Review of my Favorite CD: Beatles 1
When listening to music created by the internationally famous Beatles, an extraordinary audible voice, composing and various instrumental unique talent comes across reaching out to audiences. Beatles changed world history in multiple ways. Their musical experimentation made breakthrough phenomenal contributions to music recording history. The Beatles produced some of the most amazing musical sounds, opening doorways to ongoing music recording technology advancements. Music artists who’s fame and popularity rose in the 70’s to the present, ability to create attention getting, cutting edge musical sounds at live concerts are possible as a result of modern technology produced from the Beatles first manual sound recording inventions during the second half of the sixties decade.
On November 13, 2000, a collection containing all Beatles international hits in the United Kingdom and Untied States were released. The name of the recently released album with twenty seven Beatles classic hits is called Beatles 1. The songs on the newly released recording have lyrics, rhythms, melodies, chords, tones and instrumentation identical to the originals. What makes this album unique is the sharp sound quality and distinctive audible instruments resulting from remixing and remastering with modern technology. Changes made with updated technology are enhanced microphones, stereo recording replaced original mono recordings and musical instruments combined with computer enhanced Protools mixing board. The difference of sound between original recordings and updated versions are most audible on higher quality sound systems and speakers.
On the modern Beatles 1, singer’s varied musical abilities is evident. Only four people are singing. The album gives the impression more than four people are required to create the music being played. Musical instruments and voices are much closer to sounding like a live band is playing in the room. Watching music videos from the Beatles 1 album on a surround sound stereo system sounds similar to the Beatles playing and singing live in the living room. However, amazing recording developments are the Beatles trademark and biggest contribution to the music society.
Listening to the Beatles 1 album, stirs up curiosity regarding the way the enhanced sounds were produced. Two of the original musicians passed. It is obvious they are not actually changing anything in their voices transforming their songs into fuller, clearer and sharper lyrics. The songs are more defined. Background static is nonexistent. The pitches, tones and notes are noticeably more distinct. The sounds of the chords stand out from the rest of the single notes to a great extent at certain points in the songs. The pattern or tonality changes throughout the songs are distinctly noted. What made the changes? Recording technology transformed magical sounds into fantasy from mono toned music.
Beatles 1 contains songs produced after their Rubber Soul album. Their Rubber Soul album is what changed the tone of Rock and Roll music. The Beatles transformed popular music, inventing traditional Rock and Roll music. Traditional Rock and Roll music was inspired from Rhythm and Blues and Jazz. Standard Rock bands consists of percussion, string instrument (usually guitar) and an underlying steady pulse consistent throughout the song, changing when the scale changes. Rock music always played major roles in popular cultures. Music notes and rhythms are written so they arrangement of the instrumentations are easy to dance to, and effortlessly followed by general audiences. Most time signatures on popular music are written in 2/4 or 4/4. The accent on the underlying pulse is most often accented on second and fourth beat. Backbeats define Rock and Roll category. The Beatles expanded on basic instruments used for playing Rock and Roll Music.
In the sixties, recording multi-instruments and voices were extremely time consuming. Three or more recordings overlapping one another were mandatory to create sounds heard in the Beatles music. When the Beatles made the original songs on the Beatles 1, they made several recordings to make one song. The Beatles 1 album were created with one recording, using modern recording systems. Mixing boards, ADT’s and eight track tapes originated from the Beatles multiple overlapping recordings. During the second half of the 60’s, the Beatles produced recordings in recording rooms impossible on stage.
The Beatles constantly strived to create new sounds on every album. They experimented on the many different possibilities of enhancing sound, and trying replacements for traditional microphones. Today, multiple microphones for different sized rooms, and different voice projections were invented with the Beatles experimenting.
Recording of Beatles 1
The musical properties are much easier for anyone to recognize, therefore the new release of Beatles 1 possibly encourages a more thorough appreciation for music from the ordinary listeners. Music is shaped and characterized by its major or minor tonic. “Tonality is an important structural property of music, and it has been described by music theorists and psychologists as an ordering of the pitches of the chromatic scale such that these notes are perceived in relation to one central and stable pitch, the tonic, Smith and Schmuckler, 2000” (Shenoy, Wang, 2005). Reinvention of Beatles hits did not give new tonality or personality to their music. The arrangements of notes and timing of musical instruments creating the chords are tools giving individual music tonality. Musical notes and instruments have not been altered in the newer release. The album remade with new technology only made the tonality and character of the songs clearer to the average listener. The Beatles music was unique because of their strong interchangeable or inter weaving of accented voices, also more noticeable in Beatles 1.
The sound quality of the instruments and voices are noticeably more balanced in the updated version of Beatles 1. The musical properties are much easier for anyone to recognize, therefore developing a more thorough appreciation for music. Balancing instruments and singing voices requires acoustic knowledge. The availability of modern technology is a major asset to achieving professional quality sound. Modern technology still requires understanding of acoustics and sound designs. The engineer has to know how placement and size of room and distance of microphones affect sound accents, which sounds must be emphasized and how to equal out the audio. If proper measures are not taken, the music sounds very monotone and uneven. Some of the voices and instruments can easily be drowned out. In the song, Come Together, Paul McCartney played the bass and piano; John Lennon played the rhythm guitar, George Harrison played the Lead guitar and Ringo Starr played percussions. It is essential all instruments are heard. The bass can easily override the underlying beat produced by the rhythm instrument. It is no wonder the Beatles discovered many ways of enhancing and improving sound quality. Paul McCartney is a multi-instrumentalists. In some of the Beatles newer or first recordings, the backbeat did get lost in the music. Lead vocals and instrumentation are supposed to shape and dominate the entire song. Beatles 1 has an enhanced shaping to the songs, consisting of more defined high and low points in the music. The newer recordings unintentionally blends instrumental sounds together in some recordings. The Beatles trying out new methods of sound designs, such as microphone replacements made some major breakthroughs in the recording industry.
One of these major fascinating breakthroughs in music recording is noise cancellation. The difference heard in Beatles 1 compared to the originals is unmistakable. Specialty training (music, acoustics or audio) is not required for anyone to immediately hear the remarkable improvement in the sound quality of the Beatles 1 album. The Beatles 1 was digitally remixed. The original recordings of the Beatles songs were analog. Analogs are copies of original sound waves. “They were the first group to use the recording studio as a writing tool, building up complex song arrangements by multi-tracking and importing orchestral textures and avante-guard effects under the guidance of George Martin” (Glassman, 2001). Sometimes the singers sang the second version over the first analog version of the recording. This is known as double tracking. The Beatles were the first ones to test this method. Eventually, 8 track tapes were used in recording rooms. When they recorded the same song several times, a technique called multitracking, to get audible affects of layering the instruments, constant interchanges of singer’s voices, background noise was collected and added onto the analog tape each time. Besides layers of music, static and other noises were overlapped, noticeable in the completed audio recordings as well. Before noise cancellation were invented, hisses, snaps, crackles and pops were heard in the songs purchased in stores. Hey Jude is the most prominent example of the importance in the advancement of noise cancellation inventions. Even with state of the art technology and expert engineers, outside noise is sometimes unavoidable. Ventilation units are one of the unavoidable interferences. When MP3’s are downloaded through filesharing, amateurs experimenting with their home recording system who sneaks in their own recording will usually have background noises. People who have home recording systems cannot afford the quality sound systems recorded in professional studios.
When the Beatles recorded Rubber Soul, a prerequisite to their hits on the Beatles 1, they experimented with magnetic analog recordings. The exact same musical patterns, rhythms, phrasing and music arranging is repeatedly recorded several times, one of top of the other. One of the reasons for this is to give the original recording a stronger more definite sound. This process allowed the musicians to add more instruments and highlight background voices throughout certain points of the song. Emphasizing certain highlights in the songs were sometimes automatic by varying playback speeds while overlapping the previous recording. The data was stored on a magnetic tape, highly susceptible to outside noises.
As mentioned before, one of the most notable changes on the Beatles 1 is the voice clarification. Using microphone replacements and singing at various distances from the microphone, the Beatles achieved these results years ago. Beatles 1 sounds like they sang 3 feet away from the microphones. In this situation, mics were placed three feet away from the recordings of the singing voices the record company was reinventing. Singing or playing instruments close up to the microphones sounds like voices coming directly from the front of the singer, creating a monotone. Recording three feet away from the microphone produces sound heard coming from around the back. This technique makes voices sound fuller, more expanded. Eventually surround sound was created. In live concerts, singers voices and instruments filled huge theatres. Today, recording engineers use reverb method to get this effect.
Beatles 1 CD did enhance the existing quality of the instrumental playing sounds and singer’s voices. However, technology is limited. The best recording equipment and recording engineers are only as good as the talent. Advanced technology clarifies and brings out great singing voices. Advanced technology also magnifies weak singing voices. Even if someone knew nothing about the Beatles, the voice creativity and talent was understood. The vocal strength and depth in their singing voices are obvious. “Other features that are trademarks of the Beatles style are the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah exclamations and the constant interchange between lead and background vocals. The Beatles tend to use more chord interesting progressions and more complex harmonies than other groups” (Yudkin 2004).
Conclusion; Impression of Music and Performers
Everyone on the planet is familiar with the Beatles and their music. By the time the Beatles 1 album was released, opinions were formed. These multi talented musicians influenced and promoted popular culture. Beatles changed Rock and Roll’s character and the way this music category is perceived. In reality, Rock and Roll was considered wild, deviant music. Beatles caused Rock and Roll music to be wilder, and unacceptable by politically correct standards. Some music theorists consider the Beatles music to be associated with drugs. When listening to the Beatles, I do not relate any of the songs to drugs. All I am concerned about when hearing music, is the music itself. It is dance music made for, at that time younger generations. This album brings music classics to reach younger generations. Rock music derived from Blues and Jazz. Beatles progressiveness of rock music influenced hip-hop and rap music. The song, Come Together, is my favorite song on the Beatles 1 CD. Come Together rhythm, notes and chords accent all four counts throughout most of the song. The musical emphases are on the strong distinctive beat through the first three measures of the song. Usually dance songs have weaker beats on the second fourth counts. I see a strong correlation between today’s heavily accented beats giving the songs their identity and Beatles written musical arrangements. My favorite CD is the Beatles 1. The Beatles 1 CD displays the amazing advancement in music technology over the years. Music technology increases music appreciation affecting bigger audiences. The Beatles musical and singing talents are notable in this new CD. The average listener can distinguish the chord progressions, the notes, maybe not each individual note, but they will notes the changing accents in this newer album. Rock music is fun, energetic music. The album’s success inspired Paul McCartney to transform all of the Beatles in digital music next year. When talented musicians pass away, their fans feel a major loss. Fans always wait for reunion tours giving a message the band is still there. I also like this album because it keeps the atmosphere of the Beatles alive.
Glassman, J., “The Beatles Musical Foot Prints.” BBC news (30 November 2001) BBC.CO.UK retrieved 14 November 2007
Shenoy, Arun, and Ye Wang. “Key, Chord, and Rhythm Tracking of Popular Music Recordings.” Computer Music Journal 29.3 (Fall 2005): 75-86. Science & Technology Collection. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 14 November 2007.
Thompson, Daniel. “Understanding Audio” Berklee Press (2005) Boston Massachutes
Retrieved 14-16 November 2007.
Yudkin, Jeremy. “Discover Music” Sony Music (2004) New York, New York Retrieved 14-16 November 2007.