Improvising on The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling”

Hey Improvisers,

One of the great things about The Beatle’s music is how it draws on so many types of musical influences. In the case of “Oh! Darling,” the primary influence is good old 1950s early rock and roll.

The Beatles were teenagers during the 1950s, and the music of that time really inspired them to go into music themselves. They loved the doo-wop of groups like The Drifters, the harmonies of the standard songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter that were still on the radio at that time, and the lively blues-based rock and roll of Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Little Richard.

“Oh! Darling” harks back to all of these genres. It features a 12/8 rhythm that’s reminiscent of doo-wop, contains a few harmonic twists that would feel at home on a Gershwin tune, and has a melody that would fit right in during a Little Richard concert.

We pianists can draw upon these various musical elements during our interpretations of the song as well. On this video I’ve made, see how you can can establish a solid 12/8 groove, by sometimes drawing from Paul McCartney’s original bass line as well as using a standard barrelhouse blues left-hand pattern. In addition, we can enjoy soloing, using both the regular blues scale as well as the major blues scale, while throwing in a touch of jazz as well over the ii/V chord progression when it appears.

Here’s the video:

Oh! Darling: Complete Beatles Piano #17

Enjoy the journey and let the music flow!


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