical bubblegum' as a major source of social and human investigation. Most remarkable, perhaps, is the artistic and cultural tensions within 'The Beatles' themselves during the 'Beatlemania' period and the ramifications of this for their later work, including the relative failures of their solo careers. The aesthetic tension between the 'Apollonian' Paul and 'Dionysian' John lies at the heart of this tension and raises intense questions about the nature of the relationship between biography and art, the conscious and the subconscious. This paper will apply such inquiry to a selection of songs by this most human of bands, demonstrating the multivalent levels of reading this surprisingly rich source.

Keywords: Knowledge, The Beatles, Pop songs, Rock Bands, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Apollonian, Dionysian
Stream: Knowledge
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

Professor of Music, College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences, Rider University and Westminster Choir College (Princeton), New Jersey

Dr Stephen Arthur Allen teaches courses on 'The Beatles', Music Theory, Music History, World Music, Benjamin Britten's Operas, Musical Theater and Twentieth Century Music. He has contributed chapters to "The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Britten", edited Mervyn Cooke (1999) and the publication of his thesis at Oxford, "Benjamin Britten and Christianity", is forthcoming. Allen is also active as a composer, having just had the premiere and recording of his Gaudy Flourishes at Oxford University (who commissioned it) and completing a work for concert band, entitled "Heroes", on a Summer Fellowship at Rider. He regularly performs as soloist and principal euphonium with the Blawenburg Band, with whom he has recorded. In May of 2004 he founded The Princeton Brass Band, of which he is Musical Director. His current research interests include the music of 'The Beatles' and a history of rock and pop.

Ref: H05P0129