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652772 Posts in 26083 Topics by 3718 Members - Latest Member: CarlWilsonFan101 December 10, 2019, 12:27:58 AM
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Author Topic: Beach Boys Orchestration Web Series  (Read 4242 times)
JK
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« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2019, 07:27:31 AM »

I've put together a low-production value preview video to get the ball rolling and give people at least something to watch while I organize to do the first episode properly.  I hope you enjoy it.

https://youtu.be/TPJqtfJ-MwU

Took another look this morning. I like your relaxed yet purposeful manner. The informal setting fits it perfectly. Of course you may have other plans for the series proper but this has a great ambience. What a staggering array of instruments you play!  Shocked
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« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2019, 12:33:37 PM »

Love it, I like how there's a bit on each instrument

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« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2019, 06:15:49 PM »

Thanks!

And I also think that tuned percussion (and exotic percussion in general) is a great idea for a show.  No lack of interesting uses of Marimba, Vibes, Xylophone, Glock, etc. 

Not to mention temple blocks...which may not technically fall in the category of tuned percussion, however I think the argument can be made that in Brian's case, they do - along with the plastic orange juice cups - 'cause of they way he uses them (two tones, or more, in the case of "GOK").

It was the temple blocks in "IJWMFTT" that gave me the idea! I still swear the second note in that sequence is two played simultaneously...


OK, so let's talk "found percussion" since it's been brought up.

When we talk about orange juice containers on GOK, are we talking about cartons?  Believe it or not, I have researched how orange juice was sold over the decades, and it seems to me that commercially available potables were not sold in plastic containers before the early 70s.  Does this jibe with people's memories?

Along those lines, would the Sparklett's jug for Caroline No have indeed been glass?

Folks, this is what keeps me up nights.  And with your contributions, I might be able to track down some period appropriate orange juice containers, sparkletts jugs, and coke cans to use on an episode!!!
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« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2019, 06:16:41 PM »

Really looking forward to these! For an episode idea, I'd love something breaking down the Time to Get Alone arrangement. Probably one of Brian's most unique productions in the way the instrumentation constantly switches up in each section via a mountain of different overdubs.

Yes, it would be cool to show how the different keyboards play off each other, especially.
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JK
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« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2019, 02:00:35 AM »

OK, so let's talk "found percussion" since it's been brought up.

When we talk about orange juice containers on GOK, are we talking about cartons?  Believe it or not, I have researched how orange juice was sold over the decades, and it seems to me that commercially available potables were not sold in plastic containers before the early 70s.  Does this jibe with people's memories?

Along those lines, would the Sparklett's jug for Caroline No have indeed been glass?

Folks, this is what keeps me up nights.  And with your contributions, I might be able to track down some period appropriate orange juice containers, sparkletts jugs, and coke cans to use on an episode!!!

I can think of worse ways of spending the wee wee hours. Tongue

Maybe my spies have screwed up this time but it seems the plastic water bottle was patented in 1973:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Wyeth_(inventor)

Assuming Sparkletts bottles also held soda water in the mid '60s, and assuming that jug is synonymous with bottle, I'd say the chances of Hal's jug being made of glass are pretty good.

I have yet to find a water jug (at eBay or whatever) with a date any more specific than "1960s"...
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 06:53:09 AM by JK » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: November 11, 2019, 07:09:58 AM »

Really looking forward to these! For an episode idea, I'd love something breaking down the Time to Get Alone arrangement. Probably one of Brian's most unique productions in the way the instrumentation constantly switches up in each section via a mountain of different overdubs.

Yes, it would be cool to show how the different keyboards play off each other, especially.

Just so we're on the same page... detuned grand piano / tack piano / harpsichord / Baldwin organ ?

One sound I rarely see mentioned is the odd fuzzy tone playing sustained notes during the chorus, apparently Danny Hutton's Wurlitzer electric piano through a damaged speaker. Could be an interesting experiment to try and approximate! And the upright piano with tape on the strings that shows up later on the song, which if you listen reeeeeally closely is there right from the beginning but ducked low in the mix. Lotta simultaneous keyboard action.
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« Reply #31 on: November 11, 2019, 07:20:40 AM »

Thanks!

And I also think that tuned percussion (and exotic percussion in general) is a great idea for a show.  No lack of interesting uses of Marimba, Vibes, Xylophone, Glock, etc.  

Not to mention temple blocks...which may not technically fall in the category of tuned percussion, however I think the argument can be made that in Brian's case, they do - along with the plastic orange juice cups - 'cause of they way he uses them (two tones, or more, in the case of "GOK").

It was the temple blocks in "IJWMFTT" that gave me the idea! I still swear the second note in that sequence is two played simultaneously...


OK, so let's talk "found percussion" since it's been brought up.

When we talk about orange juice containers on GOK, are we talking about cartons?  Believe it or not, I have researched how orange juice was sold over the decades, and it seems to me that commercially available potables were not sold in plastic containers before the early 70s.  Does this jibe with people's memories?

Along those lines, would the Sparklett's jug for Caroline No have indeed been glass?

Folks, this is what keeps me up nights.  And with your contributions, I might be able to track down some period appropriate orange juice containers, sparkletts jugs, and coke cans to use on an episode!!!


More found percussion if that's gonna be a topic: The clinking glasses in the Cabin Essence tag (Brian calls them the "little bell goodies"), obligatory celery, real bamboo and metallic wind chimes on Smiley's Wind Chimes. The use of a brake drum to get an anvil-like sound occasionally shows up on Smile material too, namely Fire, the H&V chorus, one of the H&V chants, and Vegetables. Plus my favourite - Carl briefly using some grass shears (!) in the Vegetables fade!
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 07:26:33 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #32 on: November 11, 2019, 08:02:48 AM »

Thanks!

And I also think that tuned percussion (and exotic percussion in general) is a great idea for a show.  No lack of interesting uses of Marimba, Vibes, Xylophone, Glock, etc.  

Not to mention temple blocks...which may not technically fall in the category of tuned percussion, however I think the argument can be made that in Brian's case, they do - along with the plastic orange juice cups - 'cause of they way he uses them (two tones, or more, in the case of "GOK").

It was the temple blocks in "IJWMFTT" that gave me the idea! I still swear the second note in that sequence is two played simultaneously...


OK, so let's talk "found percussion" since it's been brought up.

When we talk about orange juice containers on GOK, are we talking about cartons?  Believe it or not, I have researched how orange juice was sold over the decades, and it seems to me that commercially available potables were not sold in plastic containers before the early 70s.  Does this jibe with people's memories?

Along those lines, would the Sparklett's jug for Caroline No have indeed been glass?

Folks, this is what keeps me up nights.  And with your contributions, I might be able to track down some period appropriate orange juice containers, sparkletts jugs, and coke cans to use on an episode!!!


More found percussion if that's gonna be a topic: The clinking glasses in the Cabin Essence tag (Brian calls them the "little bell goodies"), obligatory celery, real bamboo and metallic wind chimes on Smiley's Wind Chimes. The use of a brake drum to get an anvil-like sound occasionally shows up on Smile material too, namely Fire, the H&V chorus, one of the H&V chants, and Vegetables. Plus my favourite - Carl briefly using some grass shears (!) in the Vegetables fade!


Frankie Capp's keys on Surf's Up.
Bicycle bell on You Still Believe In Be.
Hal's ashtrays on Barbara Ann. 

Hope these weren't previously mentioned...
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« Reply #33 on: November 11, 2019, 08:20:00 AM »

Thanks!

And I also think that tuned percussion (and exotic percussion in general) is a great idea for a show.  No lack of interesting uses of Marimba, Vibes, Xylophone, Glock, etc. 

Not to mention temple blocks...which may not technically fall in the category of tuned percussion, however I think the argument can be made that in Brian's case, they do - along with the plastic orange juice cups - 'cause of they way he uses them (two tones, or more, in the case of "GOK").

It was the temple blocks in "IJWMFTT" that gave me the idea! I still swear the second note in that sequence is two played simultaneously...


OK, so let's talk "found percussion" since it's been brought up.

When we talk about orange juice containers on GOK, are we talking about cartons?  Believe it or not, I have researched how orange juice was sold over the decades, and it seems to me that commercially available potables were not sold in plastic containers before the early 70s.  Does this jibe with people's memories?

Along those lines, would the Sparklett's jug for Caroline No have indeed been glass?

Folks, this is what keeps me up nights.  And with your contributions, I might be able to track down some period appropriate orange juice containers, sparkletts jugs, and coke cans to use on an episode!!!


Interesting questions!  There's an NPR interview with Hal - it may still be available in their archive - where he talks about the plastic orange juice cups, and IIRC, he said they came from a vending machine. He cut them at different lengths to get the desired pitches (and obviously allowed Jim Gordon to play them on "GOK", since he was occupied with the sleighbells and drum kit on that session). So maybe you could only get cartons in the store at the time, but if  you bought them from  a machine, they came in plastic?

Regarding Sparkletts, Dennis once described (to Timothy White in Crawdaddy, IIRC) carrying a glass Sparkletts jug in the backyard while stoned, and dropping it on his foot. He cut the tendon in his foot, requiring stiches, after which his toes only moved in tandem (Dennis should not have been allowed around glass while drunk/stoned, especially after slicing his forearm up good in '71 - the accident that resulted in a temporary inability to play the drums!). Presumably, this backyard accident was in the mid-'70s, and the Sparkletts jug was glass. Plus, Brian played a Sparkletts jug with a mallet for the percussion on "Take A Load Off Your Feet" a few years earlier, and that was said to be glass (the 5-gallon variety, to be exact). Therefore, I would lean toward the Sparkletts sound on "Caroline, No" emanating from a glass jug, too!
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« Reply #34 on: November 11, 2019, 08:59:00 AM »

I'm still trying to imagine what these orange juice things were.  It seems to me, from the limited info I can dig up, that although carbonated beverages were not bottled in plastic until the 70s, flat beverages were starting to be bottled around 67?  It's possible that it was happening earlier. 

Otherwise, a vending machine surely would have sold cardboard cartons or glass bottles of juice?





Is it possible Hal (may his soul be at rest) was thinking about the concentrate cans?



You could cut those down a bit and I bet it would change the pitch...slightly?
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« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2019, 10:01:38 AM »

Well, in the short but thick "Making Of Pet Sounds" booklet included in the Capitol box set, Hal gets pretty specific: he talks about the orange-juice bottle percussion: "There were the 'famous' orange bottles. We used to drink orange juice out of the vending machines. I took three of these small six or eight ounce plastic orange drink bottles, and I cut them down to three different sizes in length. And I taped 'em together, and I used a little vibraphone mallet. Brian loved that kind of stuff. Just different sounds."
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« Reply #36 on: November 11, 2019, 10:19:42 AM »

Well, in the short but thick "Making Of Pet Sounds" booklet included in the Capitol box set, Hal gets pretty specific: he talks about the orange-juice bottle percussion: "There were the 'famous' orange bottles. We used to drink orange juice out of the vending machines. I took three of these small six or eight ounce plastic orange drink bottles, and I cut them down to three different sizes in length. And I taped 'em together, and I used a little vibraphone mallet. Brian loved that kind of stuff. Just different sounds."

So if potables were't commercially available in plastic bottles by early '66, we may have to rethink things.  Interesting.
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« Reply #37 on: November 11, 2019, 04:55:44 PM »

Fascinating and dare I say essential stuff, everyone here should chip in to support this series. I remember plastic orange juice bottles in vending machines as a kid in the early-mid 60s--precisely because you couldn't get them any other way at the time. I don't recall cardboard in vending machines, however, probably because the process of ejecting them from the vending machine could have violent enough to tear even coated cardboard.

Forgive me if this has been mentioned already...but I hope that a good amount of attention will be paid to combining instrumental sounds (which I think will be all over the "unique guitar sound"  sections). A chronological approach (which I think is what's being intimated...) for this would be fascinating to listen to in sequence, and it might be interesting to try a "what would this combination sound like if it were used in another context"...to show how Brian found sounds that fit the mood of very specific songs and why they seem not to get repeated on subsequent songs very often.
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« Reply #38 on: November 11, 2019, 08:03:46 PM »

I remember plastic orange juice bottles in vending machines as a kid in the early-mid 60s--precisely because you couldn't get them any other way at the time. I don't recall cardboard in vending machines, however, probably because the process of ejecting them from the vending machine could have violent enough to tear even coated cardboard.


Do you remember what they were like?  I'm just curious, beside the musicological point, what plastic bottles for drinks were like before High Density #2 plastic became feasible.  I'd imagine that orange juice presented a similar issue to soda, but instead of because of pressure, because of acid? 
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« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2019, 07:15:15 AM »

Question for Craig on the TTGA topic (not that anyone's still talking about it but...I'm curious): is that one of the ones you got to hear the tracking session for? I'd assumed the basic track was Brian on the muted piano, due to it being the only consistent instrument through the whole song and also featuring in the 'untitled Redwood' early takes, but I wasn't sure if that carried over to the master since it's played with a different pattern and I hadn't seen a mention of it elsewhere.

I'm also confused about the roles of the two bass players. One of those alternate takes has someone strumming quarter notes on what sounds like a 6-string - could that have been put down first on the master by either Ray or Ron and then replaced by the other with the standard line during overdubs?
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« Reply #40 on: November 12, 2019, 08:34:23 AM »

If there is an orange juice tapping sound, is it what I can hear in the background of this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCq3npjR9Mg&t=2m5s
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« Reply #41 on: November 12, 2019, 08:51:47 AM »

If there is an orange juice tapping sound, is it what I can hear in the background of this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCq3npjR9Mg&t=2m5s

That is the theory, yeah.  I'm not convinced, though.
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« Reply #42 on: November 12, 2019, 09:43:57 AM »

If there is an orange juice tapping sound, is it what I can hear in the background of this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCq3npjR9Mg&t=2m5s

That is the theory, yeah.  I'm not convinced, though.

Indeed. That sounds wooden to me. Though I know almost nothing about percussion!
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« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2019, 10:36:52 AM »

I remember plastic orange juice bottles in vending machines as a kid in the early-mid 60s--precisely because you couldn't get them any other way at the time. I don't recall cardboard in vending machines, however, probably because the process of ejecting them from the vending machine could have violent enough to tear even coated cardboard.


Do you remember what they were like?  I'm just curious, beside the musicological point, what plastic bottles for drinks were like before High Density #2 plastic became feasible.  I'd imagine that orange juice presented a similar issue to soda, but instead of because of pressure, because of acid? 

Just an FYI - These topics have been discussed here previously and if there may be some info to be found to add to the discussion, let me know and I'll post the links. If anyone cares. Because I remember researching and writing about the juice/milk/water containers 8-9 years ago and discussing it with people here.

Just a few bits from my research and memory: There were cardboard milk cartons in vending machines, I believe since the 1950's or at least early 60's. One of the reasons why is that local and regional dairy farms and suppliers who supplied the stock to fill these machines would produce usually several flavors of milk, along with fruit drinks like orange, grape, etc. These would be the cartons or bottles you'd get in the machines.

So keep that in mind: Orange *drink* versus orange juice. It may help the research for those doing it to narrow the parameters. Orange drink was different than orange juice obviously, and could be packaged differently. Confusingly Hal mentions "orange juice" and "orange drink" in the same comment, but they're not the same. However dairies would sell orange drink alongside their milk flavors in these machines during this time.

From a previous discussion, I only remember getting plastic juice/drink bottles as a kid in the form of "Little Hug" barrel-shaped plastic bottles full of fruit-flavored drink. These had a foil cap you'd peel off. What I found out was the "Little Hug" drinks came out shortly before I was born, and coincidentally around the same time they perfected plastic bottles enough to hold carbonated sodas and other acidic liquids which led to the 2-liter soda bottle. These - as far as I know - were not available in the 1960's though. Coke did their first plastic 2-liters in 1973 I believe, just like the Little Hug bottles.

So what were the musicians drinking out of those vending machines in 1966? I'm going out on a limb and suggesting if it were dairy sourced, like milk or these orange/grape/etc "drinks", they were in cartons or less frequently by 1966 small glass bottles.

Re: Sparkletts water bottles: These were glass until the 70's or even the 80's depending on location. We were still getting glass spring water bottles until 1986 or so at my house. Yet it still sounds for all the world to my ears on Caroline No like a percussion mallet hitting a plastic jug. Who knows.

Any more questions about this, please keep 'em coming, because my ears hear what the history of the drink packaging industry and vending machine technology doesn't seem to back up. I hear pretty much what Hal described, namely the sound of plastic being struck with a mallet. Yet, plastic disposable drink containers and bottles didn't seem to be all that prevalent if they existed at all in 1966. It was mostly glass or cardboard stocked in those vending machines.

"PLASTICS!!!" - The Graduate, 1967.

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« Reply #44 on: November 12, 2019, 10:40:09 AM »

Is the Caroline, No sound the one right at the beginning of the track?
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« Reply #45 on: November 12, 2019, 10:44:20 AM »

Question for Craig on the TTGA topic (not that anyone's still talking about it but...I'm curious): is that one of the ones you got to hear the tracking session for? I'd assumed the basic track was Brian on the muted piano, due to it being the only consistent instrument through the whole song and also featuring in the 'untitled Redwood' early takes, but I wasn't sure if that carried over to the master since it's played with a different pattern and I hadn't seen a mention of it elsewhere.

I'm also confused about the roles of the two bass players. One of those alternate takes has someone strumming quarter notes on what sounds like a 6-string - could that have been put down first on the master by either Ray or Ron and then replaced by the other with the standard line during overdubs?

Since I wrote this back in 2005 before you came on board, you may have missed it, but thought this analysis I did of Time To Get Alone may be of interest. Maybe not as specific on the bass parts, but perhaps some other elements that are of interest are pointed out. And maybe it will inspire more of the in-depth digging that is being brought up in this thread overall:

This links directly to the repost of the original piece:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,22224.msg526277.html#msg526277

I wrote this piece in early 2005 about the song. This is the piece exactly as I had it saved in my files. Chalk up any errors or overlooks to youthful exuberance. I hope you find something of interest in it about a truly great song, Time To Get Alone. From March 2005:


----------



I’d recommend listening to the song itself while reading this information, if possible, so the details pointed out in each section will be more clearly heard. Each section analyzed within the song is marked with the exact time.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions!

Craig



The recent discussion about Brian’s post-Smile musical activity, combined with a few mentions of the song Time To Get Alone, was the inspiration for doing something like this. Time To Get Alone has always sounded amazing to me, even comforting in a way, almost sounding like it came from a very inspired place in relation to what was surrounding it at the time of both its creation and its eventual release as a Beach Boys track. The song has characteristics of Brian’s best production work from Pet Sounds and Smile, and would probably have fit perfectly on either one of those projects. However, the song’s history is somewhat mired in controversy, and the role it played during a sad chapter of the Beach Boys’ saga. The song is mostly overlooked as an album track, and I feel it deserves much more recognition than it has received.

In an attempt to answer a few musical questions, and maybe come closer to understanding why this track stands out as it does, I’ve tried to combine a traditional musical analysis with an analysis of the song’s production, including instrumentation, form, rhythm, and other components that created what I consider one of the greatest productions of Brian Wilson’s career. I have purposely not analyzed the lyrical content of the song, except where certain lyrics are closely connected to specific musical concepts.

First Impressions, First Verse (0:00-0:23): Brian has said “All my life I have been fascinated with waltzes.” The most immediate characteristic sound from the opening bars is the ¾ waltz time. That ¾ meter in pop music immediately stands out among the vast majority of songs written in 4/4 time. It instantly sets a mood, establishes a specific groove and feel, and sets certain expectations for the listener. The chord progression is bright and positive, familiar enough to match the warm feeling of the opening lyrics.

Harmonically, the chord progression of the first verse is fairly standard: In the key of D major, the chords are Dmajor (I) - Gmajor(IV) - Eminor(ii) - A7(V7), a very familiar and somewhat ordinary I-IV-ii-V vamp. However, when set in a waltz feel, holding the chords for two measures each, it makes the progression sound anything but ordinary.

Instrumentally, the first verse features some fantastic production ideas. The bass line covers primarily the root notes of the harmonic progression, but is made sonically interesting by the combination of instruments playing the line. There is an electric bass part, played with a pick, that sounds both warm and percussive; then there is a piano part doubling each note played by the electric bass. This piano’s doubling of the electric bass offers both the initial sharper attack on each note, and the more colorful decay of the note after that attack. When combined, the two create almost a new instrument; that combination of sonic textures in the bass is something Brian experimented with on Pet Sounds, and is a technique which has been used extensively in popular music. This bass sound is constant throughout the song.

Vocally, the beautiful melody is double-tracked, with no harmonies or embellishments, and sung in a very friendly and heartfelt tone. This lead vocal is very dry, with no obvious external effects like reverb or delay. The double-tracking here creates a very full sound, and the lack of effects makes the warm delivery of the lyrics seem that much more personal.

The most mind-blowing sound on the track is introduced immediately. What Brian seems to have done is combine four of his most familiar keyboard- and piano-based sounds into a repeating rhythmic and harmonic hook, a part which almost sounds like a loop created with modern digital editing software. Listen closely to the piano part(s): there are four distinct and separate keyboard instruments playing each chord. To my ears, it sounds like the order of instruments is: PIANO, TACK PIANO, HARPSICHORD, and either ACCORDIAN or HARMONIUM. If we’re counting the waltz time as 1-2-3, 1-2-3, the keyboard instruments are assigned one chord each per two-bar harmonic cycle, as follows: 1(bass)-2(piano)-3(tack piano), 1(bass)-2(harpsichord)-3(accordian). The rhythmic and sonic effect created by this arrangement of instruments is incredible, and has to be heard to be fully appreciated. This is a groundbreaking moment of this song’s production which creates an incredible sonic hook, and is a part which a lesser producer or arranger would have assigned to perhaps one keyboard instrument rather than four.

Rhythmically, the drums in the verse are playing simple quarter notes on the hi-hat and hitting the snare on beat 2. The bass and piano double is hitting strong on beat 1, and on the “and” (eighth note) of beat three. That bass pattern, combined with the drums accenting beat 2, and the keyboard “loop” accenting beats 2 and 3, creates a unique rolling feel with no single instrument taking the lead as the rhythmic foundation of the arrangement; rather, each part assumes a vital role in the overall groove. I don’t really hear a kick drum, and it wouldn’t even be necessary with the percussive attack of the electric bass and piano playing their syncopated parts in sequence with the drums. Again, a lesser musical mind may have assigned a standard waltz feel to a full drum kit, and filled in the rest with a traditional waltz feel. Brian instead makes the whole band part of the rhythmic hook, with every instrument playing an essential and multi-faceted role.

The First Chorus (0:23-0:46): The harmonic foundation of the chorus is best analyzed in two parts. The initial measures are built on a descending bass line which could be called a line cliché, still in D major. The harmonic rhythm is altered for this chorus, featuring one chord per bar rather than the two-bar duration of the verse. The chords are: D Major - D/C# - D/B - D/A. This descending line emphasizes how the different bass notes work under the constant D major triad, and also creates yet another strong hook for the chorus, a bass hook which works perfectly with the higher-range melody. The interesting twist is the second part of this phrase (‘just be together, we’ll only be together’), where the chords are: G7 - Dminor7 - G7 - G7. It appears that Brian borrowed the characteristic v minor chord from the G Mixolydian mode, to give that phrase one of his trademark unexpected resolutions. He’s creating yet another hook, a harmonic hook, in the process. In the key of D major, the G chord acts as the IV, and does not have the flatted 7th (F natural) available, and obviously the Dminor7 chord is not diatonic to D major. By “borrowing” this modal progression and using the characteristic Mixolydian minor v chord, Brian adds tremendous interest to this chorus, and adds an unpredictable conclusion to the predictable “line cliché” bass motion.

Instrumentally, the keyboards which were limited to hitting one chord each in the verse are now opened up and split in the chorus. They are somewhat difficult to distinguish in the mix, but it sounds like the harpsichord has become the driving rhythmic and chordal force in the chorus, playing a steady, rolling eighth note pattern that sounds like it could be doubled by the tack piano. It sounds like the standard piano is now playing the chords on the quarter notes, and it also sounds like a fuzz guitar line could be buried in the mix, playing sustained root notes on beat one of each measure. As mentioned, the bass is playing the descending line in the same rhythm as the verse, and the drums have now added a snare beat to hit on both beats 2 and 3, creating more of a traditional waltz pattern. Combining all of these instruments creates a very rhythmically full sound for the chorus, and adds sonic drive and force to make the chorus stand out apart from the verse.

Vocally, the chorus is where the vocal tracks really explode. Both Brian and Carl are sharing the high lead, trading off at various points, and they are backed by at least three separate backing vocal parts. These parts are either doubled or sung in harmony, covering the entire low-to-high vocal range, and creating counter-melodies while introducing additional lyrics. The parts that stand out most are Mike’s double-tracked bass vocal, Brian’s falsetto lead splitting off into Carl’s then coming back in harmony, and a brilliant harmony line that outlines the D major chord in dotted-half notes, singing the wordless notes: A-D-F#-A, switching to G, and ending by singing what sounds like “baby it’s time” with those borrowed modal notes F-G-F-D. These vocal parts create a massive swirling choral-like sound which defines the chorus and creates yet another production hook.

Second Verse (0:46-1:08): All of the instruments return to playing their parts from the first verse, resuming that rolling feel with the multi-keyboard “loop” and the band once again filling their rhythmic roles. This time around, though, backing vocals are added to the double-tracked lead. These wordless backing vocals follow the harmonies brilliantly, with contrary motion between the bass and upper parts, and interesting phrasing that is anything but static. This creates interesting flowing background lines where others may have chosen to harmonize on each chord change.

Second Chorus (1:08-1:31): Same roles and parts as the first chorus, with the addition of a high vibraphone part, primarily playing one note on beat one of each bar. This seemingly minor addition cuts through the thick arrangement due to its metallic high pitch, and adds a “magical” chiming sound that helps build this second chorus and set it apart from the first.

The Bridge (1:31-1:56): The brilliant way in which Brian approaches this bridge can be found in the bass line. In his previous choruses, after the G7-Dminor7-G7 modal progression, the bass line walked up on the notes G, A,B…and either added a C# on a weak beat 8th note to lead to the tonic note “D”, or deceptively went from the ascending G,A,B to “D” instead of the expected strong resolution to “C”. Brian, instead of deceiving us again, finally resolves that ascending bass line, and the bridge begins on and is based in the key of C. The chords are more difficult to hear in this section, but it sounds like Brian is once again borrowing the Mixolydian modal motif from the chorus and using a v minor chord in the initial progression: Cmajor(I)- Gminor(v)- Cmajor(I) - Fmajor(IV) - Fmajor; then C - Gminor - C - F (I’m analyzing this key/mode as C Mixolydian, which offers the flatted seventh note Bb needed to form the G minor). Notice he also adds an extra measure and plays the first F major chord for two bars rather than one. The next phrase (‘Aren’t you glad we finally got away’) has these chords: Aminor7 - Dminor7 - Aminor7 - Dminor7 - Aminor7 - Aminor7-Dminor7 - Dmajor. These chords are part of the C major scale, and can be analyzed as such, but I’m almost hearing them as a minor progression, with A minor temporarily acting as the i chord and D minor as iv. Whatever the analysis, it changes the overall sound to a minor tonality which we’ve not heard previously, and builds tension in conjunction with the melody and other instruments. This temporary minor tonality is different enough to make this bridge section stand out, but not radical enough to confuse the listener. It’s very difficult to hear this in the mix, but the brilliant chord in this section is the implied final chord just before the last verse: it sounds like that D minor changes to D major, which returns us to the original major-key tonality for the verse in an unexpected way. Notice that the fixed-pitch instruments sounding the note “F natural”, especially the vocals, stop just before this last chord (1:54-1:55). That F natural note defines the D minor tonality, and changing or even suggesting the change of that note up a half step to F# leads us back to the defining note of the D major tonality. It’s difficult to hear and confirm, but it’s almost being suggested by what’s happening in the arrangement.

Instrumentally, the bridge is enhanced by the addition of strings and brass instruments, as well as what sounds like a muted piano or muted harpsichord, possibly revisiting a familiar Brian Wilson sonic trademark from previous albums. The other keyboard instruments from the verse and chorus have dropped out, all but the piano doubling the bass. The drums and bass are playing these new harmonies with the same basic rhythm patterns as before. The brass, which is primarily playing lower-register notes and static lines, starts off complimenting a sustained mid-range string note. The vibraphone is now playing a busier quarter-note arpeggio part in a lower register than it had played in the chorus. Then, after the massive “deep and wide” vocal line, the strings launch into a very cinematic-sounding and busy part, eventually building the part to an incredible crescendo which reaches into the upper range of the instruments, a string part dependant more on feel and effect than precise pitch. This is one of the most exciting and visual instrumental parts Brian ever created, as visual and powerful as his similar instrumental work on Smile, and matching perfectly the message of the lyrics: “aren’t you glad we finally got away?”. The sound of those strings reaching into the stratosphere perfectly captures the mood of wanting to get away, another example of Brian capturing the essence of a lyric within an instrumental part.

Vocally, the bridge begins with only the double-tracked lead in front of a more sparse instrumental backing. But the track literally explodes on the words “deep and wide”, done in harmony, pushed up very loud in the mix, and with a massive reverb added. That reverb could convince us that we are really “looking down through the valley so deep and wide”, and is a perfect example of using a studio effect like reverb to further enhance the visual aspect of a lyric. After this explosion of vocals, the wordless backing vocals re-appear, and help build the intensity of the bridge by adding some thick minor-seventh sounding harmonies to the gathering storm of the string part. As stated before, these minor-seventh flavored vocals drop out just before the last measure of the bridge.

Special Note: In the alternate versions of Time To Get Alone, including the version on the Hawthorne disc and the Redwood version, there is an instrumental section which precedes the bridge as released by the Beach Boys. Included in this section is a whistled melody, a low brass part that sounds like a “Salvation Army”-style line, and sleigh bells. This “lost” pre-bridge section also modulates to the key of C, and very brilliantly follows the same line cliché in the bass as the previous choruses had followed, in the new key. You can hear a very brief “jingle” of the sleigh bells from this lost section in the Beach Boys’ released version, right before the bridge enters at 1:31.

Third Verse (1:56-2:07): Actually, this verse is half the length of the previous two verses, with all of the instruments and vocal parts covering the same parts as they had done on verse 2, minus the vibes. It does sound as if this verse were mixed somewhat louder than the others, or perhaps some of the parts were brought up for this last verse to continue the level of intensity from the bridge to the last choruses.

Third Chorus and Fade-Out (2:07-end): The final chorus, with the important addition of a counter-melody from the strings which compliments the already busy vocal parts from earlier choruses. It also sounds like the backing vocals were pushed up a bit on the mix for this final chorus, or perhaps that is a sonic illusion caused by the addition of the strings making an already full sound even fuller. This final string part adds what I hear to be emotional warmth and another layer of meaning to the lyrics of the track, almost like the feeling some get when listening to a Sinatra track with similar-sounding strings. In other words, it creates the perfect mood to end the song, a mood once again expressed instrumentally by Brian Wilson.

I feel that Time To Get Alone is one of the most perfect productions heard on any Beach Boys record, or on most pop records from any artist. It can easily stand alongside the best work from Pet Sounds and Smile, and it in no way suggests a lesser quality of work and skills from Brian from a time where it has been said he deliberately under-produced certain records. On this song, every instrumental part is exactly where it should be, the tools he uses to build the song section-by-section are textbook examples of creating and maintaining interest throughout a song, from a musical perspective it is complex and advanced in its structure and composition, the vocal and instrumental performances on the record are flawless, the mix sounds rich and full, and it captures, near-perfectly, Brian Wilson’s ability as a producer and songwriter to convey and compliment the visual imagery of a lyric through instrumental music.

Analyzing this song was a fantastic opportunity to learn what made this song great, piece-by-piece and section-by-section. Many musicians are given assignments to similarly deconstruct and analyze works by the great composers such as Bach and Beethoven, with the end result of such exercises hopefully being a greater understanding of the techniques used to create such masterpieces, techniques which can then be applied to that musician’s own work. I feel just as strongly about the value of analyzing Time To Get Alone for any fans of Brian Wilson who are interested in studying his musical techniques. The fact that this song comes from a period in Brian’s history that is often overlooked or misunderstood is even more of an inspiration to look more closely at it from a different perspective, and perhaps recognize Time To Get Alone as the artistic triumph it is.

               

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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #46 on: November 12, 2019, 10:52:07 AM »

Is the Caroline, No sound the one right at the beginning of the track?

Yes, it's the deep percussion hit treated with lots of tape echo which answers the three tambourine hits. To my ears, it still sounds like a mallet hitting plastic!
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« Reply #47 on: November 12, 2019, 11:27:50 AM »


...

Any more questions about this, please keep 'em coming, because my ears hear what the history of the drink packaging industry and vending machine technology doesn't seem to back up. I hear pretty much what Hal described, namely the sound of plastic being struck with a mallet. Yet, plastic disposable drink containers and bottles didn't seem to be all that prevalent if they existed at all in 1966. It was mostly glass or cardboard stocked in those vending machines.

"PLASTICS!!!" - The Graduate, 1967.



Thanks for chiming in.  After talking about these things for 20 years it's hard to remember what has been discussed and what hasn't!

I think it's good to question the "established wisdom" on these things.  Over the years, I think we have learned that so many legends arise for these studio tales that have basis in fact, but are misapplied.

This goes for the GOK percussion, the Sparklett's jug, and even the Coke cans on the PS instrumental.  I don't really hear coke cans anywhere on there!

Now, the question in sorting it out is:  If it sounds like a plastic bottle, maybe it's from something that DID come in plastic bottles at the time, and the orange beverage part is incorrect.  Or maybe Hal used orange bottles on some later production but the sound of GOK put him in mind of that and so he wrongly put two and two together.

I've never heard anybody get anywhere near that sound, though.  I'll be trying for some future video, though!

PS:  The sparklett's jug (or whatever it is) is alleged not to actually have tape regen on it at all!  Mark Linett posted at Gearslutz at some point that it's Hal playing in imitation of tape echo!
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« Reply #48 on: November 12, 2019, 11:57:34 AM »

Question for Craig on the TTGA topic (not that anyone's still talking about it but...I'm curious): is that one of the ones you got to hear the tracking session for? I'd assumed the basic track was Brian on the muted piano, due to it being the only consistent instrument through the whole song and also featuring in the 'untitled Redwood' early takes, but I wasn't sure if that carried over to the master since it's played with a different pattern and I hadn't seen a mention of it elsewhere.

I'm also confused about the roles of the two bass players. One of those alternate takes has someone strumming quarter notes on what sounds like a 6-string - could that have been put down first on the master by either Ray or Ron and then replaced by the other with the standard line during overdubs?

Since I wrote this back in 2005 before you came on board, you may have missed it, but thought this analysis I did of Time To Get Alone may be of interest. Maybe not as specific on the bass parts, but perhaps some other elements that are of interest are pointed out. And maybe it will inspire more of the in-depth digging that is being brought up in this thread overall:


I've read that post! Really great analysis. Some extra observations to add to it:

The 'muted' keyboard sound in the bridge is definitely a piano (probably an upright) with taped strings, and there's an aborted overdub of the same instrument on the Darlin' multitrack. The piano is there throughout the entire song (particularly noticeable in the Sunshine Tomorrow backing track) but low in the mix. I think it was the foundation that the rest of the track was overdubbed onto but... that's what I'm trying to get confirmation on.

I'm about 96% sure the final sound in the verse keyboard sequence is Brian's Baldwin organ on one of its buzzy settings - it's near identical to some of the tones used during the Hawaii concerts, and Danny Hutton listed the parts there as piano, harpsichord, upright grand (probably meaning a tacked upright grand, this is also in the wrong order), organ. I think you're right about the tack piano doubling the harpsichord eight notes in the chorus, it's just hard to tell because all of the keyboards are bounced to the same track. Danny also mentioned a "big, distorted, smooth guitar sound" achieved by playing a Wurlitzer through a damaged speaker, referring to the fuzzy sustained notes in the chorus and second bridge that sound a bit like a cello.

The interplay in the scrapped first bridge consists of alto flute, muted trumpet, and apparently mellophonium (oddly specific choice). There are also a couple of tympani fills towards the end of bridge 2 that didn't make it into the 20/20 mix.

As far as I can tell the 1968 instrumental additions were an unused electric 12-string rhythm guitar in the first couple of verses (imo rightfully dropped because it added nothing), the keyboard glockenspiel in the second chorus, and some extra drum parts during the final verse. The rest of the '67 track was bounced to mono for the 20/20 overdubs, EXCEPT in the bridge where the drums, bass, muted piano and mellophonium were kept separate to the vibes, distorted electric piano and strings, the latter set given a subtle stereo ADT effect. The strings were also on their own track in the fade.

Final note - the shared chorus lead is Brian and Al. Interestingly they recorded two versions, originally singing the altered high melody in both halves of each chorus and "we'll only be together" (single-tracked), then going back to the standard approach with "we'll be alone together" (doubled).
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 04:46:58 PM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #49 on: November 12, 2019, 12:24:05 PM »

It would be cool if you did videos on "Be With Me", "Mona Kana", and "Tune X" and talked about how they do or don't compare to Brian's style/approach.
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