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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sound Of "Won't Get Fooled Again"

The iconic song of a generation and staple of Classic Rock radio is The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." What really makes the sound of that record is what everyone thinks is an arpeggiated synthesizer (actually it's an organ controlled by a sample and hold generator) which makes up the principle rhythm of the song. In video clip #1 that follows, Pete Townshend discusses how he got that sound.

Clip #2 is the first of a series of examples that I'll be posting illustrating how perfection isn't required in great music. Sometimes it's the imperfections that make a record special, and you'll hear that in the second clip, which is that same organ track of Won't Get Fooled Again isolated from the rest of the music. It's pretty random, imperfectly played (there are a lot of split notes), and so far away from what anyone would do today (even Townshend) that it makes for a great history lesson.

It's also interesting to listen to the places in the track where the organ is shared with background vocals, hand claps and guitar, which was necessary in 1970 when the song was recorded since it was still the era of limited tape tracks to record on (the song was done on an 8 track).

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