Recording technique on certain albums?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by LiquidMidnight, Mar 8, 2002.

  1. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I thought this would do better in recordings because it's about certain songs/albums in particular.

    Well, I woke up this morning (actually afternoon but that's besides the point :D ) and decided I wanted to learn "Another One Bites the Dust". My band isn't covering it or anything, but I thought I would learn it anyways, being it's sort of a standard and I want to know it if I ever get called on to do it.

    So I pop my dad's old Queen cassette into the player and start playing. I listen to what the bassist is doing for the first few measures and I pause the tape, run over it while the melody is still fresh in my head, and bang it out on the bass. Then when I go to play along with the recording, it's horribly out of tune. But it's still close enough that I know the song's in E. I know that my bass is perfectly in tune but it's out with the recording. I then went a checked a tab to make sure I was correct and it says it's in the key of E too.

    Now, I once read that sometimes, certain recordings, when they are mixing to a DAT that they slow the master recording down just a little bit, so it's a little off key from when they orginally played it. I heard they did this with "Paraniod" by Sabbath. The song is suppose to be somewhere inbetween E and Eb. (a quarter step? but whenever I think quarter step, I'm thinking of a "sitarish" sound) I was thinking maybe this song has the same treatment. Or maybe because it's an older cassette, it strechted just a little wee bit out of tune from how it was orginally recording. :confused:

    Has anyone else expierenced anything like this on other songs?
  2. radiohead has a bunch of songs like that.
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Well, you were listening to a cassette, right? Tape deck speeds are notoriously inconsistent.

    I've gotten many a cassette of songs to learn for a gig only to find out that the tape is as much as a whole step out of tune.
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Brian's right; the cassette player is at fault. You're reading too much into it.
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I dunno...I believe it's a viable technique of "using the studio as an instrument". Not sayin' I'm pro or con, either.

    IMO, the artist or engineer MAY decide to slow down(or speed up) the recording AFTER the fact.
    The track may be totally complete & 'killer'...BUT, it may be deemed a little slow(or a little fast) OR the parties in-question may 'slow' a track to de-tune the pitch.
    Granted, I noticed this more in the daze pre-5 string basses/synth basses(like that Queen tune, Sabbath, etc. Also, "Beat It" by Michael's blantantly in "E" until you play along, then it's in "Eb").
    Also, The Beatles experimented with pitch & de-tuning...wasn't the bass part to "Rain" played on de-tuned strings & then SPED UP on the final mix?

    Then there's those "singers" who don't have the range to pull off what they're supposed to be good at...more creativity/studio mumbo-jumbo helps those "artist" out. ;)
  6. Mr_Pink


    Nov 30, 2000
    I know a nice one, but you have to listen very carefully:

    Roxanne from the police. In first few seconds of the song the guitar is tuned down a little bit. Just before the bass falls in you hear the tuning of the guitar being "pulled up" so it becomes correct.

    I found it out searching the bassline: I listened to the first seconds (which has only guitar) and tuned my bass on it .

    Then the bass came in and I had to retune...
  7. the Cure song "Friday I'm in Love" is in D (drop D tuning on bass), but on the recorded version it's a bit sharp- between D and Eb.
    apparently Robert Smith forgot to reset the pitch adjust on the multitrack tape machine.

    another one is "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers- the verse is slightly sharp of Eb.

    re. setting the speed of a cassette deck, I check it using Metallica's black album, using Enter sandman, comparing it with the open E string of a bass (tuned with a digital tuner, of course:))
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It doesn't apply in the particular case mentioned though - I was playing bass in bands when "Another one.." came out in the UK and evryone wanted you to play it as it was in the charts here for ages. I would agree that the tape must be stretched or the speed on the cassette player is out.

    As an aside, I remember that I used to make loads of demos with a particular singer on a Fostex 4-track. So she would always sound slightly flat; but if I turned the pitch of the whole recording up by just under a semi-tone she sounded great! But this meant that if anybody had tried to play along to any of our demos they would have struggled. ;)
  9. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Yep, especially cheaper cassette decks. My band used to have a guy that would make us tapes on his boom box. Always out of tune. Thanks to the internet now, though, I just download the mp3, and it is always right...;)
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