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Exact Tuning for Ticket To Ride
28 October 2020
9.40am
jaja714
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I've always found it impossible to play along with Ticket To Ride , that is, until I stumbled onto the live versions (Anthology 2 , Live At The BBC ).  There are more live versions on YouTube (Blackpool, etc...) but all the live versions have one thing in common ... they are all tuned exactly to A proper @ 220Hz.

When listening to the standard studio mixed versions of Ticket To Ride (Help !, 1), it is impossible to play with them without modulating down about a third of a semi-tone ... somewhere around 216Hz.

I know it doesn't matter from a performance/covering perspective but, as a historian, I'm dying to know why/how this happened.  A few theories come to mind.

  • VOCAL RANGE - Typically, the key is lowered to make it easier to sing and this song has a coda 'My Baby Don't Care' which features a D5.  However, the live versions all prove that both John and Paul effortlessly hit that note as they double each other on the 'My Baby' part.
  • VOCAL STRAIN - Now, it is possible that the key was lowered when recording in the studio because hitting that D5 take after take might strain their voices but these guys were in their prime.  Heck, John probably relished the opportunity to put a little sandpaper on his vocals, right?
  • ARTISTIC - It is possible that, for artistic reasons, they all purposely tuned down their instruments but that would make the overdubs (especially Paul's guitar part after the bridge and during the coda) more difficult.  There were a lot of overdubs and, if they kept careful track of how much they tuned down, it is remotely possible.
  • ACCIDENTAL - There is some fuzziness as to the recording process as there are officially only two takes of the rhythm section.  Perhaps all the gymnastics used to reduce to that second take somehow accidentally slowed the tape down but, again, that would make the overdubs impossible because they'd have to use trial and error to know exactly how far to tune down.
  • LENGTH - It is well known at the time Ticket To Ride was recorded, that going over 3 minutes was a commercial airplay no-no.  If you look at the length of all the live versions, they all clock in comfortably under 3 minutes.  Only the studio mixed versions exceed the 3-minute limit. Perhaps The Beatles slowed the final mix down just to 'stick it to the suits' so to speak.

Does anyone have more theories?  Is there a proper topic I missed where this sort of discussion was already hashed out years ago?

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Beatlebug
28 October 2020
4.39pm
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Beatlebug
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Welcome to the forum, @jaja714! I've moved your post to the Recording and Musicology sub-forum, so hopefully it'll be more easily seen by someone who can answer your question.

I've long noticed that most of the Help ! album seems to be slightly flat, which is vexing to me to have to downtune to play along.

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jaja714

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28 October 2020
7.52pm
jaja714
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I've been on the forum before as jaja0714 but I somehow lost my user/pass so I had to create a new account jaja714!

28 October 2020
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Dark Overlord
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They likely tuned to each other as opposed to a tuner so their instruments were tuned down a quarter step on many songs, such as You're Going To Lose That Girl and Nowhere Man .

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28 October 2020
8.43pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
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Many of the Beatles' early songs were tuned flat, and as DO said:

They likely tuned to each other as opposed to a tuner so their instruments were tuned down a quarter step on many songs

Finding a song not tuned flat before, say, Rubber Soul /Revolver is actually quite hard.

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28 October 2020
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sir walter raleigh
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If you are listening digitally sometimes it converts at a slightly different speed than the tape was originally running, causing a mild modulation. its a common phenomenon 

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29 October 2020
12.26am
jaja714
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If that was the norm, isn't it odd that they would go to the trouble of tuning so precisely when performing live?  A live show is for a mere few thousand people to hear once.  A studio recording is for millions and millions of people to listen to hundreds and hundreds of times ... and many of them will be trying to play along with it!

29 October 2020
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Dark Overlord
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I'm not sure about the rest of their shows but i know they tuned down a half step for their 1st and 3rd Ed Sullivan performances.

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30 October 2020
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The Hole Got Fixed
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Also, the revenue from live performances was way higher than studio albums iirc, so it made sense to put lots of effort into them.
Also, not to say they were out of tune on the studio albums, if you're going to listen you'd never be able to tell the difference.

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30 October 2020
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The Beatles also often played their songs faster when live; I remember one (Paul?) saying that if they wanted the concert over quicker they would speed it up to the point they'd be done in 20 minutes.

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10 November 2020
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jaja714
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The Hole Got Fixed said
Also, the revenue from live performances was way higher than studio albums iirc, so it made sense to put lots of effort into them.

Also, not to say they were out of tune on the studio albums, if you're going to listen you'd never be able to tell the difference.

  

True but, when playing along, this one is very noticeable.

10 November 2020
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jaja714
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meanmistermustard said
The Beatles also often played their songs faster when live; I remember one (Paul?) saying that if they wanted the concert over quicker they would speed it up to the point they'd be done in 20 minutes.

  

I've always been amazed at how short their concerts were.  Was that the norm back then for top bands?

10 November 2020
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meanmistermustard
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jaja714 said

meanmistermustard said

The Beatles also often played their songs faster when live; I remember one (Paul?) saying that if they wanted the concert over quicker they would speed it up to the point they'd be done in 20 minutes.

  

I've always been amazed at how short their concerts were.  Was that the norm back then for top bands?

  

Pretty much I think. Play 10/11 tracks and then get off. When the Beatles were touring it was three or four acts before they came on to do their set but in '63 they were doing package tours and playing up to 6 songs so less than 15 minutes. It was generally two shows per night tho.

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