Chris, I realised that I hadn’t replied to the above post and the main reason for that, was that I hadn’t seen the Howard Goodall series you spoke of…much to my regret, I might add. But looking at this post again, I had the bright idea of looking on Youtube. And sure enough, all six parts of it were there. Obviously, I have always been aware of the classical music connections with Beatles music, but I just wasn’t able to talk about it intellectually. But that’s never been a problem, because The Beatles weren’t either. I remembered a famous quote from Lennon saying that Aeolian cadences sounded like exotic birds to him. I looked on the internet and found this information:
“In many ways the songs of the Beatles are exemplary for the musical innovations the British beat explosion wrought onto the domain of popular music in the sixties. With their music the British groups forged a highly original combination out of the erstwhile separate elements of other musical styles, which quickly evolved to become a full-blown style of its own: the music we nowadays know as pop or rock music. The Beatles stood at the front-lines of this artistic movement and their songs offer worthwhile material for those who want to know more about the musical characteristics of rock music. And, there's help for those who want to study these songs. Since 1989 everyone can look for assistance on the internet in the Notes on ... Series, written by the American musicologist Alan W. Pollack on each and every Beatles' song.
Chains of pan-diatonic clusters. Think yourself back to the city of London at the end of the year 1963 and meanwhile keep in mind that the virus of Beatlemania at that moment still was restricted to the British Isles and beat music was seen as music for adolescent boys and girls. Then and there only a few adults took the sound of the four Beatles seriously. Yet there were some who did and among them there was at least one real musicologist. If you had been there on the right day and you had bought the distinguished British paper The Times, out of the first hand you could have read an extensive musicological article devoted to the Beatles. This early assessment was full of praise for their musical accomplishments, but also phrased in a kind of learned musicological language that contrasted sharply with the self-concept of the rising youth culture. Read the next quote to know what the author heard in songs, most young people in those days just danced or sat down to listen to.
"Their noisy items are the ones that arouse teenagers' excitement. Glutinous crooning is generally out of fashion these days, and even a song about "Misery" sounds fundamentally quite cheerful; the slow, sad song about "That Boy", which figures prominently in Beatle programmes, is expressively unusual for its lugubrious music, but harmonically it is one of their most intriguing, with its chains of pan-diatonic clusters, and the sentiment is acceptable because voiced cleanly and crisply. But harmonic interest is typical of their quicker songs too, and one gets the impression that they think simultaneously of harmony and melody, so firmly are the major tonic sevenths and ninths built into their tunes, and the flat submediant key switches, so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of "Not a Second Time" (the chord progression which ends Mahler's "Song of the Earth")."
From our Music Critic. "Chains of pan-diatonic clusters", "major tonic sevenths and ninths" and "Aeolian cadences", all these qualifications seem to be far removed from the daily experiences and expressive motives of the buyers of the early Beatles' records. Though the article was regarded as a kind of official recognition of popular music, many people — including the Beatles themselves — made fun of it. John Lennon himself mockingly said, he thought Aeolian cadences to be some kind of "exotic birds". The piece was neutrally signed "From our Music Critic", but is commonly ascribed to William Mann, the regular music critic of the London paper at that time. But whoever wrote the commentary, he was not the last serious musicologist trying to get hold of the musical peculiarities of the Beatles' songs. As rock music was to become a major cultural force, others were to follow.”
This is the source of the above information:
As Yes fans, the final line in that piece “As rock music was to become a major cultural force, others were to follow.” is of profound importance. Listen carefully to The Beatles songs of 1965/6/7 and then the first Yes album, to see how vital The Beatles were, not only to Yes, but the whole progressive rock movement that was to follow. The Howard Goodall series is fascinating viewing for all and especially, Yes fans. Thanks to Chris for the heads up on this and for everyone else here, check the link to the first part and you'll find another five parts there.