The composition, Something, was written by George Harrison and first published by the Beatles in 1969, in the album Abbey Road. The performers on this studio album were Harrison on rhythm guitar, Lennon on piano, McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on drums, and guest musician Billy Preston playing Hammond organ. The actual recording of the studio version started on 5 May, at Olympic Sound Studios.
In this 3rd article of music production techniques, I further share with you tips and ideas on how to make your studio recording much more engaging, interesting, as a consequence of delivering the emotional intensity of your arrangement in a extremely pleasing manner.
An example of how to create intensity in a musical production
As a musical producer and arranger, I am constantly concerned in maintaining a good flow in all recorded work. I perceive flow as the musical lubricant that maintains my constant attention of the recorded song from start to finish. If there is no flow I loose attention and have the urge to do or listen to something else.
This sound recording and music production of, Something by George Harrison, represents a good example of how to maintain the listener’s attention by organised and logical use of variations of intensity.
If you believe your song looses interest when you repeat the verse or chorus, most probably it will be because of poor arranging techniques that are the tools you must use to maintain a good flow.
The climax of a song
As an arranger, it is important in any music production to create a musical story line that leads to and from the climax of the song. A climax is the point of maximum intensity of the arrangement of a song. Listeners get hooked on this expectation of maximum emotion, they are waiting for it, and it is your job to tease them and lead them to ecstasy.
Songs and their recording productions should have only one climax. All the interpretation and arranging put into it, should outline an emotional contour that leads to the point of maximum tension of a song.
If you do not plan accordingly, then the listener will loose interest and not like as much your song. Strive to record the song aiming for a climax.
How to achieve a climax
Generally speaking, it is the role of the interpreter of the melody to achieve the climax. The accompaniment will merely help the lead melodic line flow towards this musical goal.
You will achieve a climax by creating tension through register, harmonic tension and rhythmic density. As a performer of the melody you will possibly, in a natural manner, feel and figure out on your own, what to do to achieve intensity.
However, a musical producer and or arranger, will need more than instinct to organise the band ´s playing, to achieve the climax in relation to the melody. The more knowledgeable you are in arranging and music production techniques, the more powerful the live or recorded band sound will be .
You will not achieve a climax by playing louder or screaming. You and the whole band need to play and organise the harmonic and melodic background accordingly. In my book on arranging and orchestration techniques, I go into extreme detail on how to achieve this goal in any arrangement of any song, in any style and format.
What happens if you do not aim for a climax?
If a song does not have a climax then we should aim for achieving another form of involvement with the listeners, which I call the trance. Listeners fall into a mental and emotional trance with loops of harmony, chords and or rhythm.
A loop will be a musical exact constant repetition of some sort. When we listen to a repetition, after a few times, we gradually fail to hear any differences in the interpretation. Therefore, we naturally fall into a state of numbness which is some sort of static primal pleasure. Hence the boom of looped music as electronic music, or even pop artists.
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Is a trance good for the soul?
Personally I believe that as a short term distraction, it will feel relaxing but since life is a constant evolving pulsation, I prefer the more human approach of imperfection, which is a more natural reflection of what our existence is about.
In summary, if you have good musical skills you naturally move away from trances, and if you have poor musical skills you will have no choice but to use the trance or loop, to achieve a somewhat listenable musical production.
The climax in Something, Music Production Techniques Rhythmic density
George Martin was a very skilled arranger and producer. Please listen to each repeating section of the song, and try to identify what he chooses to do to achieve a gradual increase in the intensity of the song, that leads to the climax in the B section, which coincides with the modulation to the key of A.
Have you noticed, how as we get towards the climax the rhythm becomes more intense?
How do they achieve an increase in rhythmic density
In the first section A, the overall feel of all rhythm is of the quarter note.
In the repetition of the section A, the overall feel, of all rhythm, is of the16th note. In the section B, where the song modulates to A major, the overall rhythmic feel leans more towards the 32th notes. All the performers and also the arrangement follow this overall feel.
More climax seeking music production techniques:
The best arrangers and music producers are also very aware of how harmony, if used correctly, can also be a powerful ally to help achieve the desired musical climax.
A vocal line harmonised correctly can be as intense as a powerful belting solo voice. Please listen to the B section of the song and hear how the thin vocal becomes powerful through harmonising the melody.
Also, please take note that sustained harmony against sustained harmony will not work effectively. So, if the vocal line is harmonised, the background should be more melodic and much less harmonic .
Notice how George Martin, as producer and arranger, uses the strings to create intensity in this section focusing more on background lines in unison or octaves, to aid the intensity strategy.
Once again, listen to this recording and notice how the register of the strings arrangement increases as the sections pass. In the B section of the song, the strings are in the high register interpreting the background lines that George Martin wrote.
Craft versus technology
I personally strive for all songs to impress and entertain the audience by delivering to them a good melody, harmony, arrangement and performance.
As a producer, when I take on a project I tend to think of the recording process, as just a set of tools to help deliver the song to the audience. You do not need many tools to get a good recording. If you believe an album as Abbey Road recorded with very basic technology, is engaging and emotional to impress generations to come, then start thinking more on your craft and less on the technology to record.
If you have a good song, well performed and arranged, then with very little money you can get your hit. Spend your money and time on craft and not on technology.
In all my musical productions, I strive to bring out the most impressive interpretation of all band members parts. I will also help you arrange your song so as to get the most impacting recorded version with proper use of music production techniques.
Once we start recording you will be soon be aware of what works well and what does not. Together we will recreate your song and fine tune all individual parts to make sure they target the desired emotional contour your song deserves.
Your song is my business
My roles as an arranger and producer, is to aid you in making sure that your performance arrangement and sound recording, is the perfect match to the feeling and sound you and your song needs.
My Songwriting Music Production services are here to help you transform your beloved inspiration into your masterpiece. Therefore, if you wish to be unique and believe that uniqueness is the virtue that will make you shine in the crowd then I can help you. If you feel good when you are unique and wish to make your songs reflect your special message, then I will help you with how to write a song, that will be your unique world class contribution.
My music production services are not only about how to record, mix or enhance a performance, as this type of service can be found in most top recording studios. Therefore together, we will fine tune your lyrics, chords, bass lines, groove, background lines, emotional contour, timbre, flow and then record, overdub and mix to industry standards.
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