Analysis of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles

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In this paper, the piece of music I will be analyzing in depth is titled ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles. My parents, who were born prior to the release of this song, are responsible for introducing me to this 60’s rock-pop piece and many other musical compositions produced by the band. They adore the Beatles and would constantly play their music in our home when my mom was cooking. Now when I listen to the song, the feeling that resurfaces is a sense of happiness and high spirits. I attribute this to the fact that every time I listened to it, I was in a family setting and everyone was happy and dancing. However, I believe that there are other factors that come into play and contribute to this emotional shift I experience when I hear the song. In this paper, I will further discuss the factors that contribute to this state of joyfulness and cheerfulness through certain musical elements; the rhythm, lyrical features, and melody. Additionally, I will explore how modernity and global emplacement have played a role and allowed for a global, widespread success.

Firstly, we will explore the musical components that emulate and prompt a feeling of overall pleasure, contentment and a sense of unity amongst communities. It is difficult to detect unless one plays very close attention, but two members of the group are singing, not just one, precisely John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They are in perfect harmony and in sync throughout the entire song, which I believe to be a contributing factor to the unifying feeling I perceive when I listen to the song. This emulating feeling is also stemming from the clapping in the song, a continuous act done by all four members of the group which is an element that expels uplifting energy. The melody remains the same throughout the song and is supported by the two guitars, a drum set, a bass line and voices. The simplicity in its harmony, upbeat rhythm and fast tempo are elements that reflect a sensation of ease and allows for one to follow along easily while feeling happy, light and cheerful. All these musical components that are embedded within the song are characteristics that lend a specific purpose and emit a certain atmospheric energy. This result can be further supported through Halliday’s interpretation of sonic modernity. Halliday does not see sound as solely just sound but rather as the embodiment of many other components such as modern culture, and technological advances (which will be explored below). There are many outside influences that shape music and our constantly changing and ever-growing society is reflected and seen through music. If sound were just sound, I, and many others would not experience an emotional shift, nor would the British band have reached the United States and have been such a success. Sounds tell a story and reflect history, cultures, societal structures, amongst many other components which will be explored in the rest of the paper.

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One may wonder how a British band that debuted in the early 1960’s was able to reach an international scale and appeal to many different cultures. We attribute the development globalization to the era of the 1990’s, however the technological advancements that were available in the 1960’s allowed for this song to be heard by millions of people. Its global expansion, notably the United States, was achieved due to these technological innovations. Their performance of this very song on The Ed Sullivan show, a sensational show that welcomed and hosted some of the most musically influential people in history, allowed for a drastic expansion in their audience demographic. While these technological innovations permitted for the spreading of their music, there is another element to further note. Chase’s discussion behind the idea of cultural open-mindedness can be supported through the receptiveness of the Beatles’ music by the citizens of the US. Technological advances do not guarantee acceptance and receptiveness to other musical genres different to one’s cultural musical norm. For instance, the people of the United States were responsive and acceptive of the Beatles music. However, many other bands, singers, and musicians from other cultures outside of the United States had failed to enter and influence the United States. In order for the Beatles to have had such a large impact there is an element of cultural open mindedness that must have been present. I believe the Beatles are exemplary to Einsenstadt’s interpretation as the Beatles did not conform to the ideals of the United States. Globalization allowed for their entry into the United States but they also represented something different and unique. They allowed for others to be open to interpret the world in their own way and use music as a means to express themselves and not allow a predetermined set of ideals influence their true self. This led to the development of multiple communities that all interpreted modernity at a different pace and in their own terms which flourished and revolutionized the music industry thereafter.

In order to determine how the Beatles made such an impact on the United States, it is crucial to look at the time period through a historical and cultural lens. They became tremendously popular around the time that the president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. This historic event caused great surprise, anger, and sadness among the citizens of the United States. The band altered their moods and provided light in these darkened days. When the Beatles performed, you could see all of the band members genuinely having so much fun doing so and this energy was contagious, and resulted in a shift in the citizens’ mood. When we look at the music circulating in the United States, we can see the Beatles were so distinct from the typical musical figures in the US; they composed and played their own music which was a rarity at the time. The Beatles also challenged the physical appearance standard present at the time as artists always looked professional and pristine whereas the Beatles had a distinct look with their hair and clothing. People in the United States appreciated their openness and realness as they were not acting in an expected manner and abiding by the predetermined set of expectations that society had set forth, they acted in an organic way that was true to themselves and because of this, the citizens of the US were able to relate to them. They influenced music by challenging the synonymous music of the time and provided creativity in creating songs and new ideas that people could identify with and relate to. In a sense, they defied against social constraints and pursued independence from these constructs. I believe they encouraged people to act in a way that was true to themselves and not hide under these set social constructs.

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Analysis of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Analysis of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023,
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