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Lennon or McCartney? How to work out who wrote what

By Oliver Buckley, news reporter
The use of statistical analysis could finally reveal the answer to an age old question: Lennon or McCartney?
With the majority of the Beatles' back catalogue it is quite easy to say whether it was written by John Lennon or Paul McCartney.But it isn't always that straightforward as there is still some mystery around who wrote some of their best-loved songs.For example, Lennon and McCartney famously disagreed over how much input each had into the song In My Life from the album Rubber Soul, which ranked as the 23rd greatest song of all time on a list by Rolling Stone.Now, with the help of stylometry - the use of statistics to determine authorship - two academics are able to finally reveal who wrote what.Researchers Mark Glickman and Jason Brown broke down each Beatles song from 1962 to 1966 in "representations".Each of these representations highlight how often a set of a musical features appear within a song, essentially creating a signature for each song.
Lennon or McCartney? How to work out who wrote what

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McCartney at the now-famous Abbey Road crossing
The pair's approach uses several different representations of a particular song to help to identify its author.
These include the chords used, the melodic notes sung by the lead singer, the frequency of chord transitions, the frequency of consecutive melodic note pairs and four-note "contours".A contour is a four-note sequence that is a series of "ups", "downs" or "stays the same" - if a contour was made up of four notes of increasing pitch it would be "up, up, up".These features can serve as a musical signature and allow them to determine who might have written which song.This is particularly useful for Lennon and McCartney, who are renowned for their individual styles.
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For instance, Lennon is known to have written melodic lines that, typically, did not vary much.The study showed that there was an 18% chance that In My Life was written by McCartney and an 82% chance of it being written by Lennon, whereas The Word - long thought to be a Lennon song - was almost certainly written by McCartney.
news.sky.com
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