By Andrea Caccese
John Lennon was a genius: a forward-thinking and unique musician as well as one of the key-members of the Beatles. Although all of the “fab four” contributed to the band’s songwriting, Lennon and McCartney were often credited as the two main composers in the band’s most popular material. While McCartney seemed to be more focused on creating melodies and arrangement, John Lennon was a more instinctive performer with a passion for direct songs with powerful thought-provoking lyrics.
His direct attitude was also apparent in the way he liked to record his music, particularly in recording vocals. Lennon didn’t like to spend much time singing in the studio, downright refusing to overdub his vocal takes more than once. In stereo recording, it is extremely common that vocalists record their lead vocals 2 or 3 times over, usually having a track on the left, one on the right and one in the center. This allowed the vocals to stand out and be more present, but it was also demanding, because it required performers to sing exactly identically in every take – down to their breathing between sentences.
Lennon disliked the tedious process and refused to do it. When the band’s producer explained the importance of overdubbing, he reiterated: “Well, find a way that doesn’t involve me singing again and again”.
Lennon’s wishes were granted, as his Abbey Road producers came up with ADT – also known as artificial double tracking. This process involved duplicating a single vocal take and playing it along the original recording with a slight delay and other effect, to give the impression of a different take played at the same time.
This technique is still being used today. What was born out of a grumpy mood actually became a recording industry standard: pretty amazing.
Thanks to technology, get started with an introductory class to electronic music with us today, where you can create in ease, without getting as grumpy as Lennon.
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