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Drummer Ringo Starr did not compose many songs for the Beatles but customarily sang one song on each album

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Composers and Instrumentalists

Most fans know Paul played bass guitar, John rhythm guitar, George lead guitar and Ringo drums. But all the Beatles had some proficiency on the piano and each used it to compose songs, which contributed to the exceptional breadth of the Beatles music catalogue.

Paul learned to play piano as a young boy but never learned to read music. Although he is known primarily as a bass guitar player, Paul experimented with many instruments, including Moog and Mellotron synthesizers. His mastery of the piano as a compositional instrument is said to have empowered him as a composer (perhaps something only fellow pianists can begin to appreciate). George Martin and John Lennon commented that Paul was the most technically proficient musician in the band. He played piano on many Beatles' tracks including "Hey Jude", "The Fool on the Hill", "The Long and Winding Road" and "Let It Be". He played drums on "The Ballad of John and Yoko", "Back in the USSR" and "Dear Prudence" (as well as bass guitar, piano and flugelhorn). "Michelle" was possibly performed entirely by Paul. He is also skilled on guitar, contributing guitar solos to, among other tracks "Taxman", "Back in the USSR" and "The End".

Given his widely acknowledged expertise and inventiveness as a songwriter, John was less proficient playing rhythmic instruments such as drums or bass. For example, during the song "Another Girl" in the movie Help! he appears to play the drums uneasily and out of rhythm (the Beatles all switch their instruments during this clip). John played piano on "I Am The Walrus" and bass on "Back in the USSR", "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" in which, if one listens closely, a few technical mistakes can be heard (these were fixed decades later on McCartney's stripped down, "un-Spectored" version Let it Be... Naked). The other Beatles admitted to teasing John about his timekeeping. When the remaining Beatles reunited in the mid 90s to record some of John's unreleased demo tracks, producer Jeff Lynne used studio technology to compensate for John's flexible sense of tempo (ironically, since his wonted instrumental role in the Beatles is usually characterized as rhythm guitar).

George was known for excelling when playing melodic lines, riffs and fills on guitar-like string instruments ('One of the greats', in McCartney's words). In addition to lead guitar and sitar, George played tambura on "Across The Universe", bass guitar on "Birthday", synthesiser on "Octopus's Garden", and Hammond organ on "Blue Jay Way". His usual allotment (or limit) of one or two compositions per album, however, is said to have contributed to the tensions surrounding the band's breakup.

Although Ringo reportedly admits his musical knowledge beyond percussion is limited, he composed some songs on piano, including "Don't Pass Me By" (he plays electric piano on this recording) and "Octopus's Garden". Ringo claimed to have contributed the famous line "Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave" to "Eleanor Rigby", which was ostensibly written by McCartney. A line confirmed as his is, "Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there." Ringo was also responsible for a number of song titles, inspired by his malapropisms of homespun Liverpudlian sayings. Some notables include "A Hard Day's Night", "Eight Days a Week" and "Tomorrow Never Knows". Critical appreciation of his steady, supportive drumming has increased through the decades. He is said to have recorded the drums on many Beatles' recordings in a single take.

Their producer George Martin influenced many songs, performed on several and composed a few fragments. "Hello, Goodbye" is said to have developed from an improvised piano duet by McCartney and Martin. The orchestra parts heard in some Beatles recordings were mostly composed or arranged by Martin.

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