40 Comments

  1. cey

    Forgetting the one bout Daft Punk maybe ?

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey Cey,

      I’m not sure I know about the Daft Punk one. What was it?

      -Scott

  2. Anonymous

    Nice article! It was a fun read.

    • Scott Parsons

      Thanks!

      It was fun to write as well! Glad you enjoyed :)

      -Scott

  3. Matt Seymour

    A really fascinating insight.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    Thanks you mate.

  4. joe atkinson

    The ENO>talking heads one is new to me and super interesting, love that track !

  5. Nigel Deane

    Hey Scott,
    I enjoyed reading your article. I think you would be interested in the Scottish band The Associates. There 1982 album Sulk contains many weird & wonderful studio created sounds & effects. The stories around it’s creation are worth seeking out.
    Thanks x

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey Nigel,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Glad you enjoyed the piece.

      I remember reading about the Associates in Simon Reynolds’ brilliant book Rip it Up and Start Again. They are a truly un-sung group for sure.

      I’m not familiar with any of their recording techniques though. What were they experimenting with? I’d love to hear about it.

      -Scott

  6. Mick

    Temptation by Slayer off seasons in the abyss has a double vocal track in the verses. I have heard they recorded both to see which sounded better and then thought it sounded best with both.

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey Mick,

      Thanks for getting in touch. That vocal is incredible! Never knew how it came to be. Important lesson to be learned from that: never trash anything in the studio. Just set your takes aside in case you need ’em later.

      -Scott

  7. Jeremy

    I’d say some of George Martin’s clever tricks on the Beatles’ Revolver album are worth a mention, especially their putting vocals through a Leslie speaker and backwards guitar solos – still pretty cool!

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey Jeremy,

      Agreed. It’d be incredible to find out about every experiment the Beatles did in all their years of recording. I bet a lot of them are very… interesting.

      -Scott

      • Germán

        Quite a bunch of the Beatles’ studio tricks were explained in Geoff Emerick’s autobiography.

  8. Andrew Kent

    “Queen of Hearts” by Juice Newton. By accident (apparently), in the a capella section, the reverb was left off. They soon realized their error but thought it sounded unique. They left it dry.
    Good article.

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for getting in touch. That’s an interesting story.

      Music seems to be full of happy accidents like that.

      Or maybe there are no mistakes when it comes to music? ;)

      -Scott

    • Anonymous

      Never heard of Juice Newton before. Great track and an interesting story!

  9. hugo

    muy buen post bro, saludos desde chile!

  10. Beppie van Cappeleveen

    Hey Scott,

    Thanks for this article. For youngsters, there is a much recent and very markable example. Swedish House Mafia. Creating their lead by shorten the bassdrum and loop it all the way till it makes the Bzzzz sound. Too bad it’s only rock minded.

  11. Erik

    When I read this article, I was thinking Beatles recording the entire time: like how Strawberry Fields Forever was made from certain tracks of two takes in different tempos and keys. Great read!

  12. Paul

    Nice read…thanks for sharing

  13. Jesse

    The MJ/cardboard tube trick reminded me of Pantera doing the same thing but with a toilet paper tube, Lolz

  14. Kirk Copeland

    Fantastic article! I was surprised, however, that no Pink Floyd stuff was mentioned, particularly Dark Side of the Moon (are you any relation to the great Alan Parsons incidentally?) and even more specifically, the intro to Money. There are some great interviews with Roger Waters, Parsons, and the other members of the band on the Classic Albums series about the process of stretching tape around multiple mic stands in order to get the unique 7/8 timing perfect. And that’s just one of the many different techniques that cropped out on that landmark album.

    Again, wonderful story! Thanks for the amazing insight!

    Kirk Copeland

  15. Ryan

    Why are The Beatles not on here? They were true pioneers when it comes to experments that became hit records. You know, things like backwards guitar, singing through a leslie speaker, not to mention the first band to have guitar feedback on a record. The use of many unheard of instruments at the time (to westerners) like the sitar and many other indian instruments. If it weren’t for The Beatles, George Martin, and engineer Geoff Emmerick, your list would probably be blank.

    • Tim

      Totally agree! Well said. Without The Beatles, (Rain, Paperback Writer, A Day In The Life, Tomorrow Never Knows, The entire album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band- All These were recorded on 4 tracks!) Backwards guitars, sped up and slowed down mixes affecting the pitch. Feed back on I Feel Fine. A song fading in at the start Eight Day’s A Week. I could go on and on.

  16. Eselsdistel

    One of the great great accidents was the riff for David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” riff as well. Apparently, all Nile Rodgers wanted to do was to show Bowie the guitar chord progression he had written as a rearrangement of Bowie’s first ideas, just the single chords on staccato, without knowing that the sound engineer had forgotten to turn off all the delays he had been experimenting the previous days on the studio (just to adjust them to different instruments, as a test). The final result is the recorded riff.

  17. Saravana Gowtham

    Great article! Thanks for sharing this. I like the quote “If you think it, try it” please write more articles like this in future. Thank you. Have a great day :)

  18. Michael Jack

    Quick correction. Brian Eno is not an “accomplished musician”. His specialty has always been electronic tinkering and studio production. You might want to read up a little more about his background. There is a biography available on his life and his work also several biographies on Roxy Music ( The influential British band he co-founded)
    I need always considered the recording studio his instrument. He excels as a producer/arranger.

  19. Michael Jack

    Typo alert on the end of my first comment. Voice dictation on my iPhone really did a number to that sentence :)

  20. JS

    Forgetting ABBA? Even if it’s not strictly only recording, every tracks was recorded multiple times and played back together while slightly altering the pitch and speed of some, which gives this crystal clarity, especially on voices.

  21. Anonymous

    Great Article. Lot’s of ideas for experimenting! Thanks!

  22. Anonymous

    Excelente articulo Scott son grandes y arriesgadas las cosas que hicieron estos ingenieros y productores.Gracias

  23. Nick

    Another classic was the recording of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bookends’ album. The song ‘Cecilia’ had around ten two track open reel recorders synced up down a hallway. The enormous crash in the chorus of ‘The Boxer’ was achieved by propping open the doors on a lift shaft and placing a bass drum in front of it with microphones picking up the reverb. It’s said that just as they hit the drum for a take, the lift appeared containing a security guard who went white and cowered like he was being shot at. Supposedly he wasn’t seen in the building again.

    Great article. Much enjoyed!

  24. Jamie

    My favourite is the snare drum on Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”. They sampled a snare drum, then placed a speaker over the snare drum, then placed a microphone underneath the drum and a speaker over the top… then played the sample of the snare drum back through the snare drum and recorded that, which created the “popping” sound on the track.

  25. Bigdog

    When recording the acoustic arpeggio guitar for Hotel California, Don Felder had the guitar run through a Leslie speaker with the horn turning very slowly to get that swirling effect you hear on the record.

  26. Anonymous

    Led Zeppelin when the Levee breaks. The drums were recorded in a stairwell in and old English mansion. The reverb effect is staggering.

  27. Roger Summers

    I read each innovation with relish. And mustard.
    So I downloaded the tornado’s song and through it in the wave editor and sped it up am octave, normal tape variations of speed. That canary was PISSED OFF!!!! Unless they used a variable speed on the track to get it even slower. But my understanding, after watching that Sgt. Pepper special on PBS that the EMI guys invented the variable speed so they could sound….I forgot the word they used, younger happier?? Higher defiantly.
    So many things we take for granted NOW started with the Beatles. Chorus as well. That whole album on 4 tracks. We tried it in the 1970’s with our little 3440 Teac. NOT EASY.

  28. Anonymous

    “Fame” by Bowie should be on this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fame_(David_Bowie_song)

  29. Dave Malham

    Of course, it is worth looking even further back at the non-commercial world of radiophonic music/musique concrete/electroacoustic music/electronic music where, in fact, (most) of these techniques were first used by people like Pierre Schaeffer (France) and Stockhausen (Germany). Some of techniques even used multiple shellac records as tape machines were still too unreliable!

  30. Mike Janowski

    This is a fine list. I might have included someone who first thought to put a tape thru the capstan/pinch roller backwards…that was a pretty rad idea!

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