Lady Madonna (The Beatles)



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Lady Madonna

The Beatles

Lady Madonna was released as a single in 1968, and was composed by Paul McCartney. It is a tribute to women who work while carrying out their role as mothers, a subject that was already topical at the time. The composition is built around the piano part, a kind of boogie in the spirit of Fats Domino.

The Beatles recorded it just before their meditation stay in India. In addition to the usual Beatles instrumentation they added a saxophone section (two tenors and two baritones). Paul didn’t have a precise arrangement to propose so they made it very simple: a lot of double riffs (horns and saturated guitars plugged into the same amp), imitation horns on vocals, tenor solo. This also gives a lot of energy and spontaneity to the song.

For the Stick version I transcribed the right hand of the piano on the melodic block and took over the whole bass on the bass block. The melody will be made by a voice (yours or a singer’s). The whole riff thus constructed is really not easy to set up but take patience, work slowly and decipher well how each hand coordinates with the other.

The verse A in A major turns on the same riff as the intro. Chorus B, in C major, unfolds a very jazzy grid: II / V / I / VI then another II / V to come back in A major. The right hand plays the chords in quarter notes and the left hand a kind of walking Bass in eighth notes which follows the joint movements of the harmonic progression. Another perfectly constructed bass line. Note bar 16 where I took the left hand of the piano which plays the octaves in eighth notes while the right hand plays the chords on the counter-time, very boogie-woogie.

Repeat of half a verse (4 bars) then instrumental part. During 4 measures both hands will play the same riff (as bass, guitar and sax on the original). But because of the fourth / fifth tuning obviously not with the same fingering. Then on the next 4 bars the right hand plays the vocal brass imitations in double notes while the left hand takes over the bass line of the chorus.

The rest of the song is a series of repetitions of the parts already described. The structure is quite complex.
I hope it will be clear enough on the score. Feel free to work the song on the original. The only problem, probably due to the bastringed piano (which was a Steinway anyway), is that the whole thing is not at 440Hz. So either you lower your Stick (which is not really practical with 12 strings) or you find a software or an application that allows you to edit the piece 20/25 cents of tone down.
Finally the song ends with a little coda that starts after a 2/4 bar (bar 41). Again note the surprising presence of a C minor in an A major piece.

That’s it. Don’t worry about the intro and the piano/bass verse part, which is really difficult to set up. Of all the pieces I’ve taken from the Beatles it’s one of the most complex parts both rhythmically and in terms of fingering. Don’t forget that there are two of them doing this and you’re on your own. Work slowly, maybe as a single note in the right hand at the beginning. But as with everything, with work and patience you can do anything.


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