A Guide To Help You Have More Fun At Your Piano
History and overview:
Lennon and McCartney’s “And I Love Her,” composed in 1964, shows the influence of Latin music on The Beatles. Pop songs like “Spanish Harlem” and bossa novas such as “The Girl From Ipanema” were big hits in the late 1950s – early 60s, and The Beatles occasionally incorporated gentle Latin rhythms into their softer songs. They did this on their cover version of the Broadway show tune “Till There Was You,” and they revisited Latin beats throughout their career, notably on “I Will” from The White Album.
Here are some recommended recordings/videos:
(for international readers who may not have access to these YouTube links, I’ve indicated the original album names wherever possible so you can listen to them on music streaming services, etc.)
Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night
Pat Metheny: What’s It All About
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
A home recording
Musical ideas and piano improv practice tips:
“And I Love Her” is a beautiful tune to play on piano, and even within the soft Latin style, it’s a pretty flexible song. You can emphasize the rock/pop quality of it by sticking mostly with triads and a straight-ahead beat. Or, you can add 7th and some 9th chords to give it a more jazz harmonic sound, which will bring it into the realm of Latin Jazz. The melody’s use of D# in the 2nd measure, over a C#m chord, implies the 9th so the song kind of goes there anyway. It’s all a question of which influence you wish to magnify in your interpretation.
There’s a lovely modulation halfway through the song, up a half step from the key of E to F. I think there were two reasons for this key change, which is unusual in pop and rock music. The first reason is that The Beatles were influenced by musical theater songs, and this half-step modulation is common in the musical theater world. Secondly, the song could begin to sound a little too repetitive if it stayed in the same key too long, and the new key sounds refreshing when the modulation happens. (The Beatles apparently did find the song to be in danger of seeming too repetitive. At the suggestion of their producer, George Martin, they added the short bridge right there during the recording session!)
Here’s a demonstration of the improvisational possibilities that “And I Love Her” gives to us pianists:
And I Love Her: Complete Beatles Piano #4
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
Further links and resources:
And I Love Her: The Beatles Bible
Leonard Bernstein: What is Sonata Form? (starting at 2:03)
Always staying current, Bernstein played and sang “And I Love Her” in the same year it was released, as a way to demonstrate 3-part musical form.
Paul McCartney: MTV Unplugged 1991
Flowing Water ebook: Play piano with more joy and less stress!
Introduction Table of Contents