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Paul's drums on "Mother Nature's Son"
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6 March 2013
10.01pm
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Funny Paper
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Joe's notes about the song's recording says:

Onto take 24 McCartney overdubbed timpani, another acoustic guitar part, and drums - the latter set up in the corridor outside the studio, to give a staccato effect.

I don't understand how setting up drums in a corridor outside the studio would give the drums a "staccato effect".  Not even sure what a "staccato effect" is, in relation to drums.

The way I'd describe the drums would be with the words "immediate" and "deadened" -- also describes the timpani, where the usual booming reverberation of timpani has been, apparently, consciously muffled.

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6 March 2013
10.20pm
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Ron Nasty
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Staccato means to create a disconnected sound. All of the instruments would sound one way because of the acoustics of the studio, while something recorded in the corridor would sound different, or disconnected, by the different set of acoustics the corridor would give. Ken Scott, in The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: "Paul wanted an open effect on his drums [to give a bongos sound] and we ended up leaving the studio itself and putting the drums in the corridor, halfway down, with mikes at the far end. It wasn't carpeted then and it gave an interesting staccato effect."

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6 March 2013
10.26pm
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vonbontee
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I think "staccato" would be more properly applied to the playing of the drums, and the way the placement of them affected the sound of such playing, than the effect itself.

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6 March 2013
10.35pm
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Ron Nasty
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I believe the important detail is in Ken Scott's comment. It reveals that what they were looking to do was not to record the drums, because the drums were not miked but the opposite end of the corridor was, meaning that was being recorded was the sound of the drums bouncing around in what was, effectively, a "sound tunnel".

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7 March 2013
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mja6758 said
I believe the important detail is in Ken Scott's comment. It reveals that what they were looking to do was not to record the drums, because the drums were not miked but the opposite end of the corridor was, meaning that was being recorded was the sound of the drums bouncing around in what was, effectively, a "sound tunnel".

The description you report makes me think more of creating an echo effect -- the opposite of what one hears on the song, which sounds more like the drums were inside a cramped and padded closet or something.

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29 June 2014
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Ahhh Girl
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Interesting thread. I don't know about the technical aspects of this, but I just wanted a place to put this thought, and I found this thread.

The timpani in this song reached out and grabbed me yesterday evening. I've heard the song before, but not until yesterday did it blast its way into my attention this completely. *presses repeat to hear it again*

The other timpani sound I know of in a Beatles song is in Every Little Thing. When I am old and growing (even more) senile, the timpani in Every Little Thing will probably be the last Beatles sound to exit my memory. I love it so much.

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15 July 2014
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Oyster Black Pearl
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Ron Nasty said
 It reveals that what they were looking to do was not to record the drums, because the drums were not miked but the opposite end of the corridor was, meaning that was being recorded was the sound of the drums bouncing around in what was, effectively, a "sound tunnel".

It's quite possible they used 2 microphones - one around 3/4 foot away from the drum, and another as mentioned some distance away down the corridor. That's how I'd record it and how it sounds to me, otherwise you'd lose the 'bottom end' or depth of the drum's sound. Simon & Garfunkel achieved a similar effect on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' by miking-up a snare next to an open lift (elevator) shaft.

The timpani in 'Every Little Thing' - an important milestone in their recording development, the first use of an 'orchestral' / 'classical' instrument in their music?

15 July 2014
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Ron Nasty
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@Oyster Black Pearl said
The timpani in 'Every Little Thing' – an important milestone in their recording development, the first use of an 'orchestral' / 'classical' instrument in their music?

No, the use of "orchestral"/"classical" instruments in their music began with the Please Please Me with George Martin's overdubs of a piano on Misery (it may be easy to dismiss the piano, as it featured in so many forms of music, but it first made its impact in classical music), and - less arguable - the overdub of a celesta aka a celeste (a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard) onto Baby It's You.

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15 July 2014
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vonbontee
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Also they used classical guitar in "'Til There Was You" and "And I Love Her".

Paul used the same kind of one-beat staccato drum in "Hey Diddle", from the "Ram" sessions, which I was listening to on the weekend. I don't think it was a tympani though, probably just a bass drum.

I remember George saying 'Blimey, he's always talking about “Yesterday”, you'd think he was Beethoven or somebody' - Paul McCartney

15 July 2014
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John played the harp on 'I Got To Find My Baby', he says so here.a-hard-days-night-john-7

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15 July 2014
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Von Bontee
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That really annoys me, the practice of calling a harmonica a "harp"

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15 July 2014
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Von Bontee said
That really annoys me, the practice of calling a harmonica a "harp"

Harpmonica?

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15 July 2014
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Oyster Black Pearl
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Ron Nasty said

@Oyster Black Pearl said
The timpani in 'Every Little Thing' – an important milestone in their recording development, the first use of an 'orchestral' / 'classical' instrument in their music?

No, the use of "orchestral"/"classical" instruments in their music began with the Please Please Me with George Martin's overdubs of a piano on Misery (it may be easy to dismiss the piano, as it featured in so many forms of music, but it first made its impact in classical music), and - less arguable - the overdub of a celesta aka a celeste (a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard) onto Baby It's You.

Ok, I'll give you the celeste, I'd forgotten that one, but piano (and acoustic guitar) were pretty much in the 'pop' domain, and you would have been hard pushed to find a timpani in the repertoire of acts of the day. Cue a massive list....... 😉 

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