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Trivia NOW & THEN: The Recordings, Part 1

Which hit song involved the splicing of two rhythm takes in order to make it complete?


  • Total voters
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Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
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As one can imagine, assembling a Carpenters track was no easy feat. It often meant hours and hours in the studio working tirelessly to get just the right take on a particular track, or overdubbing vocals into the wee hours of the morning to achieve just the right blend.

During the taping of the rhythm track for one of the duo's hit singles -- with instrumentation provided by Richard on piano, Karen on drums and Joe Osborn on bass, the scenario arose where the first half of the take sounded perfect to Richard, but not the second half. Upon listening, he felt the trio could go back out into the studio and pick up at the top of the second half, and simply splice the two takes together.

The trouble was, there was no "click" track for reference -- a simple rhythmic meter audible to the musicians during the recording in order to play along in perfect tempo. This would prove to be tricky, to the point where bassist Joe Osborn even pushed back on the idea, saying that it could never be done seamlessly.

Standing around in the control room, all of them waiting for engineer Ray Gerhardt to splice the two takes together, proved to be well worth the effort. As Joe recalled, "We were all standing around the control room waiting for the engineer to put the two takes together, and when he did, it sounded absolutely perfect!"

Which song was was it?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
As Joe said :
"It’s a real testament to Karen’s time, because it cut together perfectly."
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The fact that the track Yesterday Once More cut together so seamlessly is indeed a testament to Karen's timing. A couple of quotes spring to mind:

"As her drum teacher Bill Douglas said, she had good wrists" - Richard Carpenter, 1993

“If there is such a thing as perfect time, she had it,” Osborn adds, using the recording of “Yesterday Once More” as an example. “Richard didn’t like the first half of the track and wanted to rerecord it. They were using 2″ tape and no click track. He insisted they could recut the first half and splice it to the second half. I was very skeptical, but Richard insisted, so we recut it. There is no change in tempo and no way to know. The tempo matched perfectly. It was incredible.” -
Joe Osborne, Modern Drummer Magazine

"It was like a metronome, her time" - Richard Carpenter, 1993
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
The fact that the track Yesterday Once More cut together so seamlessly is indeed a testament to Karen's timing. A couple of quotes spring to mind:

"As her drum teacher Bill Douglas said, she had good wrists" - Richard Carpenter, 1993

“If there is such a thing as perfect time, she had it,” Osborn adds, using the recording of “Yesterday Once More” as an example. “Richard didn’t like the first half of the track and wanted to rerecord it. They were using 2″ tape and no click track. He insisted they could recut the first half and splice it to the second half. I was very skeptical, but Richard insisted, so we recut it. There is no change in tempo and no way to know. The tempo matched perfectly. It was incredible.” - Joe Osborne, Modern Drummer Magazine

"It was like a metronome, her time" - Richard Carpenter, 1993
BINGO!!

Joe and I discussed this particular session as well and he truly didn't think it would meld together as well as it did. And let's face it, it was this very timing that Karen had that made her phrasing so incredibly impeccable. :)
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Chris May, I have a question.
I am trying to imagine the session where Karen (drums), Richard (piano) and Joe (bass)
are performing (tracking) the entire song "Yesterday Once More."
Was Karen singing lead and drumming at that session ? Or, was the rhythm track laid and then she sang the vocal lead
in a different session ? In other words, the only splicing that occurred with this song had to do with instrumentalization,
not any splicing (editing) involving Karen's lead vocal ?? The entire process is baffling to me.
What could Richard have heard in the 'second half' that compelled him to re-cut only the second part ?
How would Richard not know if the problem lay in the 'first half' ?
Why not re-do the entire entity, instead of one-half or the other ?
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Was Karen singing lead and drumming at that session ? Or, was the rhythm track laid and then she sang the vocal lead in a different session ?
I will let Chris answer the list of questions but I do know that general recording studio protocol would mean Karen never recorded her leads at the same time as laying down the drum tracks, because the sound of the drums would have bled into her mic. The aim of recording is to isolate each track completely so that the recorded source is as "pure" as possible and that there is no background noise or other interference getting in the way. This would mean the final mix is as clean as possible. I'm fairly sure therefore that the splicing would have been the basic instrumental track only, before all the vocal, orchestral and percussive overdubs went on - but I will let Chris confirm :)
 
Last edited:

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
I am trying to imagine the session where Karen (drums), Richard (piano) and Joe (bass)
are performing (tracking) the entire song "Yesterday Once More."
Was Karen singing lead and drumming at that session ? Or, was the rhythm track laid and then she sang the vocal lead
in a different session ?
Stephen is correct -- Karen would not have been singing along while she was playing, as her vocals would have been recorded right along with drum tracks, and locked in. This would have made a huge mess when the time came for her to cut the (final) master lead, because you would have had two conflicting lead vocals audible in the playback, one of which you could never get rid of (the vocal leaking into the drum mics).

In other words, the only splicing that occurred with this song had to do with instrumentalization,
not any splicing (editing) involving Karen's lead vocal ?? The entire process is baffling to me.
What could Richard have heard in the 'second half' that compelled him to re-cut only the second part ?
How would Richard not know if the problem lay in the 'first half' ?
Why not re-do the entire entity, instead of one-half or the other ?
This is common practice when, let's say for instance, something related to either the "feel" of the take was lost, or perhaps the musicians rushed the second half, where you would consider re-doing some or all of the take. In this particular instance, it's likely that they were already quite a few takes in just to get the first half exactly the way they wanted it. Rather than lose that, Richard may have only wanted to focus on recutting the second half to save the work that had already been done. Make sense?

It's more or less the same thing that happened with "Do You Hear What I Hear?," among others. :)
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Thanks, Chris ! ...."among others" ... Gee, how many "others" are there ?
If I recall correctly, Merry Christmas Darling (1970 version) does not fit into that category, yet, it is flawless.
Doesn't the prospect of those "others" detract somewhat from the rawness of their performances ?
Too much perfection in those studio sessions underscores the derision coming from certain critics regarding their music:
given too much "studio magic," one can hardly tell what is 'real' and what is altered.
 
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