Thursday, November 17, 2005

Geoff Emerick

Interesting interview with Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer that worked on several Beatles albums including Sgt. Peppers and Abbey Road.

Considering that you were using loops as far back as 1966 [on Revolver], it must amuse you that they are now so prevalent.

A lot of it was that Paul had a couple of Brenell tape recorders at home. You could disconnect the erase head on them, and he used them to make tape loops, putting new recordings over the first. He’d come in with a bag full of them—some long, some very small—all labeled with a grease pencil. We’d lace them up on our tape machine, and people would have to hold them out with pencils. I recall that on “Tomorrow Never Knows,” there weren’t enough people in the control room to handle holding them, so we got some of the maintenance department down to help. I think we put five loops up on faders, and then just played it as an instrument.

Of course, now, it’s endless, you can do anything. But often, all that doesn’t mean anything. If you just press a button and it’s there, you haven’t really created anything, have you? Going back to the artistic side of it, it’s the difference between painting by numbers or being a Rembrandt and painting a picture. Anyone can apply this technology to recorded music. But there’s that certain something that you can’t put your finger on, something that you can actually give to that piece of recording that the equipment can’t. It’s something that’s in your heart, that’s in you, that doesn’t come from any equipment whatever. It comes from what you hear.

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