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Wall of Sound in I Want You
18 June 2014
11.18pm
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Mr. Kite
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How did John and George create, what this article calls, 'a droning swirl of guitars' at the end of I Want You (She's So Heavy)? Reading that article revealed that a white noise generator was used, and that's what's creating the tension and engulfing the music during the last few minutes of the song. But how did the two guitarists layer the guitars? Just playing it multiple times over itself? What exactly were they using the Moog to create? What else was done in this wall of sound?

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19 June 2014
3.28am
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vonbontee
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Not sure if the moog itself generated the white noise, or if they just used its filters to alter it. Other than that, I'd just assume they just recorded the guitar parts over and over, since they had a full eight tracks to work with...and no doubt some bouncing down was involved too. I wish Geoff Emerick or Alan Parsons or whoever could provide more details! Don't they know how crucial this info is?!

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19 June 2014
3.37am
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Mr. Kite
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vonbontee said

Not sure if the moog itself generated the white noise, or if they just used its filters to alter it. Other than that, I'd just assume they just recorded the guitar parts over and over, since they had a full eight tracks to work with...and no doubt some bouncing down was involved too. I wish Geoff Emerick or Alan Parsons or whoever could provide more details! Don't they know how crucial this info is?!

It'd be great of they were on here!

But according to the article (don't know their source though) the white noise was from a machine made just to do that. So I don't know what the Moog was used for.

And the guitar sounds too uniform! I know they were the Beatles, but if they just recorded on top of the guitar over and over it would have to sound a little different at some parts. Maybe artificial double-tracking was used? Or they bounced down the first track and then bounced those two down together doubling the same thing? Although that probably would've just made it a bit louder... I don't know any ideas?

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24 June 2014
12.13pm
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Joe
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Slight diversion: Phil Spector created his Wall of Sound by assembling dozens of musicians in the studio. He'd get several bassists, drummers, guitarists and so on, all playing at once, often smothered in echo too.

IWY(SSH) wasn't done in the same way; as you say, it was multitracked over many months and sessions, though the massed guitars seem to have been added on one day. Here's the entry for 18 April 1969 from Mark Lewisohn's Complete Recording Sessions book:

George Harrison , John Lennon , Chris Tomas, Jeff Jarratt and John Kurlander then went into studio two to work on I Want You: overdubbing multi-tracked Lennon/Harrison guitars for the song's momentous finale onto the 23 February Trident master; then creating a reduction mixdown (called take one) of that master and then overdubbing yet more guitar parts onto that take one; finishing off with a rough stereo remix of the song's latest incarnation. "John and George went into the far left-hand corner of number two to overdub those guitars," recalls Jeff Jarratt. "They wanted a massive sound so they kept tracking and tracking, over and over."

To bulk up the sound they could have used ADT, plus different guitars, changing EQ etc. I'd have thought they'd have used some variation otherwise it would have given a horrible chorus effect, but I don't know. It's hard to pick out individual instruments so I suspect they just used two guitars but varied the tone.

As for the white noise, Lewisohn says:

John had used the Moog in conjunction with a white noise generator to produce a swirling, gale-force wind effect for the first three minutes of the song.

The Moog was a modular synth. I won't try to explain it because I'd just get in a muddle, so here's Wikipedia:

The Moog modular system consists of a number of various modules mounted in a cabinet. Each module performs a specific signal-generating or -modifying function. These modules offered unprecedented control over creating sounds by allowing a user to modify primary sound waveforms (sine waves, square waves and other waveforms provided by voltage controlled oscillators or VCO) with amplitude modulators (voltage controlled amplifiers or VCA) and spectral modulators (voltage controlled filters (VCF) or fixed filter banks) and other modifiers. Envelope generators provided further control by modulating the attack, decay, sustain and release (ADSR) parameters of the VCAs, VCFs and other modules. The modules are patched together with patch cords with ¼i-inch mono plugs. The patch cords and module parameter knobs could be adjusted in countless ways to create a nearly infinite number of sounds. The final sound was heard ('triggered') from the system by pressing a key on an attached keyboard or pressing on the ribbon controller.

According to Wikipedia, the 903 module was used to create white noise on the early Moogs. I assume George Harrison 's Moog had one of those. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....er#Modules

Fun fact: the white noise was added on the afternoon of 8 August, after the Abbey Road cover photograph was taken. Ringo also added more drums during the same session.

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24 June 2014
12.53pm
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Joe
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Here's the isolated guitar track. The wall of sound begins at 4.43.

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28 June 2014
12.56am
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Mr. Kite
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Thanks a lot, @Joe! A little after I started this topic I consulted the Complete Sessions. But I'm trying to see if anyone knows how they did it exactly, if you understand what I'm saying. Because I get what they used to create it now, but not how.

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11 August 2014
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paulramon1962
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The Moog was used as the white noise generator. They come equipped with them, or at least they did back then a-hard-days-night-john-6

The main song has George and John playing the main 'riff, so to speak. When the end comes in, they added overdubbed guitars (Two if I recall correctly) tuned to drop D so they could emulate what Paul was doing on the bass. They also slowly turned the organ up, which when distorted can fill in space nicely. That plus the slow ascension of the white noise which really gave the effect of it being a wall of sound. In reality, the white noise was filling up all the frequencies not being occupied by the guitar, bass, drums and organ. 

Hope that helps!

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11 April 2017
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Dark Overlord
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It's pretty simple when you think about it. First of all, I Want You (She's So Heavy) is comprised of 3 different takes edited together to give the illusion of a full song like they did with This Boy and Strawberry Fields Forever , but that's beyond the point, you want to know about the final part of the song. I think it's safe to assume that John at least triple tracked his arpeggio rhythm guitar while George at least triple tracked his drop D lead guitar riff and it's also possible that Paul contributed guitar to this part of the song, maybe both George and Paul did the drop D part and John played the rhythm. It's also possible that they swapped around guitars, so maybe George played the part once with his Les Paul, then did it with his Tele, then did it with his Strat, and then did it with his SG and then Paul played the part on his Casino and then on his Esquire then John played the rhythm on his Casino and then played it again on his Strat and then again on his J-160E plugged in.

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