Recording: A Beginning, Good Night

Studio One, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

This session took place in Abbey Road’s largest studio, where an orchestra and choir were recorded for two White Album songs.

The first piece was an introductory piece for ‘Don’t Pass Me By’. Released on Anthology 3 as ‘A Beginning’, the piece had already featured in the Yellow Submarine animated film, which had had its world première five days previously on 17 July 1968.

George Martin evidently thought the piece would work as a suitable introduction to ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, and his score was recorded in four takes. Twelve violins, three violas, three cellos, three flutes, and harp, clarinet, horn, vibraphone and string bass were all used.

The Beatles (White Album) label, side 4

The same musicians then performed the score for ‘Good Night’. The Beatles’ previous attempts at recording the song were discarded, and the orchestra recorded their parts in 12 attempts. These takes were numbered 23-34, the last of which was marked ‘best’.

The flutes, violins, violas, horn and clarinet were recorded onto one track, with cellos and string bass on another. The vocals in the chorus, plus harp and extra flutes were overdubbed onto track three, and Ringo Starr’s vocals plus backing were added to the fourth.

The extra vocals were by the Mike Sammes Singers, who numbered four men and four women. The track three overdub was recorded between 10.30-11.50pm, and track four was taped between 11.50pm and 1.40am.

Last updated: 1 July 2022
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  1. Justin Sunday 27 September 2020

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