The composition “Something” was written by George Harrison and first published by the Beatles in 1969 on the album “Abbey Road.” The performers on this studio album included Harrison on rhythm guitar, Lennon on piano, McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on drums, and guest musician Billy Preston playing the Hammond organ. The actual recording of the studio version began on May 5th at Olympic Sound Studios.
The Essence of Flow in Music Production
As a music producer and arranger, I am consistently focused on maintaining a smooth flow in all my recorded work. I view flow as the musical lubricant that keeps my unwavering attention on the recorded song from beginning to end. When there’s no flow, my attention wanes, and I’m tempted to switch to something else.
This sound recording and music production of George Harrison’s “Something” serves as an excellent example of how to sustain the listener’s interest through organized and logical variations in intensity.
If you find that your song loses its appeal when you repeat the verse or chorus, it’s likely due to inadequate arranging techniques, which are the tools you must employ to ensure a seamless flow.
Crafting Musical Climaxes
As an arranger, it’s crucial in any music production to craft a musical storyline that guides the listener to and from the song’s climax. The climax represents the peak of intensity within the arrangement. Listeners eagerly anticipate this moment of maximum emotion, and it’s your role to tantalize and guide them toward ecstasy.
Songs and their recording productions should feature a singular climax. All the interpretation and arrangement work should trace an emotional trajectory that culminates in the zenith of the song’s tension.
Failure to plan accordingly can result in the listener losing interest and not enjoying your song as much. Aim to record the song with a well-defined climax in mind.
Crafting Musical Climaxes: A Guide for Performers and Producers
In the realm of music, it’s typically the interpreter’s role to reach the climax of the melody, with the accompaniment serving to guide the lead melodic line toward this musical pinnacle.
Achieving a climax involves skillfully building tension through elements such as register, harmonic complexity, and rhythmic density. As a melody performer, you may naturally discover ways to infuse intensity into the music.
However, for a musical producer or arranger, achieving the climax in relation to the melody demands more than instinct alone. Your depth of knowledge in arranging and music production techniques can significantly enhance the impact of the live or recorded band.
Contrary to common belief, reaching a climax doesn’t require playing louder or resorting to screaming. It necessitates a coordinated effort from both you and the entire band to harmonize the melodic and harmonic backdrop effectively. In my book on arranging and orchestration techniques, I delve into intricate details on how to achieve this objective in any song arrangement, regardless of style or format
What Happens If You Do Not Aim for a Climax?
If a song does not have a climax, then we should aim to achieve 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 among pop artists.
The Choice Between Perfection and Imperfection in Music
Personally, I believe that as a short-term distraction, it will feel relaxing, but since life is a constantly 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
Let’s Analyse the Climax in “Something”
In Something, Music Production Techniques, and Rhythmic Density
George Martin was a highly 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 song’s intensity. This progression leads to the climax in the B section, which coincides with the modulation to the key of A.
Have you noticed how, as we approach the climax, the rhythm becomes more intense?
How Do They Achieve an Increase in Rhythmic Density
In the first section (Section A), the predominant rhythmic feel is characterized by quarter notes.
In the repetition of Section A, the overall rhythmic feel shifts to emphasize 16th notes.
During Section B, where the song modulates to A major, the rhythmic feel becomes more pronounced with 32nd notes.
All performers and the arrangement align with and follow this evolving rhythmic feel.
Harmony’s Role in Achieving Musical Climax
The best arrangers and music producers are also very aware of how harmony, if used correctly, can be a powerful ally in achieving the desired musical climax.
A vocal line harmonized 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 harmonizing the melody.
Also, please take note that sustained harmony against sustained harmony will not work effectively. So, if the vocal line is harmonized, the background should be more melodic and much less harmonic.
Notice how George Martin, as a 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.
Listen to this recording once more, and observe how the register of the strings arrangement ascends as the sections progress. In the B section of the song, the strings reside in the high register as they interpret the background lines composed by George Martin.
Craft Over Technology: The Path to Timeless Music Production
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 merely a set of tools to help deliver the song to the audience. You do not need many tools to achieve a good recording. If you consider that an album like ‘Abbey Road,’ recorded with very basic technology, continues to engage and emotionally impress generations to come, then start focusing more on your craft and less on the technology used for recording.
If you have a good song, well-performed and arranged, then with very little money, you can create a hit. Invest your money and time in your craft, not just in technology.
Thank you for reading, and I hope this article has provided insights into adding emotional craft to your productions.
This article explores music production techniques using George Harrison’s “Something” as a case study. Key takeaways include:
- The Essence of Flow: Emphasizes the importance of a smooth flow in music production and arranging techniques.
- Crafting Musical Climaxes: Discusses crafting storylines leading to climaxes, planning, and the roles of interpreters and producers.
- What Happens Without a Climax: Explores listener involvement through loops and repetition in music.
- Perfection vs. Imperfection: Advocates for accepting imperfection and its relevance in music production.
- Analyzing the Climax: Focuses on techniques used by George Martin and rhythmic density.
- Harmony’s Role: Highlights harmony’s importance in intensifying music and contrasts in background elements.
- Register: Observes changing register in the arrangement.
- Craft Over Technology: Promotes prioritizing craftsmanship over technology in