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Audio Technology and Pink Floyd Print E-mail
Written by Brian Phillips   
Thursday, 10 October 2019

Our thanks to BD visitor Brian Phillips who has supplied the following article with his views on Audio Technology and Pink Floyd. We always welcome contributions from our visitors, as this site is run FOR you, and WITH you. Different views give different perspectives - if you have something you'd like to share with us, and the Floyd community as a whole, just let us know!

The Beatles get a lot of attention, and rightfully so, for being innovators in the studio, the invention of "flanging", artificial double tracking, and sampling, among others are tools still used today. There are other contemporaries that deserve an equal amount of attention for being studio and live sound innovators. Pink Floyd is one of these bands. While sometimes being in Abbey Road studios at the same time as the Beatles, the innovation by Pink Floyd continued for decades after the Beatles planted the first seeds.

Things like Pink Floyd's 1967 invention the "Azimuth Coordinator", allowed for live sound to be presented in "quadraphonic", a surround sound format 20 to 30 years prior to that format becoming a standard for home theaters. This new idea of surrounding, encapsulating the audience, allowing concert goers to listen inside the music, raised the bar for all future concerts.

Another example is Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour's modifications of his primary guitar with the band, the black Fender Stratocaster, swapping volume knobs, trying different necks, adding an XLR jack instead of the standard ¼ inch jack, installing different pickups, etc. was the start of modifying the instrument to his particular standards. This was unique and innovative for the time, as most musicians, even highly paid professional musicians, still played factory stock instruments.

Today, it is a lot more common to modify guitars and one could argue that the mass-produced Fender Stratocaster with interchangeable parts enabled this trend to become increasingly popular. There is even a term among guitar players, collectors, and luthiers, the "Frankenstrat", meaning a guitar built from parts from other guitars, much like Dr. Frankenstein's monster was made from human body parts…. One could argue that "The Black Strat" was one of the first Frankenstrats, and certainly the most popular and highly valued as shown at the Christie's auction earlier this year.

While the Beatles may have been one of the first bands to use sampling, on Yellow Submarine, Pink Floyd brought sampling to the forefront with the 1973 release of the album The Dark Side of the Moon. The song On The Run, which features sampling also contains "dynamic panning" as you hear footsteps running from one side to the other.

Moving forward 10 years to the 1983 album The Final Cut, one of the first recorded examples of Holophonics can be heard on the song Get Your Filthy Hand Off My Desert as the jet flies from somewhere behind the listener. While not invented by Pink Floyd, they were one of the first bands to incorporate it on an album. Getting a second dimension on a one dimensional format (stereo) is quite an accomplishment!

Let's look forward to more albums and concerts by other artists that include surround mixes, psychoacoustics, and see what the future brings, pushed on by the innovations of bands like Pink Floyd!

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