Academic Master


Taxman by the Beatles


Studio recording techniques took a new angle in the 1960s, different from the one they had in previous years. The newly introduced multitrack machines have an opportunity for musicians to augment some elements to or from the recordings. Multitracking transformed the studio from being a documentation area to a playground of creativity. The producers started conceiving the studio as an area of building ideas beyond what was being done in live performances.

Taxman by the Beatles

The song ‘Taxman’ is grounded on a strong chorded guitar, which plays in a changing way that is evident to the listener, irrespective of the level of concentration. The song complains about the exorbitant government and the bitterness articulated by the sour vocal harmonies. In particular, in the last verse and the call-and-response bridge, we hear pitched harmonies rejoining the lead lines with extra comments. The song has lead guitar breaks in between the singing. The song uses key D, and it is a 4-4 timing. It starts with some coughs and counting in the background. It has chords that emphasize the key D in the harmonization. The song uses the 5th string’s voices to enhance the tone, which repeats itself after every two verses.

‘Taxman’ song uses the 4-track recording, but it is not evidently developed as it is used today. Perhaps the creativity of the then days, 1966, was not as advanced as we have today. We can note a few instruments being played, such as the sitar, but not very loud. The song uses special effect sounds to make the song exciting but with no vocal parts. The song’s arrangements follow an exact tempo and tempo alterations but end with a fade out. It uses a comparatively flat form with several iterations of the same refrains, which do not differ a lot from the rest of the song. It has excellent modal flavors in the way the tune, melody, and chord are placed.

The arrangement of the beats is hard-driving, which, in a way, sounds awkward or lurch due to the acute syncopations and the different sections of length.

Marvin Gaye’s 8-track on ‘What’s Going On’

What’s Going On is a great work of pop music with multi-layered vocals and super-arranged strings and melodies. It throws the listener into intense personal meditations on spirituality. It expresses questions about the world we are living in and concerns about wars, drugs, poverty, and the ecological system. Gaye uses feel-good romantic lyrics to bring out the musicality and message of the song. The mix is fascinating to listen to due to its string arrangements and the sweet vocals. If we compare the track’s title with the content, there are discrepancies in their elements.

The vocal tracks pan hard left with a separate one panning hard right. There is a big ‘space’ in the mix with the distinction between the instrumentals and the backing vocals, which are minimally blended or completely removed. The entire tracking brings in a magical feeling. The mono mix of What’s Going On is somewhat different in that we hear just drums, bass, guitar, and voices. The song’s structure and content remain put, but the magic disappears. Marvin Gaye uses the 8-track to express the inner emotional intensity via the song. He uses variations of details that deviate the Motown formulae from being too formulaic.

The song updates pop music, which heads in the opposite direction from rock songs. It distinguishes between the rocks and R &B arrangements. It has a perfected pop rhythm rich in rhythmic texture and eliminates the steady beats mostly used in rocks. It has strong impulses that inspire highbrow status by presuming accessories of high arts.



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