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Joe
Pepperland
4518 Posts
(Offline)
1
19 March 2010 - 10.00am

Here's something I never knew before. It's from a short interview with Ken Scott, one of The Beatles' former sound engineers.

http://www2.gibson.com/News-Li.....-0318.aspx

Learn from your mistakes! Today, it’s all cut and paste, on the grid, mistakes aren’t allowed. With The Beatles, mistakes would happen and they became a vital part of the recordings. Making decisions — that’s why so many acts have a hit album and it takes them two years until their next album. We did an album every six months, on tape, cutting it with the razor blade. I miss that so much! I used to drive musicians mad because I would cavalierly go ahead and do it. They’d see me cutting and say, “What is he doing?!” Again, that’s part of making mistakes, but you can always put it back together again. There’s a classic passage in one of the “Revolution”s, an extra beat in there that was an editing accident. The engineer cut one beat too early, but John heard it and loved it and it was kept. That would never happen these days.

The bit he's talking about is from Revolution 1, and takes place at 3'24, shortly after the final "Don't you know it's gonna be all right" line. The Beatles play BAM BAM BAM, and it's goes into the final passage.

I never really thought about it before, but those extra beats were added in the editing stage. The 11-minute rough mix doesn't have them – you can hear the section at 3'51 (slightly later than the finished song due to the preamble at the start).

Now I'm wondering why an edit was made anyway. Since the rough mix and the final version are largely similar in terms of structure (ie they weren't cutting anything out in the final version) why make an edit there in the first place? I guess it was just an experimental test edit that went wrong.

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McLerristarr
A Place
253 Posts
(Offline)
2
19 March 2010 - 11.15am

I would never have picked it for a mistake. That's really interesting. I've never understood how they managed to edit tape so accurately and not have choppy edits all over the place. I'm currently studying to be an audio engineer but I guess I'll never have the pleasure to work with tape. If I ever do continue my study into a profession, I refuse to add naff digital effects and computerise everyone's voice. I much preferred the old simply way of doing things that wasn't actually that simple. They had to experiment with tape to get the right effects, not just click a button on a computer programme. Thanks for sharing that, Joe.

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Joe
Pepperland
4518 Posts
(Offline)
3
19 March 2010 - 12.56pm

I used to do a bit of reel-to-reel editing when I was younger. It's not so hard to do – you rotate the tape heads manually, slowly, so you know exactly where you want to make the cut, mark it on the tape (I used a white chinagraph pencil), and repeat the process for when you want the edit to end. Then unspool the tape a little so it's on a flat surface, take a razor blade to the two marks, then splice them together with tape, reel up the tape again and play it back. It's quite fun getting an edit just right.

If you're interested the machines probably aren't too expensive these days, and it's quite fun to play around with, though it's nothing you can't do more easily on a computer.

I presume in the case of Revolution 1, they added a third beat on purpose after the dodgy edit was made. BAM BAM would have sounded a bit wrong IMO.

Incidentally, I think there was only once instance where they directly edited the multitrack tapes – that was on Yer Blues, when the coda/fade out begins. Normally they only did it at the remix stage. There may have been subsequent times, but that was definitely the first.

Don't write off new technology though! The Beatles would have been the first to use it had it been around. Imagine what it would have been like if they'd been able to trigger samples and perform live versions of Tomorrow Never Knows… As for computerising vocals, well autotune may be old-hat now, but experimenting with new digital sounds is only a continuation of analogue experimentation in the 1960s (eg using Leslie speakers from Hammond organs). If it sounds bad it's often the fault of the person who chose it, rather than the effect itself.

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McLerristarr
A Place
253 Posts
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4
21 March 2010 - 2.18am

Joe said:

Don't write off new technology though! The Beatles would have been the first to use it had it been around. Imagine what it would have been like if they'd been able to trigger samples and perform live versions of Tomorrow Never Knows… As for computerising vocals, well autotune may be old-hat now, but experimenting with new digital sounds is only a continuation of analogue experimentation in the 1960s (eg using Leslie speakers from Hammond organs). If it sounds bad it's often the fault of the person who chose it, rather than the effect itself.


 

Computerised vocals sound all right in certain types of music, like psychedelic, but what I hate is when an artist only ever has computerised vocals, probably because they can't actually sing (i.e. Fergie from the Black Eyed Pees). But I agree, The Beatles definitely would have experimented with technology, but they wouldn't have used it all the time. The solo Beatles don't/didn't seem to use effects much, perhaps because of the back to basics movement of the late 60s, which kind of stuck with them.

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Chollie
in my tree
30 Posts
(Offline)
5
18 April 2010 - 11.02pm

With the technology of today, The Martins, father and son , did a heckova job on LOVE, I think. Possibly a little insight on what the fabs might have done with it themselves.

A restless wind inside a letterbox

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Joe
Pepperland
4518 Posts
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6
19 April 2010 - 2.45pm

I read a quote from George Martin around the time of Love's release, where he spoke of his amazement at how easy it was to digitally manipulate and edit audio using Pro Tools. He couldn't believe it could all be done so simply.

I'm sure if the technology had been around in the 1960s the music would have been quite different. The celebrated edit of two version of Strawberry Fields Forever, for example, could have been done far more easily in Pro Tools than by varispeeding two recordings in different keys and tempos to make them work together. Whether the recordings would have been so creative if it had been easier to do so, though, is another matter. Certainly I hear a lot more experimentation in some 1960s music than in a lot of stuff put out today.

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iCaramba
7
19 April 2010 - 8.19pm

Joe said:

Whether the recordings would have been so creative if it had been easier to do so, though, is another matter. Certainly I hear a lot more experimentation in some 1960s music than in a lot of stuff put out today.


 

Got to agree with you there. There's just something about actual problem solving that sparks creativity. Back in the '60s, they had to think, "Right, I want it to sound like X... so, what can I use to create that sound? Hmmm..." NOW, anybody with a decent ear for music can manipulate sounds on a computer keyboard.

rcsnydley
8
6 May 2010 - 9.39pm

I'm afraid I'll have to agree.  Because they were pushing the envelope they had to be always thinking outside the box as they say.  Now it's all done for you and I wonder if that doesn't make us lazy sometimes.

I will say that the technology has opened up the recording process to a lot more people, so those of us who like to participate as a hobby now have the opportunity.

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c64wood
249 Posts
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9
21 May 2010 - 5.17pm

McLerristarr said:

The Beatles definitely would have experimented with technology, but they wouldn't have used it all the time.


 

Yes, you can see that with Abbey Road.  Some groups would have and did overuse the synthesizer in the late 60's early 70's.  The Beatles used it to enhance a few songs, not to dominate them.

 

I know you know what you know, but you should know by now that you're not me ~ Ron Nasty

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c64wood
249 Posts
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10
12 July 2010 - 8.06pm

I would have been cool to have that in the mix for the single version.

I know you know what you know, but you should know by now that you're not me ~ Ron Nasty

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ewe2
Inside the beat
1608 Posts
(Offline)
11
2 December 2015 - 8.18am

I didn't know that about the edit in Revolution 1, I did know about Yer Blues... I think the value of limitations on what you can do is making you think ahead about the process and in ways you simply wouldn't if you had an easier path. Even now with technology you can plug in, sometimes you get more interesting results by getting different machines to talk to each other and getting what each does best instead of an all-in-one interface that can do everything. I don't think many bands could survive the sheer number of takes this particular song took (and the length of them!), but the Beatles wanted it that way, because they'd tried other approaches and a good take of this would do most of the work needed on it, and they were prepared to get it. Sometimes just recording the band as they are is all the song needs. Sometimes it's much harder or weirder to get there!

I'm like Necko only I'm a bassist ukulele synthesizer penguin and also everyone. Or is everyone me? Now I'm a confused bassist ukulele synthesizer penguin everyone who is definitely not @Joe.

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