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Work Lead, Piano, Bass & Drums

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ringves

Active Member
Thread Starter
My understanding is that the starting point for most Carpenters' recordings involved 4 basic tracks: Karen's work lead, piano, bass & drums - all recorded on separate tracks. Richard would then add additional instrumentation; R&K would record background vocals; and finally, Karen would re-record her lead.

I can understand how this would work for those recording sessions where Karen did NOT play the drums. But how would this work for the Offering sessions or the Now & Then sessions?

For these particular sessions, perhaps the starting point was simply Karen's work lead, piano and bass. Obviously Karen could not have recorded her drum track while singing, as this would have affected the purity of the drum track.

Does anyone have any knowledge as to how the order of recording would have been impacted by Karen's playing the drums?
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Staff member
Moderator
Always when Karen played drums, the work leads did not go down. The tracks were occasionally "clicked" if necessary, and the arrangement was played instrumentally.

I think it's also worth noting that when the Carpenters overdubbed to the "track" (that definition being the bass, piano and drums), everything was recorded one instrument at a time (i.e. additional keyboards, woodwinds, etc) unless of course you had a string or horn date where there was an orchestral pad being recorded, requiring multiple musicians; which was the case on just about every song.

In the early days, ("OFFERING" thru "NOW & THEN"), they used 16 string players per chart (10 violins/3 viola/3 cello). As time went on and they switched from 16 track recording to 24 track, and eventually paired two 24 track machines together, they would of course voice the strings much larger, requiring even more musicians.

Outside of that, as I mentioned above, each instrument was recorded one at a time to prevent leakage. Richard and Karen were definitely studio "animals". The best in the biz in
my opinion. -Chris
 

ringves

Active Member
Thread Starter
Thanks for explaining, Chris.

Recording the piano, bass & drums without any vocals as a guide must have been a challenge. Presumably Richard would have worked out the basics of his arrangement (vocal and instrumental) before the tape even rolled.

The whole process must have been a lot easier and quicker when Karen wasn't playing the drums.
 
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