Recording, mixing: Flying

7.00pm, Friday 8 September 1967 (46 years ago)

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

One of The Beatles’ requirements for the Magical Mystery Tour project was the creation of enough music for the soundtrack. In addition to the songs, they also worked on several pieces of incidental music. One of these was Flying, which was recorded on this day under the working title Aerial Tour Instrumental.

Flying had the distinction of being the first Beatles instrumental – wordless chanting aside – to be released, although they had recorded the unreleased Cry For A Shadow and 12-Bar Original. It was also the first to be given a composing credit to all four Beatles.

The group recorded six takes of Flying. The session was led by Paul McCartney, and featured him on bass guitar, John Lennon on organ, George Harrison on guitar and Ringo Starr on drums. Three organ overdubs were then added – recorded with the tape running backwards – onto the three remaining tracks.

Two reduction mixes were made to free up two extra tracks on the tape, the best of which was numbered take eight. Lennon then overdubbed the melody on a Mellotron set to the trumpet setting, before all four Beatles added chants.

Flying was given four mono mixes at the end of the session, which ran until 2.45am. The last of these mixes was selected as the best, and was cut onto acetate discs for use in the film production. Interesting, the mix contains elements later removed, including slide whistle, Mellotron flutes, and the sound of a Dixieland band playing a march – one of the built-in Mellotron tapes. This early version of Flying ended with a sampled “yeah” spoken by Bill Fransen, one of the creators of the Mellotron.

New mono mixes of Flying were made on 28 September 1967, along with more last-minute overdubs and edits.

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