Within you without you- The Beatles


Key facts and unusual features

  • Longest song of the album.
  • Lyrics and music are by Geaorge Harrison

This piece has a number of unusual features:

  • Combination of indian and western timbres
  • Indian instruments used are: Sitar, Dilruba, Tambura, Swarmandal, Tabla
  • Western instruments used: Violins, Cellos
  • Some acoustic guitar
  • Written in mode rather than major or minor.
  • The meaning of the song reflects Indian/ Hindu philosophy
  • Comletely different to the rest of the Beatles songs.
  • Changing time signatures- Significant number of bars in 5/4
  • Tempo is described as tempo rubato- Without a strict beat.
  • Genre- Fusion of pop and indian music.
  • Written in Khamaj thaat (similar to our mixolydian mode)
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This was Harrisons second song in this Indian classical style. George visited India for six weeks in September 1966 and had sitar lessons to immerse himself in Eastern/ Hindu culture, philosophy and religion. At a party he was experimenting on a harmonium and came up with the line 'We were talking...' The harmonium's droning tone has similarities to Indian instruments so the tone of the song is said to be based on this instruments sonund. The piece is loosely based on a long 30-minute piece by Ravi Shankar who taught him sitar.The message of the song is the communication of truth. This is from Georges eastern experience where he realised that humans are 'really only very small', have 'grown so cold' and need to 'realise it's all within yourself'. He says that people can only find peace of mind when they learn to se beyond themselves. Also that life flows on within you and without you.

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