Saturday, November 7, 2015

"A Day In the Life" Orchestra Session

On February 10 1967, The Beatles and some of their friends made an event out of the recording of a 40 piece orchestra overdub for one of their songs: "A Day In the Life". The orchestra was hired to play a low note on their instruments and move up to the highest note they could muster in a set period of time without following each other. This is a very unorthodox task and very difficult to do as most orchestras "gel" together and rarely to they play as individuals but complement their sections by playing as a group and being "tight" timing wise.
By this time, The Beatles had worked on "A Day In the Life" with Paul re-doing his middle bridge section and adding the "ah" part between his section and the third verse (sounding very much like Lennon). The drums and bass were also re-recorded with an entire different performance from the earlier take with Ringo adding his signature fills as released on the commercial version we all know and love.
The orchestral overdub was conducted in Studio One of EMI Studios with Paul McCartney "conducting" the orchestra. The musicians were asked to wear various prank costume effects and it was more of a party atmosphere than a regular recording sessions. Bubbles, noisemakers, colourful costumes took it all to a new level !!
The two four-track machines were synced up and four of the tracks were used. The orchestra overdubbed themselves four times although they probably didn't know it and thought they were rehearsing a couple of takes. The four track filled, this would be mixed into take seven of the final version of the song when released in mono and stereo on the "Pepper" LP.
A good way to hear this is an the 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2" as part of the various takes within the track, but I've found a youtube link that has the orchestra also you may want to move your spot as it only comes in half way through the song - as you all well know.

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