The Beatles ("White Album")

The Beatles (aka the “White Album”) was a bold, unprecedented, and messy double album. While superficially the antithesis of 1967’s Sgt. Pepper extravagance, the album's stark white covers contained a veritable encyclopedia of songwriting style and structure and, like Pepper, a tour de force of studio production. Its November 22, 1968, release signified a new Beatles chapter: their first album on their new Apple label, the end of their psychedelic period, the introduction of both Yoko Ono and 8-track recording, and the increasingly adverse effects their growing businesses had on the band’s relationships and creative collaborative process. The stories of strife and unhappiness during the monthslong recording sessions have impacted the album’s reputation. But recent scholarship and the release of the 2018 deluxe box set have prompted a reassessment of both the album’s artistic brilliance and the many previously unknown moments of warmth and collaboration during its creation. This course will explore the making of The Beatles, including the band’s prolific pilgrimage to India, the remarkable Escher home demos, the intense recording process, resignations, and the initial triumph of Apple Records. As always, we will examine The Beatles work in its context amid an explosion of musical, cultural, and political influences. We will also discuss the studio process, equipment, techniques, and songwriting that are fundamental to illuminating this album’s excellence.

Joel Friedman
Composer; Music Scholar


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Online, instructor-led
Feb 14 - Mar 6, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies