Musicians: What piano chord is played at 2:59 on "Let It Be"?

AFAIK, the album version and the studio version have slightly different guitar solos, but use exactly the same piano track. And the “flub” is clearly in both links. The “naked” version, though, uses a different piano track.

Because mistakes get left on records all the time (or at least used to), and this is not a particularly egregious one. Perhaps they heard it and decided it kind of sounded cool. I don’t know. If you hear any performances of “Let It Be” or even the version from “Let It Be…Naked,” that flub isn’t in there. To my ears, it doesn’t sound intentional at all.

Musicat: I would suggest not posting the complete song since it is illegal.

It does seem odd that a mistake was not removed, but I can tell you from my years in Hollywood, mistakes sometimes get through. And when they do, they may take on a life of their own and no one tries to fix them later.

I could extract almost any 1 second from this song and it would be clear what the harmony is. Our mystery spot isn’t, which makes me think something else is going on.

My favorite example of something that slipped by a professional musician came from a movie soundtrack – I don’t remember which one – that I had to write a lead sheet for. Conventional orchestration, steady beat, but right in the middle, something sounded strange, like the tune took a jump in between a 4/4 bar. And this was a full orchestra, so it couldn’t be just a piano glitch!

Playing it back repeatedly and carefully, I found a half-beat (eighth note) extra. I wrote it as 4/4…1/8…4/4… When the composer got the sheet, he called me up and complained loudly that he didn’t write anything like that. I played the tape back to him and told him to count carefully.

He had to agree with what I heard and wrote, but…

Turns out the recording engineer had spliced two takes, but didn’t match a bar end with a bar beginning, and there really was a half-beat in the final recording! Needless to say, I removed the 1/8 bar from the lead sheet on request, but the soundtrack was never fixed AFAIK.

Fair use provisions allow such for academic purposes, and many copies exist on YouTube. Would you rather I post it there?

I don’t think of it as mistake or a flub, just a different performance on a different take with a different, and interesting, chord. Why wouldn’t it be intentional? It’s not like it sounds bad (like if he hit an A# and C# along with his A minor), in fact, IMO, it sounds beautiful.

Regardless of how it got there, I’d really love to know exactly what is being played. I’m rather vexed that I can’t figure it out myself which is why I started this thread. We’ve seen a variety of suggestions which I have tried in various inversions and none of them sound right to me. By any chance has anyone else tried any of these chords out to see if they match the chord on the recording?

PS- I’m working a little YouTube clip that compares the “Naked” version to the “One” version (“One” has a far better mix then the original album) so you can compare the two different versions right next to each other.

The problem is that it isn’t clear. I have absolutely no problem picking out the notes, even short ones, for most of the song, and I can make a good guess even for parts that have multiple layers of instruments. But that particular, short spot is muddy, and that’s what makes me think something odd is going on, like a rogue mix.

Unless you can get an answer direct from Paul or Ringo, or a copy of the original multi-track master, it seems like an unrewarding pursuit at this point. I wish I could answer your question, but other than clearing up a trivia mystery, what’s the point?

Plus, even if I’m wrong, what I said works. From the isolation, I can hear for sure that there’s a D on top.

Seriously, just try it. Play along with the piece, and play A-E-A in the left hand and G-B-D in the right hand, then shift to A-C-E for the next chord. You don’t need to take my word for it.

(And, BTW, I wasn’t disgareeing with anyone else. There is a B (the 2nd or 9th) and a G (the 7th) in the chord. There’s just also a D in the chord. There is only one note difference between an Am(add 9) and an Am11.)

Edit for nitpickers: No, there is no C in the chord. But that note is often left out, due to the clash with the B. Like I said above, if you prefer, you can call the chord an Em7/A.

Accidentally deleted a sentence. My point is, if you can play the piece with something that sounds like that funky chord we like, doesn’t that mean you’ve achieved your goal? Trying to get more exact that that is probably impossible from such a muddy recording.

I vote flub that they decided to leave in. Especially since it’s a McCartney composition. They loved to play with that kind of stuff. Not they they wouldn’t have done something like that intentionally, and did, but as pointed out above on that song and with it being so muddy I have to think in this case it was a mistake originally.

I finished my short “Let It Be” chord comparison video and put it up on You Tube here.

I have some other stuff (mostly thank yous) I want to write but I wanted to get this You Tube link up ASAP in case anyone is interested. It’s alternating snippets of the chord in question; one from the “Let It Be… Naked” album and the other from the Beatles “One” album (or is it “1”?). The video is only about 30 seconds long.

Hopefully the description on the You Tube page explains it a little better.

Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions so far. I really appreciate them. I said that I have played all of the suggestions mentioned but that none of them sounded right to me. That doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for you guys trying to help me! It might just mean that I’m not hearing it even though it’s there.

Truth is—and this is my little mea culpa—I’m just not as good at carrying on a happy, positive SDMB conversation as I’d like to be. All I’ve hoped for from this thread is some help, comments, and ideas and I’ve gotten that in spades. It’s just that when we’re all talking about conflicting ideas and so on I tend to dive in and get all opinionated and it just doesn’t come off as well-meaning as I intend it to. It sucks and I’m just trying to get better about it.

I dearly wish I could get a copy of the master track, or a call from Macca! Regarding “what’s the point?”—at the risk of sounding standoffish (see: my fretting above) the point to me is that I’m in love with that chord and I’ve always wanted to know how to play it. The trivia angle has some value too—in a trivial SDMBish kinda way ;). In any event, you’ve had a lot of interesting and well-informed things to add to this thread and I really appreciate your input, Musicat.
I notice that some folks have mentioned the chord is hard to discern because the recordings are muddy. We’ve talked about and linked to so many different versions here that I can’t keep “track” anymore, but I do think that a lot of the versions linked to on You Tube have been pretty muddy. However I don’t believe that all of that can be blamed on the signal loss that comes with You Tube uploading/downloading compression because the most prevalent versions of the song—the single and the cut from the “Let It Be” album (even the re-mastered version) are rather muddy mixes when compared to the mix on “One”. That one’s clear as a bell.

That’s one of the versions I used in my You Tube comparison video. The other is from “Naked” which is not as clear. A couple points on that:

  1. Of course my “crystal clear” version from “One” has now been put up on You Tube and hence is going to lose some fidelity. But I’ve listened to my clip on YT and it’s still really clear.

  2. If anyone has a copy of “One” on CD or digital download it’s probably best if you listen to that if you can.

  3. The version from “Naked” that I uploaded was second hand so I don’t know how clean it is if you listen on CD.
    I hope my little comparison video on You Tube enables people to do a little more direct compare/contrast thing if they feel so inclined.

Thanks again for all of the great help!

I Love Me, Vol 1:

Many moons ago, I took piano lessons for a few years. Alas, it was not my forte. :smiley:

My sister, who could hear a song once then play it by ear, was the gifted piano player/musician/singer.

I have The Complete Beatles (vol. I & II) for piano, vocal, guitar. The book shows Am.
These links may help. If not, send a comment to the guy. He seems to welcome questions, and/or comments.

I’m not a musician so I don’t know if this is at all helpful, but I looked at the segment in question in a sound editor with spectrogram functionality.

On the “odd” chord, I see peaks at E4, B4, D5, F5, D6, and E6.
On the “normal” chord, the peaks are at E4, D5, E5, D6, and E6.

It’s a little hard to distinguish the peaks from the background, so these may be a little wrong. But it certainly seems like an E5 was subtracted and a B4 and F5 added. No idea what this implies in terms of named chords.

Until your autobiography gets published, I still cling to the hope that something will take me within 200 miles of your geographical location so that I can drop in on you, bring a case of whatever it is you most like to drink (even if that’s just apple juice) and listen to your stories.

I agree with those of you who think it was probably a little mistake that they (at least Paul) were aware of having made, and decided to keep it in because it sounded fine, maybe even better. I feel almost sure that this is just what happened, for example, with that extra half-measure (two beats) in “Rain” – though some Dopers believe that was more likely intentional from the start.

Another reason the Beatles kept things like this in is because it was otherwise the best take, and they didn’t want to try a splice at that spot (splices could lead to problems, especially in the analog age, and each take might have a slightly different “sonic atmosphere”). Steve Matteo, in his book Let It Be, claims that this was why Paul’s “fuckin’ hell” comment was kept in “Hey Jude”. (He could be wrong about that, though.)

Sure, the G/A or Am11 works, but that’s why I’m not completely sold on it. It sounds a little more off than that. Maybe it’s because I’m expecting the Am there that the G/A is throwing me off, but it sounds a bit more dissonant than that chord. I could be wrong, though. It might be that chord, but it doesn’t sound quite “right” (as in the same on the recording) to me.

The original idea behind the Let It Be album (originally called Get Back) was to show the Beatles writing/recording/performing an album of songs live without aid of overdubbing which had become common practice in their work at the time. The mistake in question on the song Let It Be was probably kept to uphold the original mandate of the album. In the end though, they wound up straying from the idea of a raw presentation and the finished Let It Be album released in 1970 has songs with varying degrees of studio fixes applied. The Let It Be song is of course a perfect example given that there are two different guitar solo overdubs and an orchestra and choir. On the other hand a song like “For You Blue” appears to be an unadored live performance.

The song Let It Be is actually available in a number of different versions - the single and album version, which are from the same take with the piano error; the ‘Naked’ version ( a different take), the Beatles Anthology version (a more raw early rehearsal) and the version in the film Let It Be (another different take with slightly different lyrics…actually it might be more than one take spliced together).

I don’t know if this helps at all but another mix of the song exists that might be worth examining: one of the “Glyn Johns” mixes. Glyn Johns was the engineer on the sessions and was later tasked with compiling an album from them. He made two attempts to compile an album and both were rejected, leaving the project dormant until the following year when Phil Spector compiled the final released version. (Both Glyn Johns versions circulate as bootlegs.)

The above link is the same take as on the released single and album cut but in a different mix. Listen for the piano error at about 3:12. The only overdub received so far is a guitar solo, no orchestra or choir yet.

In trying to find the above link I found another intriguing early rehearsal version I’d never heard before.

That take is either 1/2 step fast or they played it in D flat. My guess is it was fast; while tape machines of that era were reliably steady, they were not reliable in absolute speed. It was very common for me to get professional, finished recordings that were 1/4 step too fast or slow, and those went to the disc mastering lab, which may have added (or subtracted) its own speed variation. There was almost no speed calibration in those days.

Yes I noticed that. Well, we’re in bootleg land so all sorts of possibilities abound for where a tape speed error could’ve occurred. :slight_smile: