The Friday Fermentable: figuring out chords while drinking wine

i-71f25a7031d7f239e0c1c314a90d8242-PE_Viognier_sm.jpgMuch hubbub is to be had today over the work of Dalhousie University mathematics professor, Dr Jason Brown, in solving the mystery of George Harrison's opening chord of The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night," played on a Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar. The PDF of Prof Brown's report is available online.

As the report and article show, The Beatles did indeed record this in one take with no overdubbing such that Harrison could not have played the chord alone. We now learn from Brown's work and others that Harrison and Lennon played two different guitars but the nice flavor was added by producer George Martin playing a piano chord.

The link to The Friday Fermentable is that I am enjoying a particularly flavorful 2006 Peirano Estates Lodi (CA) Viognier from their Heritage Collection ($14.99 USD) while composing this post after a lovely dinner of Thai takeout while sitting here with the two young ladies who define and enrich my life.

I was very lucky to have had a high school history professor who looked like John Lennon with whom I played in my first band in 1980-81. Fortunately for me and no surprise, he was a huge fan of The Beatles and taught me a few rally neat guitar tricks - he also had great confidence in me that I could successfully learn the opening bass and guitar line of "Daytripper." So although I was born at the unclassifiable junction of the end of the post WWII Baby Boom and beginning of Gen X, I had some limited but workable chops for early rock.

The Beatles were indeed an incredible influence of visionary musicians led by an outstanding producer. Moreover, I have always held that the late George Harrison was one of the most hugely accomplished but equally underappreciated rock guitarists of his time.

Anyway, Prof Brown's paper is great and solves a 40-year mystery. However, reality requires that hack guitarists like me make the best approximation of the opening chord because the rest of the song is pretty easy. So, if you have a 12-string guitar, the following works pretty well as the opening chord - and doesn't suck too badly on a 6-string.


How to do this: play a G7 chord with your first three fingers, then lay your pinky on the 3rd fret of the B-string to hit a D note.

Most folks are pretty drunk by the time you'd get to this in your set and it actually still sounds pretty authentic to the designated drivers.

Finally, I know that Canadian scientist salaries aren't very good but one would think that a guitarist of Prof Brown's scientific stature would be able to buy a Rickenbacker 360/12 rather than the Ibanez shown in his photo in the ScienceDaily press release.

Disclosure: I do not own a Rickenbaker 360/12 - however, I sure would like to.

(h/t Bora/Coturnix)

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:-) Your posts are most enjoyable, Pharmboy. And isn't viognier a delightful varietal? In the same price range, Sweetpea, Joe-across-the-street, and I have found the viognier by Smoking Loon to be quite pleasant.

By Erleichda (not verified) on 01 Nov 2008 #permalink

Viognier, yummm. It's getting close to half of the white wines that we drink. We used to try a lot of different ones. Never really found an actual Rhone one that was a good value and consistent supply. There's lots of very nice California ones of course, but we eventually found that the ones we like best were less than a hour's drive away. The Horton Vineyard was one of the first wineries on the east coast to plant viognier and they got some positive attention in the mid to late 90s for their offering. They also make a sparkling viognier that is an excellent value. In the 2002-2005 period, we started to slightly prefer the viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. In 2006, Horton came back strong. I think their 2006 is the best white wine I've had in the past 10 years. (My wife is also enthusiastic, although maybe not that much.) The 2007s should start coming out pretty soon and it will be very interesting to see what they've done in a year with almost ideal growing conditions.

Lovely to hear from you two fine gentlemen. Erleichda, thanks for checking in - I have your Mediterranean wine column from September in the queue from next Friday.

As DrZZ notes, Virginia has some tremendous viogniers. Holy cow, that's a pretty strong endorsement for Chrysalis! I still haven't gotten up there but have been meaning to since Erleichda wrote about his roadtrip with Sweetpea back in September 2006. His favorite back then was a 2005 Michael Shaps' "Monticello" Viognier from the King Family Vineyards. They also visited Barboursville but it does not appear that they tried their viognier offering.

Just as an aside about the general issue of outstanding US wines outside of the Pacific coastal states, I tried my first viognier in the mid-1990s at Grande River Vineyards in Palisade, Colorado, on the Western Slope just east of Grand Junction. Grand Jct begins the desert that stretches west into Utah but the Palisade/Clifton area is a lush valley bordered by two mountain ranges. There are now eight wineries in the Grand Valley and it's a lovely area with B&Bs and some interesting natural history. If you ever fly into Grand Jct on the way to Telluride, Montrose, or other points in SW Colorado, it's worth putting in another day on either side of your trip.