Music expert deconstructs The Beatles

Scott Freiman explains the creation and meaning behind individual songs within "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."Alana Mueller | Hudsonian

Scott Freiman explains the creation and meaning behind individual songs within “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Elizabeth Farstad
Staff Writer

Hudson Valley students and members of the community joined together on Thursday, May 4 to listen to producer, musician and composer Scott Freiman do what he does best: talk about The Beatles.

Freiman, who has previously visited Hudson Valley, is widely known for his demonstrations titled “Deconstructing The Beatles.” The album he focused on during this visit was “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” a wildly renowned album that celebrates its 50th anniversary on May 26.

Freiman has presented his lectures to sold-out audiences across the country at theaters, museums and corporations, including Pixar, Google and Facebook. He also taught a 13-part course at Yale University about The Beatles.

The two-hour presentation delved deeply into all aspects of the album. Freiman began by explaining why “Sgt. Peppers” was so revolutionary.

“It was a groundbreaking album from beginning to end, and it changed the way albums were perceived,” said Frieman.

“Today, we listen to Spotify [and] we hear one song after another by different artists, and that’s very much how it was before “Sgt. Peppers”; it was a singles world,” he said.

He spent the majority of his time deconstructing the songs from the album one by one. He played snippets of each song, but instead of playing the song as a whole, he isolated each aspect of the track.

For example, with the titular song, he began by showcasing only the lead and background vocals. Then, after a few seconds, he added in the instrumentals one by one, such as the French horn and electric guitar.

“[We] absolutely loved it when we could hear the singers, like John and Paul, singing by themselves,” said freshman Allie Sherry about the specific elements were isolated.

With most songs, he explained how The Beatles used innovative techniques to create sounds and effects never before used when recording albums.

Freiman shared some examples of the methods the band created to achieve certain sounds.

According to Freiman, one of the most creative techniques was developed when John Lennon and Paul McCartney couldn’t find the specific sound they wanted.

“They decided to take a plastic comb, wrap some toilet paper around it and use it as a makeshift kazoo, which was included in the song ‘Lovely Rita,’” he said.

The Beatles also were creative with standard equipment used in the 1960s, using them differently to achieve unique sounds by changing the functionality of tools like echo chambers and volume pedals.

One of the songs Freiman explained in depth was “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
Due to its complex nature, Lennon developed the idea for the song after seeing an advertisement for a circus, and therefore wanted to create a “circus-like” sound.

The song showcased the resourcefulness of The Beatles in their use of several unique sound effects, a rarely utilized calliope tape and over ten separate instruments.

“My favorite thing I learned was that Mr. Kite was all based around a circus,” said Chris Payne, a second-year Hudson Valley student. “I also really liked how they were interested and inspired by other artists, such as Frank Zappa,” said Payne.

When the presentation concluded, Freiman explained the reason he chooses to dedicate his life to learning and teaching the ins-and-outs of The Beatles. He said his uncle gave him a copy of “Sgt. Peppers” when he was seven-years-old.

“I was amazed just by the album cover, and I was hooked on The Beatles before I even listened to them” said Frieman.

Freiman currently has four films being released, all based on his series of “Deconstructing The Beatles.”

More information on Freiman, his career and, of course, The Beatles, can be found at

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