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Pink Floyd - Money

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    Pink Floyd's 1973 single "Money" uses "tape loop" as a "guide track" for studio recording.

     

    "Money" is a song by British group Pink Floyd [Cambridge:655], released as single on 7 May 1973.

    Musicians: Roger Waters - bass, David Gilmour - guitar, Richard Wright - keys, Nick Mason - drums and Dick Parry on sax. 

    Record label: Harvest.

    Producers: Pink Floyd.

    Technicians: Alan Parsons (sound engineer), Chris Thomas (mix supervisor) and  Peter James (assistant technician).

    Writer and composer: Roger Waters.

     

    Similar phonograms:

    There’s nothing really similar to Pink Floyd’s use of “tape loop” found before the arrival of digital sampling in the 1980s.

    Many tracks, though, have the idea of a “tape loop” as an intro and a background track.

    Terry Riley 1969 "Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band" track [Youtube].

    Robert Fripp and Brian Eno 1973 “Swastika Girls” track [Youtube].

     

    Identifiers:

    Time-accurate repeated segment of recorded material.

     

    Method's history and decision-making in studio:

    Although Pink Floyd did not invent “tape loop” method, they definitely pioneered its use as a “guide track” [BBC] in popular music production. Terry Riley used “tape loops” as a base for his compositions since late 1950s [Synthtopia], but only in experimental, “free form” music. Robert Fripp and Brian Eno elaborated on Riley’s ideas in their 1973 album “No Pussyfooting”. Many other musicians (The Beatles, Can, Gong etc.) used “tape loops”, but not in the same way as Pink Floyd.

    The idea of “looped” intro belongs to the song’s author Roger Waters [BBC], who was Pink Floyd’s co-producer together with David Gilmore. According to Alan Parsons (sound engineer at this session) Waters played a role more that of a "director"[Lambert]. Waters created the original loop at his home-studio [BBC]. Nick Mason also claims his participation in the creation (drilling coins) [Mason: 171].

    The only way to create a stable (without significant time-shifting) loop was to physically measure the tape with a ruler and cut seven equal pieces of tape [Lambert]. Those joined together segments were looped between two reel recorders.

    Other source of information tells that the original loop was re-recorded and that the five (not seven) pieces of tape were cut and circled the studio held by microphone stands [Blake: 185].

    There are indications that communications between the band leaders (Waters and Gilmore) as well as between them and technical personal and between technicians were not always easy. Gilmore and Waters had their particular sonic preferences they wanted to implement. Gilmore requested a mix supervisor Chris Thomas [Harris: 105] to participate and Thomas had to deal with often disagreeing band leaders, although, as Thomas points out they were usually asking for the same thing in different terms [Harris: 91] [Blake: 200]. Discussions went on also between Thomas and Parsons. According to Parsons, Thomas wanted “to compress” everything, which Parsons actively opposed [Massey: 116]. Parsons also opposed the use of Dolby reduction on the first generation of recording, which band insisted on  [Massey: 114]. Parsons, by his own words considered himself to be "a new breed of engineers that didn’t mind making criticisms or suggestions that would normally be made by a producer" [Blake: 183].

    As Parson recalls:” “The first week was almost disastrous” [Harris: 91]. But when the team established their line of work, everyone contributed to the success of the track and the "Dark Side Of The Moon" album as a whole. Yet even when the things went well, the band rarely expressed enthusiasm, "very low-key, very calm" recording sessions according to Parsons [Blake: 185] .

    Creative suggestions were taken from technical personal too: e.g. Chris Thomas suggested to add more guitar to the track [Harris: 103] [Blake: 198], while Gilmore's ideas found their way into mixing domain: he came up with the "no reverb" part of the song [BBC]. Band members and technicians participated in mixdown together, "there was no automation, so, all hands were on the mix" [BBC]. Roles between engineer, and producer sometimes were blurred on this record [Blake: 199].Not everybody agrees on this: if Mason thinks, that Parsons was an outstanding engineer/producer, who made a viable contribution to the record, Gilmore means, that any good engineer would do [Blake: 200].

     

    Personal comments:

    It is difficult to suggest improvements to one of the most famous and commercially successful rock albums in history. They all had their different views in the studio, but maybe that is exactly what helped them to create an outstanding work. This work is fundamental for modern recording approach on many levels: self-produced album, musicians as experienced home-studio recordists, technicians actively participating in creative process and, of course, the method of recording to a loop [Modern Recording:31], which is probably a de facto standard for majority of music-makers today. Ironically, "Money" was, probably, the most commercially-oriented hit-single from a very commercially successful album, which starts the story of never-ending envy, grievances and bitter financial disputes between the members of the team, who made it.

    "Money, it's a hit... Don't give me that do goody good bullshit" from "Money" Lyrics by Roger Waters.

     

    References:

    Cook, Nicholas (2004) The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.818

    Huber, David Miles/Runstein,Robert E. (2013) Modern recording techniques,Boston : Focal Press, pp. 644

    BBC Documentary: Classic Albums: Pink Floyd - The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon 55:00

    Massey, Howard. (2009) Behind the Glass: Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft the Hits.Backbeat Books, pp.332

    Mason, Nick (2004) Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Illustrated, pp.360

    Harris, John (2006) The Dark Side of the Moon: The Making of the Pink Floyd Masterpiece, Da Capo Press, pp.192

    Blake, Mark (2008) Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story Of Pink Floyd, Da Capo Press, pp.448

    Lambert, Mel (1998) Interview with Alan Parsons http://www.mediaandmarketing.com/13Writer/Interviews/PAR.Alan_Parsons_HFR.html

    Terry Riley On Tape Loops at Synthtopia online http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2015/02/12/terry-riley-on-tape-loops/

    Terry Riley on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF7GUhGeRYU

    Fripp and Eno on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZIl9DKmcrQ

     

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    Comments (9)

    Viewing 9 of 9 comments: view all
    Bra text, Intressant att följa arbetet med lÄten och de olika vÀgval och meningsskiljaktigheter som förekom under framvÀxten av Dark side of the moon. Det framgÄr bland annat hur teknikerna Parson och Thomas hade vÀldigt olika idéer angÄende Dolby-reducering och kompression. Det framkommer Àven att bandet hade motsÀttningar under inspelningsarbetet,gÀllande olika tillvÀgagÄngssÀtt. Det Àr ocksÄ intressant att nÄgra av Pink Floyd medlemmarna arbetade aktivt med hemmagjorda tapeloopar, pÄ liknande vis som The Beatles medlemmarna gjorde under arbetet med Revolver-plattan.
    Posted 11:38, 9 Mar 2015
    Tack för dina kommentarer, Lars!
    Det kan lÄta tokigt, fast sjÀlv upplevde jag först Terry Riley och Eno och bara sedan The Beatles.
    "My lucky escape" :)
    Det fanns dÄ Àven "bandloop" artister som "Gong" och "Can", som knappast inspirerades av "Revolver". Det var,som jag förstÄr, "heta tider", dÀr motsÀgelser har rÄdit över överenskommelser, man ocksÄ ser det jÀmt i Pink Floyds historia. Ibland kÀnner jag att det Àr precis det som saknas i vÄr tid. edited 17:31, 9 Mar 2015
    Posted 17:28, 9 Mar 2015
    Jag har aldrig varit speciellt intresserad av Pink Floyd men det du berÀttar om deras kreativa anvÀndning av tape loops Àr vÀldigt intressant och fÄr mig att vilja nysta lite mer i deras musik. Lagom lÀngd pÄ artikeln ocksÄ tycker jag.
    Posted 12:07, 10 Mar 2015
    VÀldigt intressant. Och som du sa sÄ Àr det svÄrt att hitta saker som kan förbÀttra nÄgot som redan Àr sÄpass bra.
    "If it ainÂŽt broke, donÂŽt fix it"
    Posted 16:58, 10 Mar 2015
    Bra skrivet om en intressant inspelning. Kul att fÄ veta mer om tapeloopen och kul att fÄ veta att första veckan av inspelningen var en katastrof och det resulterade i denna fantastiska skiva.
    Posted 11:26, 12 Mar 2015
    Informativ lÀsning! Intressant att fÄ lÀsa om en av de tidigare anvÀndningarna av sampling! Verkligen intressant att se hur kreativa dessa ljudtekniker har varit med de medel tillgÀngliga för att fÄ ut denna 'tape loop'. Det gör Àven att man kanske skulle gÀrna vilja höra lite mer ingÄende om hur den resterande inspelningen gick till! :)
    Posted 12:48, 13 Mar 2015
    Mycket bra och intressant artikel om den kreativa processen och motsÀttningarna mellan "ego-giganterna" Waters och Gilmore! De alla var och Àr vÀldigt speciella personligheter som sÀllan ger nÄgra glÀdjeyttringar. Att de överhuvudtaget fick producerat nÄt Àr ett under, och att de fick fÀrdigstÀllt detta legendariska album Àr otroligt.
    Posted 10:19, 14 Mar 2015
    Riktigt bra skrivet och vÀldigt informativt! VÀldigt spÀnnande att lÀsa om och bra referenser för vidarelÀsning! Kommer helt klart att se BBC dokumentÀren!
    Posted 13:27, 14 Mar 2015
    VÀldig bra text och historia, det var vÀldig intressant att lÀsa om de problem som de hade med varandra under inspelningen; nÀr man hör den fÀrdiga skivan Àr det svÄrt att tÀnka sig hur mycket arbete eller problem som kunde ha uppstÄtt och sjÀlv klart att mÄste man hitta ett sÀtt att komma överens nÀr man jobbar tillsammans, det hÀnder Àven till de bÀsta musiker.
    Posted 23:16, 22 Mar 2015
    Viewing 9 of 9 comments: view all
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