The sixties was a decade of innovation which effected a lot of areas of interest.
Technologically, various new technologies were invented and many previous technologies became cheaper and more affordable during the 1960s.
These technological advances, primarily related to computers and associated computer technology, were responsible for the collective progress of the entire world.
Among the new inventions were dynamic random access memory (DRAM), computer mouse, audio cassette and compact disk.
In this book, I will go through some new technologies/techniques of the sixties the Beatles used in their recordings, which influenced the way popular music was recorded.
Some of the effects they employed were sampling, artificial double tracking (ADT) and backwards recording.
In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording.
This technique is widely used in today’s pop music, along with other music genres.
The Beatles first used samples of other music on “Yellow Submarine“, the samples being added on 1 June 1966.
The sampled part starts at 01:07
Geoffrey Emerick the Beatles’ sound engineer explained:
“George… told me to record the section on a clean piece of two-track tape and then chop it into pieces, toss the pieces into the air, and splice them back together… That’s why the solo is so brief, and that’s why it sounds almost musical, but not quite. At least it’s unrecognizable enough that EMI was never sued by the original copyright holder of the song.”
According to the Ian MacDonald’s book “Revolution In The Head,” the recording was most likely a 78rpm record of “Le Reve Passé,” a composition by Georges Krier and Charles Helmer from 1906.
Artificial double tracking
Artificial double-tracking (ADT) uses tape delay to create a delayed copy of an audio signal which is then combined with the original. The effect is intended to simulate the sound of the natural doubling of voices or instruments achieved by double tracking.
ADT was invented by Ken Townsend in 1966, during the recording of Revolver. His story presented in the following video:
ADT can be heard on the vocals on “Eleanor Rigby” for example.
And here is a nice example where the ADT can be heard clearly
Another key innovation was the use of backwards recording. This had actually been first used in the song ‘Rain’. The backwards vocals which ended Rain were recorded on 14 April 1966.
“Revolver very rapidly became the album where the Beatles would say ‘OK, that sounds great, now let’s play it backwards or speeded up or slowed down’. They tried everything backwards, just to see what things sounded like.” – said Geoff Emerick.
An example of the use of backwards recording can be heard on ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ ,where the Beatles used it on the lead guitar.
With that innovation came the stupid conspiracy theory..
The Beatles, their producer and their recording engineers were creative and innovating group of people.
They constantly played with music, thought out of the box and searched for the best way to tell the story behind their songs.
This practice made them come up with some techniques and innovating technologies that are still being used until today.
Published: May 5, 2022
Latest Revision: May 5, 2022
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