It is said that the 4 beatle never learned music theory, and is proven by many interviews from them. They are known for writing rock hits that had always hit the charts and the songs they had written is deconstructed by many professionals all the time, and be given praise by them. I am sure the talent plays a massive role in how their songs is written perfectly (by rock standards) but I don't understand how they constructed full songs if they didn't use music theory. Sure, every guitar player who doesn't know music theory can play a sweet melody by noodling, but speaking for myself, it is very hard to give it a perfect chord progression and bassline in key. As I said they were extremely talented, but I think they were going into an excruciating trial and error progress if they didn't know music theory.

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    Keep in mind that music was created before music theory was created to explain it. Theory is an analysis and explanation of something that is creative and artistic. One doesn’t need to know a thing about music theory to create music. That being said, regardless of what the Beatles or whoever said in interviews it is obvious that they had a fundamental understanding of harmony and could construct sound chord progressions. Sometimes they follow functional harmony principles and sometimes they don’t, even within one song. That is true of a lot of music in many styles. Apr 16, 2022 at 5:57
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    I'd guess that most folk who can swim don't know the theory behind what makes it possible. Same idea with music theory.
    – Tim
    Apr 16, 2022 at 6:49
  • Beatles dont know music theory? Source to that claim? There music always striked as harmonically speaking quite complex for a pop band.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 16, 2022 at 11:12
  • @NeilMeyer - I once used the chord progressions Ab7/Gb -> F7 and F7/C -> D7 in the same piece of classical music while only ever figuring out that the 1st chords of both were voice-leading constructs (and chromatic mediants of the dominant, I guess). Middle-fingering theory has its advantages sometimes, and I therefore bet that the Beatles can also come up with similarly complex and cool chord progressions without knowing what they're doing.
    – Dekkadeci
    Apr 16, 2022 at 15:28
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    One can't help wondering how much input George Martin had with any/all of the Beatles' songs... He was pretty well up on theory!
    – Tim
    Apr 17, 2022 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


The Beatles were unschooled but not uneducated. They did pick up quite a bit of practical music theory. One need not know the names of chords or patterns to use them.

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    George Harrison must have known something to write a chord progression like the one in while my guitar gently weeps.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 16, 2022 at 11:14
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    @NeilMeyer - not necessarily. Before becoming famous, they played very long gigs, probably >60 numbers a night. Playing for that long - and rehearsing in between, they're almost bound to have 'discovered' some different chord sequences. True, with theory under their belts, it may have taken a lot less time, but even missing theory didn't hold them back. And where would theory start and finish? And - George did know 'Something' - didn't he write it?
    – Tim
    Apr 17, 2022 at 9:31
  • That is my whole point you dont write one of the prettiest chord progressions ever by accident. Somewhere, somehow they must have learnt a fair few things.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 17, 2022 at 9:58

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