The Beatles, three months after the release of Sgt. Pepper's, filming a musical segment for their next project, the Magical Mystery Tour film:
the Beatles - 1967
Sgt. Pepper was recorded using four-track equipment. Although eight-track tape recorders were available in the US, the first units were not operational in commercial studios in London until late 1967. As with previous Beatles albums, the Sgt. Pepper recordings made extensive use of the technique known as reduction mixing, in which one to four tracks from one recorder are mixed and dubbed down onto a master four-track machine, enabling the Abbey Road engineers to give the group a virtual multitrack studio. EMI's Studer J37 four-track machines were well suited to reduction mixing, as the high quality of the recordings that they produced minimised the increased noise associated with the process. Preferring to overdub his bass part last, McCartney tended to play other instruments when recording a song's backing track. This approach afforded him the extra time required to write and record melodic basslines that complemented the song's final arrangement. When recording the orchestra for A Day in the Life, Martin synchronised a four-track recorder playing the Beatles' backing track to another one taping the orchestral overdub. The engineer Ken Townsend devised a method for accomplishing this by using a 50 Hz control signal between the two machines.
A key feature of Sgt. Pepper is Martin and Emerick's liberal use of signal processing to shape the sound of the recording, which included the application of dynamic range compression, reverberation and signal limiting. Relatively new modular effects units were used, such as running voices and instruments through a Leslie speaker. Several innovative production techniques feature prominently on the recordings, including direct injection, pitch control and ambiophonics. Another is automatic double tracking (ADT), a system that uses tape recorders to create a simultaneous doubling of a sound. Although it had long been recognised that using multitrack tape to record doubled lead vocals produced an enhanced sound, before ADT it had been necessary to record such vocal tracks twice, a task that was both tedious and exacting. ADT was invented by Townsend during the Revolver sessions in 1966 especially for the Beatles, who disliked tracking sessions and regularly expressed a desire for a technical solution to the problem. The process soon became a common recording practice in popular music. Martin playfully explained to Lennon that his voice had been "treated with a double vibrocated sploshing flange ... It doubles your voice, John." Lennon realised that Martin was joking, but from that point on he referred to the effect as flanging, a label that was universally adopted by the music industry. Another important effect was varispeeding. Martin cites Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds as having the most variations of tape speed on Sgt. Pepper. During the recording of Lennon's vocals, the tape speed was reduced from 50 cycles per second to 45, which produced a higher and thinner-sounding track when played back at the normal speed.
Styrous® ~ Tuesday, May 30, 2017