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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Value Of Fewer Tracks - The Making Of The Beatles "Come Together"

I'm pleased to say that I started my recording career in the era of limited tracks. As a young working musician, I owned one of the first 4 track Dokoder tape recorders. My first professional productions (and where I really learned the craft) came on a 16 channel MCI console and a Scully 8 track recorder. It was a big deal when I finally graduated to 24 track recording on major label projects.

While having limited tracks to work with might seem primitive compared to today's unlimited digital tracks, it was really a blessing in disguise. Fewer tracks means that decisions have to be made during the recording process. If there's a sound or part that you think you like, you have to commit to it NOW, rather that leave it to be sorted out later during mixing. That sort of forced decision making leads to more efficient, quicker recording, and the ability to trust your first creative instincts (which we often overlook when we have too many choices).

Again, that approach seems to be creatively limited, but some of the greatest music of our time was made  that way. All of the timeless music by The Beatles and all their contemporaries were done with 8 tracks or less. Here's a great example of how "Come Together" came together, starting from a 4 track tape then finished on 8 track.


Unknown said...

Wow! That's absolutely awesome to hear broken down! It's like seeing the Mona Lisa broken down by brush-stroke . . .

Is there more?

Jeff Shattuck said...

Wow, the Beatles were just so good. Despite all the praise already heaped on them, they deserve even more. Incredible. Thanks for posting this.



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