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Author Topic: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...  (Read 11914 times)

volodia

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2004, 09:18:18 am »

HI,

I started at EMI studios and my mentor told me about what they called a "choir machine" in the 70's which was a multitrack with one note per track and a keyboard that would unmute the console channels . apparently every EMI studio (ie abbey road) had one and Alan Parsons, when he came to EMI France had his own too .
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Jim Frazier

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2004, 10:20:00 am »

volodia wrote on Wed, 14 July 2004 14:18

HI,

I started at EMI studios and my mentor told me about what they called a "choir machine" in the 70's which was a multitrack with one note per track and a keyboard that would unmute the console channels . apparently every EMI studio (ie abbey road) had one and Alan Parsons, when he came to EMI France had his own too .


O.K. Now we're getting somewhere! This sounds like in all probability what might have been used on the James Taylor and Billy Joel songs. So by your definition, it was a standard keyboard, and pressing any key simply unmuted that channel on a console, where the note was playing from the reel of tape, correct? I'd like to find out more about this thing. Does anyone have anymore info? Thanks for that volodia.

J.J.,

Regarding the 10CC tune, I totally agree with you. The Mellotron (or Chamberlain) certainly didn't make up for a large majority of the vocal pad, but starting in the second verse, and in the middle break down section, there is a sound playing an octave lower than the vocal "Ahh's" that has the distinct sound of the choir and/or string sound(s) from the Mellotron tapes. Very "midrangy" and "honkey", if you know what I mean.
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ssltech

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2004, 05:22:43 pm »

"I'm not in love" was not a Mellotron. Neither (strictly speaking) was it a 24-track machine running in sync. The notes were not "punched in to extend them".

Other than that, you're close. Very close.

It was recorded at the Band's Strawberry Studios in Stockport. The console was a Bright red wrap-around Helios (a picture of which is actually on Dan Alexander's website, -the exact console) and the tape machine was a Studer A80 2" 24-track. The notes were sung one at a time,perhaps ten seconds long, about as long as the note could comfortably be held (multitracked, 24 of each) onto 24 tracks, then mixed to 1/4". Then the next note was done. When all the notes were mixed down to 1/4", the mixed "submasters" were cut into loops. The loops were various in length, perhaps some were 7-point-something seconds long, others might be eleven seconds... who knows, who really cares! Where splice points sounded in any way too obvious, the tape was cut and the edit was re-tried, until a better sounding loop point was found.

Next the loops were loaded one at a time onto the 1/4" machine. They were played back, loop points happening wherever they randomly ocurred, and each was recorded onto a blank piece of 2" tape, each note onto a different track.

The resulting "Mega-loop-multitrack" was played back and the faders formed the "notes" for the "players" to 'play' the voice "aah" loops back into the tune, on the "real" multitrack tape.

There was no synchronisation. None was needed. There is no timing information contained in the "aah" reel, and if it ever ran out, or if any of the "playing" was late, early, or just plain wrong notes, the 'proper' multitrack could be rewound and a punch-in made, without ever having to rewind or re-sync the "aah" reel. Similarly, if the "aah" reel ever ran out, it could be rewound to the start, and the multitrack tape backed up a few seconds, and a punch-in ("drop-in" was the term in use at the time) made, then carry on as before.

The idea for the whispered voice in the Middle section:
"Be quiet... big boys don't cry....
big boys don't cry....

big boys don't cry....
big boys don't cry...." etc...
was from the receptionist, who came in while they were listening during the recording part of the session, while they were looking for an idea to put in there. She didn't want to interrupt, so she went up to Graham ( I think it was Graham, anyway..) and whispered to him that there was a phone call for him. -The sound of her whispering gave him the idea to put her in front of the mic, and from that moment forward, she had a place in music history!

Anyhow, just wanted to put the record straight.

That helios was a pretty individual thing! -It even had a cigarette lighter (12V, out of a car!) in it!

Keith
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..

J.J. Blair

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2004, 06:09:56 pm »

Two things:

First, thanks ssl tech for the true story.  I listened to the song on my plane flight yesterday and I correct myself.  There is not mellotron choral sounds in the pad, but there IS mellotron cello in the bridge (before the final verse, I think it was).  I'll be damned if anybody tells me that's not the truth.

On another note, whoever said that it can't be a mellotron due to the length of the note should know that all you need to do to extend the length of a mellotron note is to play the track, start playing the tron before the recorded tron drops out and then start recording over the existing track.  

Very coincidentally, as I just checked my e-mail, I received one from Markus Resch, who now owns Mellotron and builds the new ones.  He wanted to know if I want some new tapes made before he comes and visits LA soon.  
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

ssltech

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2004, 12:20:07 pm »

Cool-ee-oh!

Here's a pic of the console, BTW...
http://www.danalexanderaudio.com/danspics/redconsole.jpg

This was from just before it was finally sold from the Strawberry/"Yellow 2" (Strawberry two after it was renamed... just across the road from the original strawberry site...) studio site.

The Yamaha REV-1 remote and the early British Telecom phone date this picture as about 1986... yes that's a 'Q-Lok' remote in the picture, no it wasn't there when "I'm Not In Love" was done! Smile

The reason for not just looping the "AAH" 24-track tape was that the loop splice points would then have come at the same instant for all the same notes simultaneously. -Listen to the fadeout of the tune and you can hear where they slowly started to "Broom-handle" all the faders up towards the top of their travel, making a glorious, dissonant but fluffy atonal pad that slowly swamps the whole tune... if you concentrate and try to focus in on one signe note, you can sometimes hear the looping rhythm at this point, but you know what... it just don't matter... the darned thing is a plain ol' work of genius, and if that's what it took to make that sound, I'm all for it!

Very Happy

Note the tape machine remotes at the bottom of the picture... A 'Star' layout, with the blue stop buttons in the middle, Green PLAY at the bottom, red RECORD at the top, and white FF/REW to the left and right. That darned console was totally idiosynchratic.. I loved it!

Keith
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..

echorec

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2004, 06:42:31 pm »

ssltech wrote on Fri, 16 July 2004 17:20

Cool-ee-oh!

Here's a pic of the console, BTW...



Ouch! That is so beautiful Cool
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Jim Frazier

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2004, 09:38:49 pm »

ssl tech,

Thanks so much for all that information! What a cool story! I know there's lots of these kinds of tales out there, but this was one I was unaware of. It makes listening to that song even more enjoyable than it already is!

I used to close my eyes when listening to that song, and see mental images of forest greens, warm blues and misty gray colors. Now I'll only be able to see that helios red!! Razz
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J.J. Blair

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2004, 10:08:03 pm »

[quote title=Jim Frazier wrote on Fri, 16 July 2004 18:38] I used to close my eyes when listening to that song, and see mental images of forest greens, warm blues and misty gray colors./quote]

I'll have what he's having.  
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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Jim Frazier

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2004, 10:37:58 pm »

[quote title=J.J. wrote on Sat, 17 July 2004 03:08]
Jim Frazier wrote on Fri, 16 July 2004 18:38

 I used to close my eyes when listening to that song, and see mental images of forest greens, warm blues and misty gray colors./quote]

I'll have what he's having.  


No man! I only get high off the music man! Laughing

I was trying to tie in that blinding red console... creative writing obviously isn't my strength!
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Bryson

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2004, 10:38:32 pm »

ssltech wrote on Fri, 16 July 2004 09:20

Cool-ee-oh!

Here's a pic of the console, BTW...





I don't see the fag lighter.
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screws

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2004, 06:15:11 pm »

Bryson wrote on Fri, 16 July 2004 22:38

I don't see the fag lighter.



Not that there's anything wrong with that...
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Steve Cruz
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compasspnt

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Re: I'm trying to pinpoint the source of a sound from the 70's...
« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2010, 12:32:41 am »

WhyKooper wrote on Tue, 13 July 2004 02:50

Each track of the tape had one sung drone note (punched in over and over to give length)and then at one point, they cut the entire 2" tape and made it into a huge loop...similar to what B Gibb did with Galutan etc at Miami's Criteria a lot in those days with long 24 track loops, looped around pencils and who knows what else.




http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/m/163263/6490/?sr ch=Ardotron#msg_163263
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