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Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass
There is no dark side of the moon really...

There is no dark side of the moon really…

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One of the all-time legendary great records is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Some would say that this was the peak of their career and everything after that was downhill.

One of the features of Dark Side of the Moon is a series of spoken sentences and phrases that appear throughout the album. Bass guitarist Roger Waters had prepared a series of question cards that were given to 'interviewees' in the Abbey Road studio.

The early questions were not significant but designed to relax the interviewee and lower their defences for the later ones, such as, “When did you last hit somebody?” and, “Were you in the right?”.

Although this is very much a one-off and wouldn't be the kind of thing you'd want to repeat, it does show elements of good studio practice.

Firstly, you'll never get a good recording of someone who is uncomfortable or doesn't feel that they are ready. The early 'softening up' questions were ideal for this. With a musical performance the equivalent might be to do 'anything goes' rehearsal takes. Tell the player it doesn't matter, but secretly record the takes in case something good happens by accident. Even if nothing comes out of these takes, the player will be in a relaxed frame of mind to give their best performance.

Secondly, you have to be prepared to try out ideas and discard them if they don't work. Among the interviewees for Dark Side of the Moon were Alan Parsons and Paul McCartney. None of their contributions were used.

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Finally, among a bulk of takes you have recorded might be a hidden gem that you don't notice because the surrounding material isn't useful. In the case of Dark Side of the Moon, Abbey Road's doorman Jerry Driscoll was asked, “What is the dark side of the moon?”. The response, as used right at the end of the album, was the famous line…

“There is no dark side of the moon really; as a matter of fact it's all dark.”

But that wasn't all that he said. He went on to say, “The only thing that makes it look alight is the sun.” The first part of what he said is intriguing and opens up imagination. The second part just brings things down to a matter of fact.

So the combination of a chance response and clever editing resulted in a line that anyone with even a passing interest in rock music would recognize.

OK, now it's your turn to get creative…

David Mellor

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David Mellor