December 24, 2012

Galeazzo Frudua replicates the sound of the Beatles' singing with remarkable accuracy...

... except for that bit of Italian accent, which proves it really is him singing all the parts. And he explains what he's doing in that charming accent in a series of YouTube videos. Here he is with "Nowhere Man":



Frudua doesn't talk about the personalities of The Beatles, but his demonstration made me think about the way John was singing his song, and George (with the lower voice) harmonized by going more toward monotony, while Paul (with the higher voice) got fancier and more dramatic, making the backup into the show-off spot. George, you might say, was modest and self-effacing, while Paul was competitive, to the point where he almost seems to be daring John to slug him for taking over his song. And yet the sound is of 3 men blended perfectly.

It's fascinating to me that Frudua is so finely tuned to the details of sound, yet retains his accent. Maybe he's choosing that. If so, it's a nice touch.

32 comments:

Clyde said...

Re: accents, it always amazes me when an actor or actress from somewhere else in the Anglosphere does a very credible American accent in a film, but then when interviewed later returns to his or her own native Australian or British accent. Heath Ledger was one example.

Ann Althouse said...

I remember being shocked hearing Mick Jagger speak for the first time (probably on Ed Sullivan). His singing adopted the accents of the Americans whose songs the band was covering. The singing style included those accents.

Other British bands used English-style accents, and then there were some American bands that adopted English accents for singing purposes.

Michael said...

Great stuff. Amazing world isnt it?

Mery Christmas, professor and thank you for this splendid blog

EDH said...

while Paul (with the higher voice) got fancier and more dramatic, making the backup into the show-off spot.

I'm not sure, but I think John may be a third voice on the backing vocal track, except for the final "la-la-la-la-la" of the section at the point when John stops singing the lead.

Listen here to the difference in tone when they go into the final "la-la-la-la-la".

In that context, Paul (probably at the direction of George Martin) is just keeping Lennon's voice from dominating both the lead and backing tracks.

So, while it may be true that "George, you might say, was modest and self-effacing, while Paul was competitive" this song may not be the best example.

EDH said...
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Alex said...

Its easy in retrospect to see the seeds of The Beatles' dissolution during Rubber Soul. 3 huge egos could only last so long. Sorry Ringo, you were just there to keep the beat.

Surfed said...

Played this stuff since they wrote it. This is pretty amazing...

EDH said...

Not definitive, but found this:

At 7 pm these overdubs began, which focused first of all on John, Paul and George’s vocal harmonies throughout the song. No doubt with the help of George Martin’s arranging skills, these were perfected on this evening. Having decided to scrap the previous days’ “high register” harmonies at the beginning, a decision was made to sing in their normal vocal ranges a cappella for the introduction. John, Paul and George all double-tracked their vocals afterwards to add some further depth, since the vocals turn out to be the primary focus of the song. George also overdubbed electric lead guitar phrases at the end of each verse and bridge...

Sometime in 1999, a further improvement was made to the stereo mix in EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios) by engineers Peter Cobbin, Paul Hicks, Mirek Stiles and Allan Rouse. This mix, created for the re-release of the “Yellow Submarine” film and subsequent CD release, is noteworthy for the separation of the double-tracked vocals: one set of lead and harmony vocals on the left channel and the other set on the right channel. The rhythm track is centered in the mix while all of the lead guitar work is panned mostly in the right channel. The stereo mixes keep getting better and better...

Another unique characteristic is found in its introduction, which starts immediately on the downbeat of the first measure and features three-part harmony (actually four voices if you count John’s double-tracked overdub) being sung a cappella. Not one or two, but four full measures are sung in this way to instantly engulf your attention. The rhythm track, consisting of acoustic guitar, bass and drums, kicks in on the fifth measure (actually the upstroke of John’s acoustic guitar comes in just before the fifth measure) to finish off the verse. The vocals are found to be just slightly off-key when the emergence of the instruments come in, which shows that it is very likely that they were singing off of a strummed guitar chord (or such) to get the pitch, rather than an instrumental track being present during the a cappella performance as a guide that was omitted in the mixing stage. George’s electric guitar flourish fills in the gap after the lyrics conclude as a nice segue into the second verse that follows.

EDH said...

By the way, I love this song.

As I've pointed out before, Nowhere Man, Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D, reminds me of many a blogger.

Jeremy: "Ad hoc, ad loc and quid pro quo.

So little time — so much to know!"

George Harrison: Do you speak English?

Jeremy: Old English, Middle, a dialect pure ...

Paul McCartney: Well, do you speak English?

Jeremy: You know, I'm not sure!

Ringo: He's so smart he doesn't even remember what he knows.

Paul: Hey, fellers, look!

Jeremy: [Writing with his toes] The footnotes for my nineteenth book. This is my standard procedure for doing it. And while I compose it, I'm also reviewing it!

Jeremy: If I spoke prose you'd all find out...

I don't know what I talk about.

EDH said...

"He's happy enough, goin' round in circles."

So sad.

YoungHegelian said...
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YoungHegelian said...

Here's Eric Burdon (with the Animals) singing House of the Rising Sun like he's a black Mississippi bluesman.

The Ed Sullivan performance (which I can't find) is similar, but clearly the producer on the recording told him to cool it on the bluesman shtick.

Erika said...

I'm not a musical expert or a linguist, but I've studied a little of both, and a sense of pitch and rhythm is different than control over all the tiny variations in breath and tongue/lip positioning that determines an accent. He might have the capability of speaking without the charming Italian accent, but then again, maybe not.

creeley23 said...

Back in the nineties I heard Teri Gross interview the lead singer from "Simple Minds" and I was astonished by his thick, thick Glasgow accent. All I knew of him was the soaring vocal to "Don't You Forget About Me" which had no particular accent.

She asked him about this, and he replied that he learned to sing from American records and he discarded his accent to sound more like those records.

creeley23 said...

I'm impressed by Frudua's skill at reproducing those Beatles harmonies. Except for the slight accent, he really does sound like them.

Recently I've been reading about the skill of art forgers, particularly Elmyr de Hory, who have fooled many experts and museums with their paintings which are not copies of existing painting but new paintings in a famous artist's style.

So I wonder why there aren't musicians who can create new songs in the style, say, of the Beatle's Rubber Soul period. Is it just too hard to "forge" music that way? Considering that the number of working cover bands, it seems there would be money in it.

Any thoughts?

Alex said...

creeley - I'm more interested in new music then rehashing the old. There is a lot of interesting stuff happening in alternative.

EDH said...

Is it just too hard to "forge" music that way?

...Any thoughts?


Economics? Sell one art forgery and you make a decent score before they know to come after you.

If you're infringing music, you need to rack-up sale after sale with plenty of time for the copyright owner to intercede.

Rick Lee said...

Love this. I've often pointed out that "cover bands" rarely play the Beatles, and the reason is that the sound depends very much (going all the way back to the first albums) on the 3 part harmony that's quite difficult to replicate. It's difficult for a band to scare up ONE good singer.

creeley23 said...

If you're infringing music, you need to rack-up sale after sale with plenty of time for the copyright owner to intercede

I'm not talking about infringing music, just writing new songs in a known style well-enough to fool or please an audience.

Billy Joel did a song titled "Scandinavian Skies" in the style of the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" album. I'm not sure why he bothered, but I got a kick out of it.

Joan Osborne's "Let's Just Get Naked" is the best takeoff on the Velvet Underground I know, complete with Lou's whiny, warbly, flat, sing-songy vocal style.

Originality is overrated.

creeley23 said...

...the sound depends very much (going all the way back to the first albums) on the 3 part harmony that's quite difficult to replicate.

Rick Lee: I suspect that's the real reason. It's just too damn hard to create at the level of the Beatles -- not just the vocals.

Picasso tossed of two, three or four paintings a day. It's probably much easier to get the knack of doing a new Picasso than a new "Nowhere Man."

creeley23 said...

Dylan is actually a superb musical mimic. That's a big part of his secret, and probably why Joni Mitchell put him down as a "plagiarist," a "deception," and a "fake."

Try his "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" (with Traveling Wilburys) for Springsteen and "4th Time Around" for the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood."

Alex said...

What is this obsession here about 1960s music? Is everyone here an aging boomer?

Alex said...

Let's talk about 90s Britpop, alternative rock, underground bands!

Jake Diamond said...

And then there is the late Andrew Gold's bizarre album "Copy Cat."

creeley23 said...

Let's talk about 90s Britpop, alternative rock, underground bands!

Alex: Great idea! Why not start a topic on what you want to talk about on your own blog.

This topic, whether you like it or not, is about an Italian guy imitating a boomer band, and the rest of us are commenting in that vein, so fuck off.

sonicfrog said...

Back in the 90's, I was in a Beatles tribute band for a little bit. We got several hits down, and of course did the second side of Abbey Road.... Wow! That was some challenging stuff. I had always loved and respected the Beatle, but sitting down and picking through the arrangements of some of the songs gave me a whole new appreciation for what they were able to accomplish.

I wish we had a recording of us playing some of it, but I moved away and broke up the band before we could really do anything. Yeah, I was our own Yoko Ono!

My current band Acoustic Highway specializes in doing things with harmonies. We sing some Beatles, along with "White Bird" by It's A Beautiful Day, "California Dreaming", and a few Fleetwood Mac songs. Here we are playing on live television; our version of "Gold Dust Woman". I'm the midget playing the oversized acoustic bass.

sonicfrog said...

Alex said...

Its easy in retrospect to see the seeds of The Beatles' dissolution during Rubber Soul. 3 huge egos could only last so long. Sorry Ringo, you were just there to keep the beat.


Why does everyone feel the need to diss on Ringo. He added a certain wildness to the songs, a unique type of drumming that, in my opinion, mad the Beatles machine work. Listen to the few tracks that have been released with Pete Best on the skins. He might... might have been a better technical drummer, but Ringo was much more creative. I know his drumming doesn't seem all that much to us now in the modern era. But in his time he was considered a wonderful talent.

Don't take my word for it, google some interviews of some of the more revered drummers who came up after him - Keith Moon, John Bonham, Neil Peart, Phil Collins - They all have (had for the dead ones) nothing but the highest respect for Ringo's skills on the drums.

EDH said...

Sonicfrog,

You're "just a sentimentalist".

creeley23 said...

I am not a musician, not even on TV, but the musicians I know all tell me that the Beatles weren't only a great pop band but wrote very intricate, difficult songs that just sound simple. If other bands could reach half the level of the Beatles they would have, but they didn't because they couldn't.

I'm old enough to remember those Leonard Bernstein television specials explaining how remarkable their music was. Which was great because it shut up my pianist mother who adored Bernstein but insisted that no one would be listening to the Beatles in fifty years.

There was an amazing synergy between the Beatles and Ringo was an integral part of that. They weren't a band like Cream constantly blowing your socks off with their individual virtuosity. In no Beatles song do you hear someone take off on a flashy solo, except maybe My Guitar Gently Weeps because that's Eric Clapton sitting in. The Beatles all do their work, understatedly, and something larger emerges.

sonicfrog said...

EDH... I think I'm more of a "SantaMentalist"!

Badger Pundit said...
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Badger Pundit said...

Frudua's video-in-video Beatles cover reminded me of one by Dutch musician @JBDazen -- covering "Band on the Run" and singing all the parts, PLUS playing all the music:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyP08VFp7ro&list=PL210BADF2CA8DB98D&index=16

Beyond Dazen's exceptionally creative cover work, he does interesting original work -- like an album using ordinary household objects for background sounds, like "Tea":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxzvZgihrp4&list=PL8C7363CDFEF18C5F&index=2

Live version of "Tea," where you can see him create the sound samples, here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BYMpxr7l20