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Mersey Beat

This lesson applies to what was known as the Merseybeat.

The Mersey Beat was a music publication in Liverpool, England in the early 1960s. It was founded by Bill Harry, who was one of John Lennon's classmates at Liverpool Art College. Merseybeat is synonymous with what was called the “British Invasion” back in the sixties by rock and roll bands from England that came to the United States and the rhythms (beats) that the drummers played.

The River Mersey flows through Liverpool, England where the Beatles grew up. In the early 1960s “Beat music” was a pop music genre that developed in the England. Areas where the bands were from would often be captured by the beat name such as "Merseybeat" (for bands from Liverpool) or "Brumbeat" (for bands from Birmingham).

This is what is called a “bread & butter” beat because it is used in so many songs even to this date. It is also called a “bread & butter” beat because of the prominent back beat played on beats 2 and 4 which makes it very easy to dance to.

Listen to some early Beatles songs and you can’t miss the application of the Merseybeat (Meet the Beatles, Hard Days Night).

Some of the bands that use this beat today:

  • Foo Fighters – Everlong
  • The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes
  • Linkin Park – What Have I Done


Note that the high hat plays a steady eighth note pattern. The snare drum is on 2 and 4 and the bass drum plays on 1 and the “&” of 2 and on 3.


 

This next beat has slight variation. As before the high hat plays a steady eighth note pattern and the snare drum is on 2 and 4. the variation is in the bass drum which now plays on 1, the “&” of 2 and on 3 and on the “&” of 4.


Master this beat and you will have plenty to eat (because it’s bread & butter!).

 
 

© Copyright 2009 - 2011 by Mark Pryor