Classic Chords #6 – The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

Perhaps the chord that is the most distinctive and yet the most difficult to pin down as a solo player is the opening thrash of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”. Everybody who picks up a guitar tries to get that chord, whether classical player, rock guitarist, 12-string player, whatever. Now, I figured it was some kind of Gm11 but with something extra going on. Or perhaps an F/G but with an extra note here or there. First off, I think George Harrison is on record as saying that he was indeed playing an F/G on a 12-string, but McCartney was playing a D note on the bass. But, that still doesn’t sound right.


Now, it was guitarist Randy “You ain’t seen nothing yet” Bachman who dug out the details having had an invitation to Abbey Road Studios from Giles Martin (Beatles’ producer George’s son) who had all The Beatles’ masters on his computer in Pro Tools and asked Bachman what he wanted to hear… “A Hard Day’s Night”, obviously. So, track-by-track they listened, there’s that F/G on the 12-string from Harrison but with a G on the high E-string and a C on the A string, which makes it an Fsus2 in fact, and there’s that D note on the bass guitar from McCartney, but…and here’s the key to getting the sound, John Lennon was playing a Dsus4. That’s some mixed harmony and you could say it kickstarted rock!

“A Hard Day’s Night” was already in the queue for Classic Chords, but thanks to Sciencebase reader Darren Michaloski for bringing the Bachman video to my attention and so allowing me to fill in the Dsus4. I’ve had a go at rendering it but Bachman’s band do it so much better. Bottom line is that overall it’s basically Dm11, but you could call it F 6/9 or a G9sus4…

More Classic Chords here, including a “G aug” from The Beatles’ “Blackbird“.