How Instrumental Solos Fit into the Formal Structure of Beatles Songs Released Prior to September 1963
Yesterday's blog was a structural analysis of "Good Morning Good Morning" in which I commented on the fact that the solo replaces a verse (meaning that the solo section is an iteration of the verse, but with the guitar solo replacing the vocals). That is an aspect of Beatles music I have noticed quite frequently, and has sparked an idea for a series of analyses of how instrumental solos fit into the formal structure of Beatles songs. The goal of this series of posts is to find patterns in how the Beatles use solos in a structural sense. Do they usually replace verses? Or choruses? Middle 8s? Or do they tend to be structurally independent entities? Only one way to find out for sure...
One thing is worth pointing out prior to beginning: I use the term "solo" to describe any instrumental break that is more than a brief riff or motive. So, for example, in the songs "Baby It's You" and "From Me To You", the so-called solos are actually duets - two instruments sharing the spotlight simultaneously. Despite the fact that the term solo literally means a single instrument, for simplicity and consistency I will refer to them all as solos.
 "Love Me Do" features a harmonica solo played by John Lennon. The solo section is in essence a second middle 8 with the harmonica replacing the vocals. In addition, the solo is extended: The middle 8 lasts 8 bars, while the solo lasts 12. This difference of 4 bars is found at the end of the solo, when Lennon improvises rather than imitates the previously heard vocals.
 "P. S. I Love You" contains no instrumental solo.
 "Please Please Me" contains no instrumental solo.
 "Ask Me Why" contains no instrumental solo.
 "There's a Place" contains no instrumental solo.
 "I Saw Her Standing There" contains a guitar solo played by George Harrison. Structurally speaking, though it resembles the verses and middle 8s, it is not closely based an any other sections. The progressions, while they do share chords, are not the same as either the verse or the middle 8. Thus, the solo in "I Saw Her Standing There" is independent of the rest of the song from a structural point of view.
[6b] "A Taste of Honey" contains no instrumental solo.
 "Do You Want to Know a Secret" contains no instrumental solo.
 "Misery" contains no instrumental solo.
 "Hold Me Tight" contains no instrumental solo.
[9b] "Anna (Go To Him)" contains no instrumental solo.
[9c] "Boys" contains a guitar solo played by George Harrison. While it bears small differences with the chorus (Paul's bassline and Ringo's fills differ slightly ), it is close enough to say that the solo is based on the chorus, meaning that structurally speaking the solo is the chorus with the guitar replacing the lead and backing vocals.
[9d] "Chains" contains no instrumental solo.
[9e] "Baby It's You" contains a guitar solo played by George Harrison, doubled on the celesta by George Martin. Though not identical to the verse (the solo adds an extra chord in the second measure, which the verses all omit), the solo section it is close enough to say that the solo is based on the verse, meaning that structurally speaking the solo is the verse with the guitar and celesta replacing the lead and backing vocals.
[9f] "Twist and Shout" contains a guitar duet played by George Harrison and John Lennon. In contributing to the solo (duet), Lennon necessarily has to stop playing his guitar chords, and in doing so contributes to a downshift in energy during this section. To further this effect, Paul's bassline is restricted to a slightly lower tessitura, and Ringo's beat moves from a constant 8th note pulse on the ride cymbal to the much drier closed hi-hat. Although the solo section uses an identical chord progression to the verses, the decrease in energy highlights this section as a contrast to the verses. In that way, the solo section blurs the line between solo and middle 8. Regardless, the solo section in "Twist and Shout" is structurally independent of the rest of the song (i.e. it is not an iteration of another section but with the solo instruments replacing the vocals as is the case in many other Beatles tracks).
 "From Me To You" contains a harmonica solo played by John Lennon, doubled on bass by Paul McCartney. The duet imitates the vocals, as heard in previous verses, thus the solo functions structurally as a verse. Moreover, the solo only lasts for half of the verse, with the vocals returning for the second half.
 "Thank You Girl" contains no instrumental solo.
 "She Loves You" contains no instrumental solo.
 "I'll Get You" contains no instrumental solo.
Just as I did for my blog series on structural functions of middle 8s, I am including a PDF chart illustrating my findings. This chart will be continued as this blog series continues.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.