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Tape Reversal

Quick tips for recording.

Whilst there is a tendency in some parts of the recording industry to jump on the bandwagon with constant duplications of the current 'hit sound' which tends to cloud individuality, there are still many musicians and engineers creating those unusual and distinctive sounds which set their records apart from the rest. The equipment used by the professionals to achieve their 'sounds' is out of reach of the home recordist (unless he is in the big league) but distinction can be attained with some of the skills perfected long before computer techniques came to the music industry. Much can be done with a little ingenuity, a two speed, full track or two track recorder and a tape splicing kit.

Each month HSR will revive one of the oldies or put a little inspiration your way — let yourself go and try a few adventures in sound. There will be some fruitless journeys but that's half of the fun.

Tape Reversal

Try this for a starter - reversing the dynamics of sound. That in itself is simple, it's only a matter of making the recording and playing it in reverse. This is done by recording on one track of a ½ track twin channel machine, turning the spools over and playing back on the other channel. The result is a reversal of the attack and decay characteristics of any sound, turning normally percussive sounds from pianos and guitars into sounds with an eerie slow rise and sudden ending. The technique was popular in the 60's and was featured on the Sgt. Pepper's LP (which track?) and, because almost 20 years (how many?) have passed, it may be considered to be old hat - well many of today's teenagers have probably never heard the effect and there are many variations. Here is one to try - record a series of notes with spaces lasting about half of the duration of the notes (including decay), reverse the play direction and add reverb to extend the abrupt ending causing it to decay into the next rising note. See diagram 1.

Reducing the note space ratio will change the overall sound. This effect could be used with all manner of original sounds. How about twanging rulers, dripping taps, banging doors, handclaps? A basic rhythm could then be created and spliced into a loop.

Diagram 1. Tape Reversal characteristics.

If readers have any special recording tips of their own that they would like to pass on to others, then we would be pleased to feature them in future installments of 'HSR Insight'.

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Home & Studio Recording - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Home & Studio Recording - Feb 1984

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Feature by Steve Taylor

Previous article in this issue:

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> Questar QA3 Active Monitors

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