"How We Made It Sound That Way"
Now, we come to the question of specifical electronic effects, that been requested to explain to you how some of the noises we got on the Freak Out! album were manufactured. On the second disc of Freak Out! we have one long tune which is called The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet. This was an unfortunate incident. Hrm, I'm still a little bit angry that the company did not allow me to finish the composition. What you hear on the album is the rhythm track, that is just like the basic foundation for a piece of music, that was never completed, and they … now see how they can take it upon themselves to release an uncompleted piece, but, they did, and a number of people come out to me and say how wonderful it is, but I think it is really crappy, and I'll tell you how we made it sound that way.
The rhythm consists of one set of drums, and about 500 Dollars worth of rented percussion equipment. Y'know, 5… the rental of 500 Dollars is for one night. We have the whole room filled with all kind of drums and had about a couple of hundred people in the room just sat banging the drums and make any kind of noise you want and recorded the great deal of this type of sound, sort of spontaneous hokum. Then, this was listened to, sifted through, the choice of noises were picked out, edited together, and superimposed on a basic rhythm track of the drums and two or three oscillators, sounds played inside of a grand piano, dropping things on the strings of the piano, plucking, smashing, ranting and bashing … uh, noise. This all assembled to create the first, about the first half of the composition.
The second half, it is built mainly on vocal sounds modified by changing the speed of the tape and different equalisation characteristics, which is to say, equalisation is, uh, electronic dealy, whereby you can emphasize certain frequencies of, uh, a voice or an instrument or a type of sound. It's like the bass and treble controls on your amplifier or your Hi-Fi-set. Except that in the studio you have the capabilities of emphasizing specific frequences. If you were, let's say, to emphasize the 500 cycle component of a given sound, if you emphasize 500 cycles on a voice, the voice tends to become fat and blurry. If, however, you're boosting the voice at 4000 cycles it will become crisp. And it is also conceiveable, that if you boost at these … both these components at the same time you might have a fat blurry crisp voice.
We do not … uh … have a great deal of money to experiment around with all of the possibilities for studio usage right now. But one of these days, when we get rich, we'll be able to go into the studio and grab ahold of every knob we can get our hands on and turn them all and see what they will do to the sound of normal instruments and to the sound of voices. Within the scope of our limited teen-age budget we have managed to make unusual sounds out of everyday household variety human voices and Rock & Roll instruments.
It's quite possible to mangle the sound of … uh … any… anything in the studio. You can take, for instance, the sound of a voice and … by using the device known as a filter, instead of boosting certain acoustical components of the voice, you can eliminate them. Filters chop sounds out. If you were to filter a voice at 750 cycles, which is to say that all sound below 750 is removed, you get the effect of a cardboard voice, sort of like what Paul McCartney got on one of those songs on, uh, "Revolver" album, I figure which one … I think "Whithin You And Without You". No, it's not, I don't know what I'm talking about, now, anyway, I never listen to the Beatles. But he did this one where he sounds just like this weasely voice in the background, it's a filtered voice, and a more simplyfied version of the technique is to be heard in, ah … "Winchester Cathedral", where it sounds like Megaphone-a-Go-Go.
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Source according to booklet: WDET Detroit, 13 November 1967