Charting the Beatles

Ongoing study of Beatles through infographics, much of which is based on secondary sources such as sales statistics, biographies, recording session notes, sheet music, and raw audio readings.

Authorship and Collaboration
This graphic traces songwriting contributions by different band members (data based on authorial attributions quantified by William J. Dowlding in the book Beatlesongs).

Long and winding notes: Color patterns offer clues about the band's gradual fracturing as each member became more independent. Red stalks (signifying jointly written songs) decrease in the second half of the timeline; the split-color bars give way to solid bars of a single color. George Harrison also began to compose more music as he matured as a songwriter, shown by the increase in green bars (Lennon and McCartney's lack of support through Harrison's development is often cited as a factor contributing to the band's eventual breakup).

Self Reference
Beatles lyrics contain a number of references to their own previous songs. This diagram explores these connections, noting the exact referencing lyrics and at what point in each song they can be found.

Song Keys
The shape of each album's pictograph is defined by what keys the songs were recorded in for that album. The relative distribution of keys (with mid-song key changes considered) have been mapped over a graph framework based on the Circle of Fifths. The pictographs are in order of album recording.

Long and winding notes: The differences between each pictograph reflect the different relationships between songs within each album. For example, the pictograph for Abbey Road hints at the tonal architecture of the Abbey Road Medley, as the pictograph's shape has a more narrow pull towards A-major/minor and the home key of C-major.

Earlier pictographs gravitate towards the upper right, the keys where the standard pop/rock blues I-IV-V chord structure is easier to finger on a guitar. Later pictographs fan out as the band's use of song keys became more varied, and as more songs were composed on the piano.

The data are based on the song key appendix in Ian McDonald's book, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties.

Working Schedule, 1963-1966
This graphic (the "Tufte Gently Weeps" radial edition) compares the Beatles main activities from the years of 1963 to 1964. There are parallels in timing between each year, but the similarities between '64 and '65 are particularly notable.

"[1965] was a curious year for the Beatles, one in which they consolidated all the successes and excesses of 1964 by virtually repeating everything already achieved. They made a second feature-film, Help!, they toured North America...and Britain again...John even had a second book published."

-from Mark Lewisohn's book, The Complete Beatles Chronicle

A lot of awesome people have contributed pieces to the project's flickr group.

Pollen Magazine
Businessweek Meltdown Issue
Assorted Branding
Pinterest Logo
Crayon City
Beige Air
Billboard Charts Redesign
Feel Your Face, 1976
Football Charting System
Zoo York
Household Energy Calculator
Charting the Beatles (Newsweek edition)
Charting the Beatles
Kanye + Muppets