Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Angel, Mar 21, 2002.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Angel

    Angel New Member Thread Starter

    Hollywood, Ca.
    Another Beatles' recording question: What is an "SI"?

    Dear Steve and all,

    I hate to be a pest, but this is the forum to learn things, and one thing I have to learn quickly is what a "SI" is in old Beatle studio lore.

    In order to keep up with my fellow engineers (all male) who chat about the good old days during lunch and on breaks, I need some hard fast info.

    So, thanks for understanding.

    SI. What is it, and how does it pertain to old Beatles recordings?

  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Angel, I'm munching some Life Cereal as I'm typing this, and not doing a very good job at either.

    It's very easy:
    Si means Yes, as in "Yes, that was a good take".

    OK, just foolin'.

    SI: Superimposition. In other words, a crude way to overdub, achieved by doing a "bounce" of the song from one tape machine, rerecording it onto another while adding new information, mixed on the spot.

    Ya see? SI. So, lezzsee, the first SI in Beatles lore must have been, hmmmm, the harmonica overdub on "Please Please Me" I guess. The second was probably Paul's second vocal SI on "A Taste Of Honey". The Piano on "Misery was an SI, as was the harmonica on "There's A Place".

    After that, I guess, gee maybe the harmonica on "Chains"? Maybe that was live like "Love Me Do", I don't remember.

    Next SI's were for "Thank You Girl" and "From Me To You".

    You get the idea. It's what we would call a bounce.

    Some engineers used to call it a "trick" recording.

    As I'm sure you know, you lose a generation every time you do a fresh SI. So, (for example) the mono LP master version of the song "Please Please Me" must be at least, er, fourth generation, (and it sounds it too.:eek: ) The 45 mono mix (minus the LP's extra echo) would be third generation, the harmonica SI twin-track version would be second generation and the original twin-track Underdub, first.

    The stereo LP mix version would be fourth generation as well I guess, considering that the stereo LP master box has "Equalized And Compressed tape copy" written on it. And of course, tape copies for other countries like Germany, Japan, USA, etc., would have been fifth generation. Sigh.

    When Abbey Road No. 2 Studio finally got their 1" four-track machine, the SI's stopped (for a while). Didn't "Hello Goodbye" have the most "reductions", eight or something? And then a mix to make it nine generations down, and then a tape copy for the USA, Japan, etc., to make it TEN generations down? Bones Howe would be proud.....But that's another story.

    That do it for you?

  3. Angel

    Angel New Member Thread Starter

    Hollywood, Ca.
    Dear Steve,

    Thank you so very much.

    Clear as a bell.

    Bless you again!
  4. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    A New Yorker
    I have to disagree with Steve's explanation. Good try but wrong...

    We all know that the Beatles weren't really from Liverpool or England. They were a band from Spain who pretended to be British in public but in the studio spoke freely in their natural lanquage. It's a well known fact that George Martin went nuts yelling "More echo, senior Juan?" "Si!" "Senior Pablo, is your bass in tune?" "No!" "What, I mean que?" "Si!" We all know they really wrote 'She Loves You, Si, Si, Si!". It's a historic fact in a reverse reality...
  5. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    While that may be the technical definition, the term "SI" was used for any overdub, whether it was a two-track to two-track bounce, or an overdub on a free track of a multitrack.

    And, of course, Abbey Road actually had the 4-track machine for a long time (1960). It's just that for some reason The Beatles didn't get to use it. Billy J. Kramer did, though!
  6. John Oteri

    John Oteri New Member In Memoriam

    Hollywood, CA
    Well, of course they had a 4 track machine earlier than the Beatles. The Shadows used it for "Apachie". Did they record in Number 2 Studio? Don't think so.

    Why didn't Number 2 studio get to use one? I don't know. Maybe they only had one machine in the entire place. According to Ron Furmanak, the early Billy J. stuff was twin-track as well. George Martin did say once that Billy needed a lot of overdubbing to get a decent record.

    But, George Martin did state that there was NO four-track machine that he could use until late 1963. Politics? Who knows?
  7. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Billy J. Kramer was using 4-track as early as mid-1963. Produced by George Martin. I know Allan Kozin could give you details if you asked him...

    I believe in 1960 they started out with 1 4-track machine, a Telefunken. I don't know if this was able to go between studios or not, but I would think it would be able to. Sometime in 1963 (I really don't know when), Abbey Road got 8 4-track Studer machines, which is what most/all of The Beatles' stuff was done on.

    Martin said in his book that Billy needed a lot of overdubbing, but then again, so did The Beatles. Some of those WTB songs (Little Child for example) are 4th generation, and that's just counting recording, not mixing/mastering.
  8. John Oteri

    John Oteri New Member In Memoriam

    Hollywood, CA

    I actually know who Allan Kozin is, but do you think that George Martin wouldn't have used the four-track for the Beatles "With The Beatles" LP if he had it sitting right there?

    C'mon. Disregarding Mr. Kozin for the moment, did you hear the remixed versions of the Billy J. Kramer stuff? The early ones only had a channel of music and a channel of voices. Would Ron mix like that? Naw, if he had more than two channels, he would have spread out the voices or the music. After all, he was creating the first stereo mix of the stuff. Why would he do it like that?

    Anyway, George Martin has said in print many times that he didn't have four track recording before the end of 1963.

    I'm not arguing with you, I'm just saying that someone isn't remembering correctly.

    Not that it matters now, but, would someone record four generations of twin track SI's if a multi-channel machine was sitting right there? Only if the machine was labeled "Not for use by The Beatles 'cause they have long hair" or something. ;)
  9. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    You would *think* so, yes. But who knows what was going through Martin's mind at the time.

    No, I haven't heard the stuff. How early is "early"? I just know there is session documentation that states that BJK had 4-track sessions in mid-1963...

    Which, of course, we know is wrong, as Abbey Road had a 4-track machine in 1960...

    Of course it makes sense to us that they'd use the 4-track, but how are we to know what was going through their minds at the time? Who knows?

    I should e-mail Allan again sometime...
  10. John Oteri

    John Oteri New Member In Memoriam

    Hollywood, CA
    I'm really confused. How come all the Billy J. Kramer stuff from 1963 is still there, but the Beatles session reels were mainly ashcanned?

    'Tain't fair!

  11. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Well, keep in mind not ALL of those session reels were ashcanned. Here's what we know survived:

    - about half of the Please Please Me LP sessions
    - the entire From Me To You/Thank You Girl/One After 909 session (including the later overdub session, I believe)
    - the session tape with Don't Bother Me (remake, basic tracks only) and Hold Me Tight (remake, basic tracks and overdubs)
    - the 4-track material (IWTHYH, This Boy)

    Everything else is presumed lost.
  12. billh

    billh Forum Resident

    Orange County, CA

    Please keep asking your questions, especially about the Beatles. The replies you get are--for me at least--the most interesting part of this forum.
  13. Angel

    Angel New Member Thread Starter

    Hollywood, Ca.
    Well, it's pretty amazing to me that I can ask a technical question here and get an instant answer from the man himself.

    Where else could that happen?

    This is a great place to learn and to hang out with like minded people.

    Love it!:cool:
    Gardo likes this.
  14. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    As someone who does a lot of recording but who is not a recording professional, this forum is very educational for me.

    Thank you for your contributions!

    Bob :D
  15. Loud Listener

    Loud Listener Forum Resident


    I have a book that I believe is the definitive Beatles information source. It even has the explanation of what is really said at the end of Strawberry Fields Forever ('cranberry sauce', not 'I buried Paul', recorded with the tape sped up to sound very slow at normal playback).

    It lists every SI and every recording including takes for everything they recorded. It talks about many of the items that made it on to the anthology ablums and was published in 1988 by EMI Records.

    It also talks about how 'Her Majesty' was cut from Abbey Road from between Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam, tossed on the floor, then spliced onto the end of the side two reel. You can hear the last chord of 'Mean Mr. Mustard' at the beginning of 'Her Majesty'

    The book is 'The Beatles Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn, ISBN number 0517581825.

    I made a CD-R of the Abbey Road original running order of side two and it is interesting.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page