Recording "Piggies"

Friday, September 20, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline More from year 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Master album


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About

The day before, The Beatles recorded the basic track of “Piggies“, a George Harrison-penned track. On this day, from 7 pm to 11 pm, they recorded overdubs. As George Martin was on holiday for most of September 1968, Chris Thomas produced this session.

Take 11 had been recorded on a four-track tape, and the first task of the day was to copy it to an eight-track tape to give room for overdubs.

George Harrison recorded and double-tracked his vocals, using ADT (Automatic double tracking). In the bridge of the song, George wanted his vocals to sound like he was singing pinching his nose. Technical engineer Ken Townsend found a creative way to achieve that goal:

We fed the microphone signal through a very sharp echo chamber filter, an RS106, so that it chopped off everything above and below the 3.5 kilohertz level, creating a very narrow band of sound.

Ken Townsend​ – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn

George and Paul McCartney added some harmony vocals, while John Lennon sang the melody two octaves below them.

George also recorded some pig snorting noises that wouldn’t be used in the final mixes.

At some point, John isolated himself in the control room to create a sound effect of pigs snorting and grunting, using for that purpose a tape from the Abbey Road sound effects collection, named “Animals and Bees (volume 35)“.

It’s from an old EMI 78rpm record and The Beatles may have used a combination of that and their own voices. That always works well – the new voices hide the 78rpm scratchiness, the original record hides the fact that some of the sounds are man-made.

Stuart Eltham ​ – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn

This sound effect would be added during the mixing process, on October 11. A string arrangement would also be added on October 10.

Last updated on September 6, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Tape copying • Tape copying of take 11 into take 12


2.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • SI onto take 12

Staff

Musicians on Piggies

Paul McCartney:
Harmony vocals
John Lennon:
Harmony vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead vocals

Production staff

Chris Thomas:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer
Mike Sheady:
Second Engineer

The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

The Beatles Bible

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Have a look at https://www.beatlesbible.com/1968/09/20/recording-piggies-glass-onion/

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