Stung Eye
Stung Eye

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I's comment on yesterday's post has got me thinking about the Beatles and the various recording techniques they pioneered. I have always loved all the hard panning on early Beatles recordings. Hard panning is an audio mixing term used when a vocal track, instrument, drum kit, etc, is mixed to play solely on either the left or right stereo channel. This technique can be heard on many old rock albums, (it's especially obvious when listening with headphones.) Back in the early days of rock and roll recording, the 4 track mixers used in the studio only had 3 pan positions: hard left, hard right and centre.

If you're a music nerd you might be saying: "Wait a second Wally! On that Beatles track you posted yesterday, the drums sound like they are panned to the left, but I can still hear them faintly in the right channel. That doesn't sounds like hard panning to me!" To which I answer: "Mic bleed, my son. Mic bleed." In other words, the sound from the drums was also picked up and recorded at a low level by the other microphones in the session.

Hard panning is the result of the producer/engineer/artist wanting to spread sounds across the stereo spectrum while being limited by the technology at hand. You'd be hard pressed to find any hard panning in today's commercial music. I've always enjoyed the effect. It comes with the added bonus of allowing me to isolate particular instruments or vocals when sampling a track for my own musical endeavors. (i.e. I can simply sample the two stereo channels separately.)

If you're interesting in learning more about the recording techniques used by the Beatles, I have some links:

  • The Evolution of Beatles' Recording Technology

  • Techinal advances on the album Revolver (pdf) - (My favourite Beatles album BTW)

  • The Beatles Recording Sessions

  • The Beatles Song Index - A reference to all the songs the Beatles have recorded and authorized for publication.

    Imagine a career in music than spanned such a progression in recording, mixing and mastering technology. They started with a two track recorded and progress to tape delays, tape loops, vari-speed tape machines and more.

    For the record, the very first album I can distinctly remember listening to as a child was a Beatles album. My parents would play me Sgt. Pepper to put me to sleep. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, still makes me drowsy.


    Listen to the Iron Maiden elektro tribute album.

    I love these SX-70 polaroid manipulations! Who needs photoshops when you can do all this with a polaroid and a wooden stick. (via things)

    Edmund Dulac's illustrations are truly enchanting. (via cup of chica)



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