Recording the music of The Beatles

The 1960s were a time of immense creative experimentation, questioning the status quo, breaking the rules. Geoff Emerick was a young engineer at London’s EMI recording studio when he began working with the Beatles to record the Revolver and Sergeant Pepper albums, which set the pace for the innovative era. Secretly contravening EMI’s stodgy policies on how to mic and record music, he broke new ground in helping the Beatles in their quest for new and different sonorities. Close mic-ing and dampening the kick drum with a blanket; close mic-ing the string quartet to obtain the grittier sound of bows scraping; recording at a fast tempo and playing back slower; backwards overdubs; splicing together random samples; using sticky editing tape to create a wobble sound. Emerick stretched the boundaries to follow the band’s directives to “make sure that piano doesn’t sound like a piano,” or “make my vocal sound like I’m singing from the moon.” Continue reading →