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How The Beatles Changed the World of Music

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

The Beatles were pioneers in the new age of rock, creating timeless music that still makes them one of the most popular artists in history.

In my opinion, what makes The Beatles so amazing is how they created a sound that combined the show-tune music of the 1940s with the rock ‘n’ roll sound from the ‘50s. Growing up, The Beatles listened to first-generation rock ‘n’ roll and the music of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Larry William, and later on, the Shirelles and the Miracles. With the Beatles’ widespread visibility, they began to expand the range of rock. Their first hits “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” and “I Saw Her Standing There” have harmonies and melodies more inventive than standard rock tunes heard in the 50s. Beginning with their album Rubber Soul, they began to capture sharp portraits of first-hand people and experiences that were more captivating than rock could achieve. Traditionally in rock ‘n’ roll, there was a rigid structure of a 4/4 tempo, 32 bars, and limited instruments, but The Beatles expanded this lyrically and musically.

With their producer Geroge Martin and sound engineer Geoff Emerick, The Beatles revolutionized the use of recording technology. The 1950s and 1960s saw the use of four-track recorders where musicians had to record every instrument within four tracks. They cut and experimented with sound, maxing out on this four-track, and eventually eight-track machines, and eventually created a sound that was unable to be imitated on stage. In “Tomorrow Never Knows,” John wanted his voice to sound like he was singing from a mountain top 25 miles away. Emerick was able to create this sound for him by using a rotating speaker from the Hammond organ, cutting its circuitry, and putting John’s voice into it. While looping today is a common practice in music, The Beatles first used it in songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” which has a sped-up recording of McCartney laughing to sound like a seagull, an orchestral chord, a mellotron playing a flute, and a sped-up sitar playing a scale. One of my favorite anecdotes is when Ringo put tea towels on his drums and stuffed his sweater inside the kick drum to create a certain sound. While these are just a few examples of how The Beatles used sound technology, they also used artificial double-tracking, tape creativity, and automatic transient overload control. The Beatles revolutionized the idea behind albums by creating Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; a fictional performance by The Beatles’ alter egos. This was one of the first concept albums of all time since the idea was to connect all the songs together.

The Beatles became icons of youth culture and change, experimenting with music, fashion, art, sexual desire, drugs, and morality. Songs like “All You Need is Love” became beacons of freedom and cultural transformation. When The Beatles were no longer touring or appearing on TV, they became pivotal in the development of music videos, breaking the rules of media at the time. For example, in “Penny Lane,” they ride scared through parks, and in “From Me To You” they play a beat band in a theater. 

Turning the world of music upside down in just seven years, The Beatles were significantly influential in the music world and the social culture at the time.

Girl Holding Vinyl Record
Breanna Coon / Her Campus

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Angie Oliynyk

U Mass Amherst '25

Angie is currently a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. There, she studies management and is inspired by all things fashion and beauty! She enjoys listening to music, walking her dogs, and spending too much money thrifting.