Les Paul is widely considered amongst musicians as one of the “seven wonders of the recording world,” due to his influence as an inventor, musician, and scholar in the music industry as we know it today. Not only did Paul leave a mark on audiences around the world for initiating the genre of rock and roll, but, also changed the sound and sophistication by which music was produced forevermore.
Perhaps the most important achievement Paul will be remembered for was his commitment to develop a way for an audience to effectively hear his electric guitar when playing on stage, after several remarks from fans that they could hear his voice, but not the music he played. This all changed when Paul developed one of the first single-bodied, electric guitars in the Epiphone Guitar Factory in 1940, dubbed “The Log” due to its long, slender shape and rough appearance. Paul’s original attempt to revolutionize the music industry in this way fell flat due to poor design and copious feedback. However, Paul soon tried again, tinkering for hours in his garage, trying to find the opportune shape, density, string length, and, perhaps most important, sound quality. Paul finally submitted his design to the Gibson Guitar Corporation of Nashville, TN in 1961. Instantly, the Les Paul solid-bodied guitar was a hit with artists such as Gary Rossington of Lynard Skynard, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Pete Townsend of The Who, frequently using the guitar while performing on stage. Paul’s singing, as well as his guitar, could finally be heard in the crowd.
What went on behind the scenes, however, was something which astounded everyone in the world. Multitrack recording revolutionized the music industry as we known it today. While experimenting with sounds in his garage, Paul stumbled upon an idea so truly remarkable for its time, that many still wonder what compelled him to think of it. Paul remembered an old piece of military machinery used by the Germans during World War Two. Paul wondered what would happen if the transmissions were played one on top of the other. Would they play in unison or would they break the machine? According to Paul, there was only one way to find out. Amazingly, both transmissions could be heard simultaneously quite clearly. Paul then had the idea of incorporating this new and strange phenomenon into his music, moving from jazz into the beginnings of rock and roll.
When Les Paul met Colleen Summers in the summer of 1945, she had been singing with a harmonizing group which topped the charts routinely and had never strayed from her pop roots to something so controversial as rock and roll. However, when Paul promised her a successful career and, later, his hand in marriage, Colleen Summers began working with him three years later in 1948, adopting the stage name Mary Ford for herself. Paul and Ford recorded the very first song to use multitracking in a somewhat unconventional fashion. The duo would first record some of the tracks which would be used in the song, eventually summing to twelve tracks for Paul and twelve for Ford. However, there were never twelve tracks which were recorded by either musician. In fact, only a few recordings were used, but most of these were sped up or slowed down, re-recorded, and then played back with the original recordings. The same applied for Paul’s guitar tracks, and, after only one hour, the song was completed, but it would not be soon forgotten. ”How High the Moon” was on the top 40 music charts for 25 weeks, nine of which were spent at number one.
Les Paul, perhaps one of the world’s most revered legends in the recording industry, remains somewhat overlooked in mainstream today’s society. Modernizations in the music industry since Paul’s time have come to be, many of which have replaced the splendor generated in the 1960s by multitracking. But, let those who find minimal importance in Les Paul’s music’s influence on the music of today be reminded, without Les Paul, modern recording would not have evolved as quickly, and could not continue to evolve as quickly, as it is today.
This is a song that I composed in Music Tech one which consists of an AABACA pattern featuring multitracking, equalizing, and compressing some of the tracks. The purpose of this is to make the sound much fuller sounding (certain sections will not quite play in unison and pitch, tempo, etc. will be altered in order to achieve this effect). Duplicating tracks, or multitracking, does not increase the sound in terms of decibels, but increases the fullness of the sound, which makes it seem “fatter” with a more rich tone. There is another method present in the song which increases the fullness of the sound, mixing. Each headphone will pick up different “wedges” of sound, which not only increases the fullness of the sound but also increases the believability that this is a real band playing the song instead of loops compiled together. Within the song, there are elements of acoustic guitar, synth bass, drum kits, electric guitar, shaker, electric bass, and beats.
This is the quintessential parody of all of the components of a 1970’s cop show’s theme song. From the jazzy beats to the funky bass synths, this song will take you back to the days of disco and bad hair.