Guide Help!: Songwriting, Recording and Career Tips Used by the Beatles (Revised & Expanded Edition)

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By the end of that day, Please Please Me - the album that would officially launch British Beatlemania - was ready for release. Beginning at 10 a. It mattered little that Lennon was nursing a bad cold and spent the day downing throat lozenges in order to keep up the pace. Opened in , EMI housed three separate recording rooms, each with high ceilings and ample floor space typical of the era. And a tape delay was used on the chamber quite often, which really enhanced the quality. In short, the Beatles sound like a band on a mission.


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While in later years the band would take months to complete recording projects, the spontaneity of that first marathon session speaks for itself. Rather than attempting one song, and cutting and pasting the first chorus twice. The first two Beatles albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles , were recorded on the BTR two track machines; [3] with the introduction of four-track machines in the first 4-track Beatles recording was " I Want to Hold Your Hand " [4] there came a change in the way recordings were made—tracks could be built up layer by layer, encouraging experimentation in the multitrack recording process.

In eight-track recorders became available, but Abbey Road was somewhat slow in adopting the new technology and a number of Beatles tracks including " Hey Jude " were recorded in other studios in London to get access to the new eight-track recorders. Engineer Geoff Emerick has said that the transistorised console played a large part in shaping overall sound of Abbey Road , lacking the aggressive edge of the valve consoles.

The success of the Beatles meant that EMI gave them carte blanche access to the Abbey Road studios—they were not charged for studio time [8] and could spend as long as they wanted working on music. Starting around with the Rubber Soul sessions, the Beatles increasingly used the studio as an instrument in itself, spending long hours experimenting and writing.

He explains that the song "was the first time the bass sound had been heard in all its excitement To get the loud bass sound Paul played a different bass, a Rickenbacker. Then we boosted it further by using a loudspeaker as a microphone.

We positioned it directly in front of the bass speaker and the moving diaphragm of the second speaker made the electric current. Combined with this was the conscious desire to be different. McCartney said, "Each time we just want to do something different. After Please Please Me we decided we must do something different for the next song Why should we ever want to go back? That would be soft. Engineers and other Abbey Road staff have reported that the Beatles would try to take advantage of accidental occurrences in the recording process; " I Feel Fine " and " It's All Too Much "'s feedback and " Long, Long, Long "'s resonating glass bottle towards the end of the track are examples of this.

The Beatles' song " You Like Me Too Much " has one of the earliest examples of this technique: [ clarification needed ] the Beatles recorded the electric piano through a Hammond B-3's rotating Leslie speaker , a or RV, a trick they would come back to over and over again. At the end of the intro, the switching off of the Leslie is audible. Although it's not the first recorded vocal use of a Leslie speaker, the technique would later be used by the Grateful Dead , Cream , The Moody Blues and others.

All of the Beatles had Brenell tape recorders at home, [17] which allowed them to record out of the studio. Some of their home experiments were used at Abbey Road and ended up on finished masters; in particular on "Tomorrow Never Knows". Although strings were commonly used on pop recordings, George Martin's suggestion that a string quartet be used for the recording of " Yesterday " marked a major departure for the Beatles. McCartney recalled playing it to the other Beatles and Starr saying it did not make sense to have drums on the track and Lennon and Harrison saying there was no point having extra guitars.

George Martin suggested a solo acoustic guitar and a string quartet. As the Beatles musical work developed, particularly in the studio, classical instruments were increasingly added to tracks. Lennon recalled the two way education; the Beatles and Martin learning from each other - George Martin asking if they'd heard an oboe and the Beatles saying, "No, which one's that one? Geoff Emerick, documented the change in attitude to pop, as opposed to classical music during the Beatles career.

In EMI at the start of the s, balance engineers were either "classical" or "pop". The tension was also increased as it was the money from pop sales that paid for the classical sessions.

Emerick was the engineer on "A Day in the Life", which used a 40 piece orchestra and recalled "dismay" amongst the classical musicians when they were told to improvise between the lowest and highest notes of their instruments whilst wearing rubber noses. Emerick recalled the evening as the "passing of the torch" between the old attitudes to pop music and the new.


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Audio feedback was used by composers such as Robert Ashley in the early 60s. It was distinguished from its predecessors by a more complex guitar sound, particularly in its introduction, a sustained plucked electric note that after a few seconds swelled in volume and buzzed like an electric razor.

This was the very first use of feedback on a rock record. In The Beatles Anthology series, George Harrison said that the feedback started accidentally when a guitar was placed on an amplifier but that Lennon had worked out how to achieve the effect live on stage.

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The Beatles continued to use feedback on later songs. To fulfil this brief, Geoff Emerick close-miked the strings—the microphones were almost touching the strings. George Martin had to instruct the players not to back away from the microphones. Microphones began to be placed closer to the instruments in order to produce a fuller sound. Ringo's drums had a large sweater stuffed in the bass drum to 'deaden' the sound while the bass drum microphone was positioned very close which resulted in the drum being more prominent in the mix. In " Got to Get You into My Life ", the brass were miked in the bells of their instruments then put through a Fairchild limiter.

According to Emerick, in , this was considered a radically new way of recording strings; nowadays it is common practice. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ". With direct input the guitar pick-up is connected to the recording console via an impedance matching DI box.

Ken Townsend claimed this as the first use anywhere in the world, [31] although Joe Meek , an independent producer from London, is known to have done it earlier early s [32] and in America, Motown's engineers had been using Direct Input since the early s for guitars and bass guitars, primarily due to restrictions of space in their small 'Snakepit' recording studio. Phil McDonald, a member of the studio staff, recalled that Lennon did not really like singing a song twice - it was obviously important to sing exactly the same words with the same phrasing - and after a particularly trying evening of double tracking vocals, Townsend "had an idea" while driving home one evening hearing the sound of the car in front.

The manipulation of the speed of the second machine during playback introduces a delay between the original vocal and the second recording of it, giving the effect of double tracking without having to sing the part twice. The effect had been created "accidentally" earlier, when recording "Yesterday": loudspeakers were used to cue the string quartet and some of McCartney's voice was recorded onto the string track, which can be heard on the final recording.

It has been claimed that George Martin 's pseudoscientific explanation of ADT "We take the original image and we split it through a double-bifurcated sploshing flange" [34] given to Lennon originated the phrase flanging in recording, as Lennon would refer to ADT as "Ken's flanger", although other sources [35] claim the term originated from pressing a finger on the tape recorder's tape supply reel the flange to make small adjustments to the phase of the copy relative to the original. ADT greatly influenced recording—virtually all the tracks on Revolver and Sgt.

Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band had the treatment and it is still widely used for instruments and voices.

Nowadays, the effect is more often known as automatic double tracking. The technique was used later by bands like the Grateful Dead and Iron Butterfly , amongst others.

see The Beatles first used samples of other music on " Yellow Submarine ", the samples being added on 1 June The brass band solo was constructed from a Sousa march by George Martin and Geoff Emerick, the original solo was in the same key and was transferred to tape, cut into small segments and re-arranged to form a brief solo which was added to the song. A similar technique was used for " Being for the Benefit of Mr.