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656620 Posts in 26265 Topics by 3734 Members - Latest Member: sloopjohnb72 April 09, 2020, 11:46:07 PM
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Author Topic: Harpsichord on "Good Vibrations" single  (Read 388 times)
PickupExcitations
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« on: March 24, 2020, 09:15:29 AM »

I've listened to "Good Vibrations" like, a thousand times? However, I've never heard the sound of a harpsichord in this record. I once thought the instrument was played on the 1st Bridge, but it turned out to be a tack piano. Some experts said that the harpsichord sound was in the chorus parts, and all I could hear was the voices of drums, cellos and tambourine, not able to track the harpsichord sound at all. So could anyone tell me where the harpsichord is? Was it actually existed on the record? Was the sound too low to be heard?

PS: It's not hard to find the sound on the stereo track from the Smile Sessions, but that wouldn't prove that the original version had the harpsichord, right?

PPS: Where is the harpsichord sound on "I Get Around"? Couldn't find it, too.
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c-man
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2020, 09:41:58 AM »

For "I Get Around", Brian played piano on the basic track, then doubled that rhythmic piano part on the harpsichord as an overdub (along with extra guitar and Dano bass, played by Carl and Ray Pohlman respectively - the latter doubling the original Dano bass line from the basic track, which was apparently played by Glen Campbell, according to what I can make out from the chatter on the session tape). On the final record, the harpsichord meshes with the piano in the rhythm track, which is probably why you don't hear it - again, it's a rhythm part, meaning Brian is banging out chords, unlike the harpsichord part on "When I Grow Up", which is a very prominent melodic line. And, neither the piano nor harpsichord play during the verse parts that Mike sings solo - just the instrumental interludes and the choruses.

For "Good Vibrations", Don Randi played the harpsichord on the choruses (recorded at the June 2 Western Recorders session). Again, this is a rhythmic, chordal part, so it kinda gets buried in the final mix.

You can hear the harpsichord on the session outtakes and vocal-less instrumental tracks for both songs.
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c-man
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2020, 10:28:08 AM »

Regarding "Good Vibrations", I should add - and I'm going from memory here, since I don't have the time right now to dig out the outtakes from the various bootlegs to listen - that the harpsichord may have been recorded to its own track, and that track may have been eliminated or drastically minimized in the final mix (where, if there, it's certainly buried by vocals, Theremin, and other parts). Which isn't to say it's no longer there, faintly in the background, picked up across the room by the drum and bass mics. Just thought I'd add that!
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SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2020, 02:29:58 PM »

For the GV choruses, the basic instrumentation (harpsichord, tack piano, electric guitar, the two basses, drums) was all recorded onto the same track in mono, and when Brian dubbed the parts down onto the next tape the overdub with the tambourine and tom-tom pickups was highlighted pretty heavily over the rest. Add the cello, theremin and vocals, and it's pretty hard to distinguish anything from the original rhythm track except for the bassline when it's mixed together. You can make out the other instruments faintly at the end of the third chorus.

I think that chorus mix is the one area of Good Vibrations where Brian slipped up a bit to be honest. Tambourine's way off-balance with everything else.
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PickupExcitations
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2020, 11:18:02 PM »

For the GV choruses, the basic instrumentation (harpsichord, tack piano, electric guitar, the two basses, drums) was all recorded onto the same track in mono, and when Brian dubbed the parts down onto the next tape the overdub with the tambourine and tom-tom pickups was highlighted pretty heavily over the rest. Add the cello, theremin and vocals, and it's pretty hard to distinguish anything from the original rhythm track except for the bassline when it's mixed together. You can make out the other instruments faintly at the end of the third chorus.

I think that chorus mix is the one area of Good Vibrations where Brian slipped up a bit to be honest. Tambourine's way off-balance with everything else.

The end of the third chorus? Just before the "na na na na na" part? Let me take a closer look...
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