The charged relationship between John and Paul will be translated into a classical work composed using a computer algorithm analysis of the Beatles duo’s lyrics. Dr Alexis Kirke, a composer at Plymouth University, devised a computer algorithm to chart the emotional development of the pair’s friendship for a composition marking the 60th anniversary of Lennon and McCartney’s first meeting. The data has been transformed into a piece representing their 23-year relationship as a classical duet, which will be premiered at the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival staged at Plymouth University.
Come Together: The Sonification of McCartney and Lennon attempts to chart the pair’s relationship, from the tight bond of the Beatles’ early years to the bitterness following the band’s 1970 split which led Lennon to write the bitter How Do You Sleep?, aimed at Paul.
Using a scientific database of “emotionally-annotated” words, Dr Kirke plotted the emotional positivity and physical intensity of the lyrics of 156 songs by McCartney and 131 songs by Lennon. This “word-based emotion” was mapped into musical features and transformed into a classical duet to show how “each musician’s happiness developed throughout their friendship.”
The piece begins with the onset of Beatlemania, referencing hit songs including I Feel Fine to highlight the carefree days of their early success. This is followed by the plummeting positivity of John during the band’s split in 1970 and the inclusion of lyrics from the incomplete song Borrowed Time to signify the lead up to his assassination in 1980. Paul’s lyrical happiness will be represented by the soprano line at the performance, sung by Rebecca Lea with Lennon’s diminishing happiness will be encapsulated in the lower pitch of the tenor, sung by Christopher Bowen.