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Author Topic: Beach Boys Most Challenging Song (Instrumentally)  (Read 2144 times)
Rick5150
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« on: August 12, 2017, 06:29:55 AM »

Hopefully this makes sense, but what is the most challenging song Brian has composed?

I play guitar, but I am not great at it. When trying to pick out chords on a lot of their songs, I find that there are a lot of unconventional chords, or chords that you would not expect to be occurring in their music. I assume it was because the songs were written on piano where they make more "sense" but it got me to thinking what the most challenging songs were.

By that, I mean songs that use chords or techniques that may not be 'expected'. Key changes. Pitch changes beyond the usual 1/2 to 1 step. A song where something sounds right when listened to as a whole, but when listening to the music itself, you wonder how they got away with it. Barring the modular concept of assembling a song, of course.

As an example of this, I love This Whole World because the key changes are all over the place, but the vocals flow so well that it is not jarring or disjointed in any way.
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Hickory Violet Part IV
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2017, 07:52:30 AM »

So many to choose from, but I would have to pick Let's Go Away For Awhile. There are so many complex chords and quick changes, plus the tempo variations.  It's a tricky one to play.
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the captain
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2017, 08:16:54 AM »

Rick5150, one thing I'd keep in mind is that things that seem difficult or complicated on a single instrument (guitar, for example) might only not be so difficult or complicated on a different instrument (piano, for example), but might just be an unusual combination of relatively simple or at least normal-difficulty parts. The score--the combination of those horn parts, wind parts, percussion parts, piano parts, organ parts, guitar parts, bass parts, etc.--when presented as a guitar or piano reduction, might seem hard, but that doesn't mean the individual parts were. (As a made-up example, a crazy fingering on a guitar to ensure you get some non-chordal bass note as well as a major 9th or something might be a challenge, but for a bass clarinet and bass guitar to play that bass note while a guitar plays the simple major 7th and an organ adds the 9th is no big deal.)

Things you mentioned like key changes, unconventional chords, unusual pitch leaps, they aren't so much difficult as possibly unusual.

Not trying to be a wet blanket, it's a cool topic to discuss. Just pointing out that it's not often that Beach Boys music required instrumental virtuosity so much as that it was a really interesting combination of sounds.
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Rick5150
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 10:33:26 AM »

Point taken. Maybe I should re-title it to "most unusual"? In fact, that is exactly what I meant, thank you  Smiley
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mikeddonn
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 11:40:14 AM »

Point taken. Maybe I should re-title it to "most unusual"? In fact, that is exactly what I meant, thank you  Smiley

"This Whole World" is all over the place in a good way.  I think Don Was or Jeff Foskett mentioned it as not seeming to be in any key.  Another one I believe Jeff asked Brian about was "'Til I Die".  Brian told him he came up with the chords by making pretty shapes on the piano!
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2017, 11:53:46 AM »

She Knows Me Too Well seems like it would be a good contender…
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JK
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2017, 02:39:41 PM »

Another one I believe Jeff asked Brian about was "'Til I Die".  Brian told him he came up with the chords by making pretty shapes on the piano!

I was under the impression that Brian was trying out piano chords where the right and left hands mirrored each other. This is why there's virtually no melody to speak of----it was never about the melody. 
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 09:05:55 PM »

"God Only Knows" is a hard song to play. Not easy to sing, either!
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theradiantradicchio
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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2017, 02:53:32 AM »

I would say Surf's Up. So many different layers combined in one song.
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bossaroo
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2017, 08:35:55 AM »

Wonderful is up there.

Busy Doin Nothin
Don't Talk
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

Girls on the Beach is quite advanced too.
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Kid Presentable
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2017, 11:41:39 AM »

She Knows Me Too Well seems like it would be a good contender…

I figured out the "secret" to playing this song, it is actually one of the easiest BB songs I know once I figured that out.  Smiley

Regarding the main post, Please Let Me Wonder is giving me a lot of problems on the guitar and I am waiting for my "eureka!" moment to bring everything together.
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zatch
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« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2017, 04:11:20 PM »

There aren't a lot of examples of really technically-demanding instrumental playing on Beach Boy records. The most impressive performances I can think of are the country-infused electric guitar parts that are deeply buried in the mix of "This Whole World."
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bossaroo
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2017, 04:54:54 PM »

yeah all those parts played by the Wrecking Crew... nothing to it.  Roll Eyes


I think the topic refers more to which songs are most challenging to play on guitar or piano or whatever. the most complex chordally and compositionally.

as for instrumental performances, there's plenty to choose from.
how about the accordions on Wouldn't It Be Nice? or the theremin on IJWMFTT and GV? the sax on Old Master Painter? the xylophone on Holidays? the ukulele and steel guitar on Diamond Head? the harmonica on Ol Man River? the strings on Time to Get Alone? plenty of piano and guitar parts too. the list goes on and on
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zatch
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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2017, 05:20:33 PM »

The Wrecking Crew were/are world-class players, no doubt about it. Most of the parts themselves, as I said, aren't that technically-demanding. That's not an insult, they just didn't need to be!

Speaking of Sunflower, I can't believe I forgot to mention the really crazy drum parts from that album. "It's About Time" and "This Whole World" especially. I've transcribed both and still can't play them anywhere near full tempo.

Here She Comes has some really impressive piano, drum and bass playing.
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adamghost
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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2017, 12:02:33 AM »

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" is pretty brutal to negotiate in terms of the chord sequence.

The hardest song I've ever had to personally work out and learn of the Beach Boys (out of probably 70 songs over the years) was "Long Promised Road," which was Carl's.
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James Hughes-Clarke
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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2017, 04:09:11 AM »

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" is pretty brutal to negotiate in terms of the chord sequence.

The hardest song I've ever had to personally work out and learn of the Beach Boys (out of probably 70 songs over the years) was "Long Promised Road," which was Carl's.

Not wishing to blow my own trumpet (OK maybe just a bit...) but this is my voice / guitar version of I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.  As you'll see in the comments, I get many replies asking for the chord charts.  Likewise my guitar cover of Busy Doin Nothing, which is on YouTube too

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LgZvONpoOw
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JK
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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2017, 04:35:11 AM »

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" is pretty brutal to negotiate in terms of the chord sequence.

The hardest song I've ever had to personally work out and learn of the Beach Boys (out of probably 70 songs over the years) was "Long Promised Road," which was Carl's.

Not wishing to blow my own trumpet (OK maybe just a bit...) but this is my voice / guitar version of I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.  As you'll see in the comments, I get many replies asking for the chord charts. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LgZvONpoOw

That's stunning, J. Obviously you've had to choose what to play and what not, but the feel is that of the original. And the theremin swoop towards the end is quite something. Proficiat!

I was straining to hear the trumpet. Was it edited out? Smokin
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James Hughes-Clarke
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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2017, 05:08:08 AM »

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" is pretty brutal to negotiate in terms of the chord sequence.

The hardest song I've ever had to personally work out and learn of the Beach Boys (out of probably 70 songs over the years) was "Long Promised Road," which was Carl's.

Not wishing to blow my own trumpet (OK maybe just a bit...) but this is my voice / guitar version of I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.  As you'll see in the comments, I get many replies asking for the chord charts. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LgZvONpoOw

That's stunning, J. Obviously you've had to choose what to play and what not, but the feel is that of the original. And the theremin swoop towards the end is quite something. Proficiat!

I was straining to hear the trumpet. Was it edited out? Smokin

 LOL

I'm still trying to perfect my 'muted trumpeter swan', but I'm finding costume a bit uncomfortable.   Wink
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HeyJude
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2017, 09:52:36 AM »

I checked out a vintage music book from a library a number of years back that combined "Sunflower" and "Surf's Up", and it confirmed what I already knew: "This Whole World" has literally SIX THOUSAND CHORDS in it.  LOL

A lot of BB stuff isn't in guitar-friendly keys even if there are fewer actual chord changes. Some alternate tunings or transposing is needed to play some of that stuff.
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« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2017, 12:58:46 AM »

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" is pretty brutal to negotiate in terms of the chord sequence.

The hardest song I've ever had to personally work out and learn of the Beach Boys (out of probably 70 songs over the years) was "Long Promised Road," which was Carl's.
That surprises me, because I find that one easier than a lot of the others. Also easier to sing because it's in a lower range that the surf/sand/girls era songs.
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2017, 01:00:35 AM »

I checked out a vintage music book from a library a number of years back that combined "Sunflower" and "Surf's Up", and it confirmed what I already knew: "This Whole World" has literally SIX THOUSAND CHORDS in it.  LOL

A lot of BB stuff isn't in guitar-friendly keys even if there are fewer actual chord changes. Some alternate tunings or transposing is needed to play some of that stuff.
I'm a guitar player than can play rudimentary piano, but I tend to sit at the piano to play most Beach Boys songs. You're right, they're not in guitar friendly keys and the voicings of the chords are often very unusual. I'll put it this way, it's not like playing Johnny Cash songs!
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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2017, 03:24:54 AM »

It's Over Now is a contender.
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2017, 09:31:43 AM »

Cabin Essence I don't see mentioned and I've never been able to get anywhere with that one myself.  The others are certainly possible for a person to deal with since good charts have been published (well, not all), Let's Go Away For Awhile loses its challenge when one sees the notes printed on the music stand in front of you

Busy Doin' Nothing I agree is quite a challenge to play something satisfying.  And you're going to want to sing that one too regardless if you have much of a voice (the lyrics and the way Brian speak-sings them are just too ingrained in our consciousness)
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« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2017, 01:49:24 AM »

While it might not be the most challenging, Had to Phone Ya is a very great piece. Take a listen to the instrumental in MIC, and you will most definitely tell that it's a advanced instrumental
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Mike Garneau
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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2017, 05:31:00 PM »

I'm going with Cabinessence. I've tried to play along with that song but just like what hideyotsuburaya said I've never been able to get anywhere with it. Shame considering it's one of my favorite songs.
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