Building off George Martin’s half-speed, wind up piano technique, The Beatles and their producer used varispeed — variable speed recording — to alter the sound of instruments, vocals, and even entire rhythm tracks of songs. These alterations changed the textures of these parts in sometimes subtle, and sometimes dramatic ways. Today, we examine how Martin and The Beatles used this technique on six recordings from 1966 to 68, and we invite pianist Jesse Reeks back to discuss the reason Martin used this technique on two of his piano solos.
More episodes from "Producing The Beatles"
012 John Lennon, "Love" (S1 bonus episode)
22:02In the first bonus episode for Season 1, we step outside of our regular format and take a peek into solo Beatles territory, with a look at the recording of John Lennon’s song “Love” from his first post-Beatles solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. We trace the song’s development all the way from home demo to finished recording, sampling the session tapes and discovering the role both Yoko and Phil Spector played in reaching the final take.
011 Nothing is Real: Strawberry Fields Forever, take 26
27:20Recording Strawberry Fields Forever was a complicated, layered process, famously requiring the cutting together of two different takes in two different keys and tempos. Today we put our magnifying glass on the second of those takes, take 26, with special attention given to George Martin’s dramatic score for three cellos and four trumpets. We go into the recording studio with seven musicians to re-record Martin’s complete score, and cellist Karen Ray returns to help us deconstruct the arrangement and understand what Martin was doing with this composition.
010 It's Gonna Be Alright: Revolution — Part II (single version)
23:32In examining the making of the third version of Revolution (after Revolution 1 and Revolution 9), we talk to musician and composer Casey McAllister to consider the origins of the recording’s intro; author and producer Jerry Hammack fills us in on how The Beatles got that memorable guitar sound; and former New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn shows us how all three versions of Revolution taken together tell a particular kind of story.
009 It's Gonna Be Alright: Revolution - Part I (Revolution 1 & 9)
36:17Sparked by the air of social upheaval in 1968, John's song "Revolution" spawned three very different recordings: Revolution 1, Revolution 9, and Revolution (the single version). Today, in the first of a two part episode, we look at how Revolution 1 gave birth to Revolution 9, and discover the mesmerizing missing link between the two. Former New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn helps us deconstruct Revolution 9, and to make sense of why John created such a challenging recording in the first place.
008 Producing an "Unproduced" Album - Get Back/Let It Be
34:02With Apple’s announcement that Peter Jackson will be reworking the Let It Be footage, we go back to the actual sessions to examine this period from George Martin’s perspective. Martin and The Beatles advanced the use of the recording studio in a variety of creative ways, but what would happen if they took away their method of building a recording with layers of intricate overdubs and played everything live? On the Get Back/Let It Be project, the Beatles did just that, setting aside the recording process they had developed with their producer over the previous six years. But without “production,” what was Martin’s role in this project, and how much was he actually there? And who actually produced these sessions?
007 Changing Speeds - The 'Varispeed' Technique
20:01Building off George Martin’s half-speed, wind up piano technique, The Beatles and their producer used varispeed — variable speed recording — to alter the sound of instruments, vocals, and even entire rhythm tracks of songs. These alterations changed the textures of these parts in sometimes subtle, and sometimes dramatic ways. Today, we examine how Martin and The Beatles used this technique on six recordings from 1966 to 68, and we invite pianist Jesse Reeks back to discuss the reason Martin used this technique on two of his piano solos.
006 Not So Simple - "From Me To You" and other early singles
21:00The Beatles’ first four singles seem to be fairly straightforward live studio recordings, but George Martin expended a good bit of effort to polish these songs up for release. Today, we listen through the session tapes for The Beatles’ third single, “From Me To You,” to trace Martin’s process for crafting the record, and we’ll discuss how Martin applied the same process in the recording of The Beatles’ other early singles. We also talk with writer and music producer Jerry Hammack, who helps us understand how all of this was accomplished using 1963 technology.
005 The clarinet score for "When I'm Sixty-Four"
22:13“When I’m Sixty-Four” is Paul McCartney’s nostalgic throwback to British music hall, and a tribute to his father, Jim McCartney. Today, we examine George Martin’s iconic clarinet score for the song, and consider how much Paul had a hand in writing that score. We’ll also go into the recording studio to recreate the clarinet score with three musicians, led by John Reeks, Professor of Music at Loyola University, and we’ll break the score down to see what we can learn about its construction and composition.
004 The Beatles on Multitrack, Part 2
17:50In the second half of our brief overview of how George Martin and The Beatles used multitrack recording, we’ll hear how they pushed four-track recording to its breaking point, and we’ll learn how they managed the complex arrangements on Sgt Pepper with such limited means. We’ll also hear how the band’s jump to eight-track recording during the White Album sessions reflected a shift in their relationship with their producer, and how they were still pushing the limits of recording technology even on their last album.
003 The Beatles on Multitrack, Part 1
22:32One of the most fascinating aspects of The Beatles’ career is how, with George Martin’s guidance, they advanced the art of recording, as they went from twin track to four track to eight track tape. Today, we examine how The Beatles progressed from learning the basics of the studio on twin track, to realizing the creative possibilities of four track. To understand how their ideas developed, we’ll listen to individual tracks from six multitrack recordings from 1963-66, and consider George Martin’s role during this period.