This evening, 42 years ago, The Beatles went into Abbey Road Studios from 8pm until 1.15am to start recording what I consider the best song of their entire career. And it was take 3 of the rhythm section that made it on to the record. The song? Tomorrow Never Knows
From the book: The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn: Perhaps the most striking sound on `Tomorrow Never Knows’ is one of the tape loops [the sound achieved by tape saturation, by removing the erase head of a machine and then recording over and over on the same piece of tape]. “The tape loop idea started because they all had Brennell machines,” recalls Geoff Emerick. “Paul in particular used to make his own loops at home and walk into the studio with bags full of little reels saying `Listen to this!’ The seagull-like noise on `Tomorrow Never Knows’ is really a distorted guitar.” (According to studio documentation, other loops used included the sounds of a speeded up guitar and a wine glass.) “We did a live mix of all the loops,” says George Martin. “All over the studios we had people spooling them onto machines with pencils while Geoff did the balancing. There were many other hands controlling the panning.” “We had five machines running,” says Phil McDonald. “Geoff would say ‘OK, let’s lift that fader, that sounds good’. It was done totally off the cuff. The control room was as full of loops as it was people.” “I laid all of the loops onto the multi-track and played the faders like a modern day synthesiser,” says Emerick.
According to wikipedia the tape loops also contained:
An orchestral chord of B flat major (0:19)
A Mellotron Mk.II, played on the “flute” tape set (0:22)
Another Mellotron played in 6/8 from B flat to C, using the “3 violins” tape set (0:38)
A rising scalar phrase on a sitar (actually electric guitar, reversed and severely sped up), recorded with heavy saturation and acceleration (0:56)
And heres The Chemical Brothers tribute; “Let Forever Be” – music video directed by Michel Gondry…