Musical Comparison of the Beatles and Marvin Gaye

298 words | 1 page(s)

The 4-track and 8-track technologies that were used to produce the Beatles’ Taxman and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On are distinguishable by the overall richness of sound. Taxman, which uses the 4-track recording process, has a very distinct stereo sound, with both the left and right channels containing different sounds and emphasizing different instruments. In one channel, the bass is more pronounced, while the percussion is more audible in the other. This gives a distinct stereo sound, in that the sound is noticeably coming from two channels that are meant to be listened to at the same time. This would be a richer sound than the previous mono format, but there are still very noticeable distinctions between left and right channels.

In contrast, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On uses an 8-track recording process, and the sound has a much richer feel than the Beatles’ song. This song uses more instrumentation as well, such as the use of a saxophone and background voices, so the effect is that the song has much more nuanced, layered approach. Although being split into two channels, each of the individual channels have a rich quality within them. The sound would still be stereo, but because of the 8-track recording process, there is less obviousness about certain sounds coming from only one channel. This shows how the 8-track recording process dramatically improved the different sounds that could be featured in a song, because each instrument is distinct. Although the different instruments in the Beatles’ song are also distinct, there are less individual components of the song; thus, the Beatles’ song might still sound somewhat similar if recorded on the 8-track process, but Marvin Gaye’s song would sound much more limited if recorded on a 4-track system. The extra channels allow for more musical complexity.  

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