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Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Acoustic Screens

Many photos abound of the Beatles in Studio 2 with the acoustic screens in the background. The screens are made of metal and painted white. They're hinged to both of the side walls at the far end of the studio, which is where the Beatles predominantly positioned themselves when they recorded.

The hinges allow them to be opened out so that they can create partitions within the studio. Partitioning the studio stops sound from leaking from one microphone to the other (for example, Ringo might have been behind the acoustic screens to stop his drums from leaking onto George's guitar track).

The screens are huge and were folded back to the walls during my visit.

Here they are in use:

The Studio Two Staircase

One of the distinguishing features of Studio Two is the staircase. It's on your right as you walk into the studio and it leads up to the control room. All sorts of magic happened up here; It was up in the control room that Paul, listening back to his work so far on 'Mother Nature's Son', was absent mindedly strumming a pencil on a notepad at the mixing desk. Apparently all of a sudden he became aware of his strumming and decided it would be perfect as backing percussion to the track. I always assumed that he was just tapping on the body of his acoustic.

The control room sits directly above the entrance to Studio Two. Here it is as it stands today:

Quite a few photos were taken of The Beatles with the staircase in the background. Here are a few:

There's a big window in the control room that looks out over the studio. Here's a shot of John looking pretty vacantly through the window in 1967 (oh look - there's another one of those red Abbey Road chairs to John's left):

And here's that same window today. You can see the same metal brackety-type thing going diagonally across the top right-hand corner of the window in both pics:

Here's the view from the top of the stairs:

And here are some photos of The Beatles taken from various positions on the stairs:

The Abbey Road Chairs

I visited Abbey Road Studios recently for a presentation on the studios' history to celebrate their 80th anniversary.

The presentation took place in Studio 2 and was delivered to us by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew. Kevin and Brian are the authors of the critically acclaimed 'Recording The Beatles'. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard that it's excellent and oozes detail (Mark Lewisohn has given it his seal of approval by doing the foreword, so it must be good). Gonna have to put it on my wish list. The presentation lasted for 90 minutes and covered the entire history of the studios, from the time it opened its doors in 1931 up until the present day. Kevin and Brian did a cracking job - there was loads of detail in there and most importantly there was plenty of Beatles content in there.

Lots of the instruments that the Beatles used in their recordings were on display, along with some vintage mixing desks and tape recorders that were used to create their masterpieces.

It was an awesome experience - the air was thick with the history and importance of what had happened there all those years ago.

A splendid time was guaranteed for (and had by) all.

The chairs that made up the majority of the seating for the presentation were the original chairs that were delivered to Abbey Road circa 1960. They were chosen because they didn't make any squeaking noises during recording sessions, unlike the old wooden ones that they had before.

The chairs were bright red leather numbers with grey metal legs. They can be seen in nearly every picture of the Beatles at Abbey Road and are still in use today. I bounced up and down on mine and I can confirm that they don't squeak at all, 50 years later. Wise investment, EMI.

Here are they are now:

And here they are 'in action' with you know who. Wonder if any of them ever sat on the chair I parked myself on?


Here's one of The Fool sitting on the chairs when they visited the Beatles at Abbey Road in 1967.

This is just a little taster of the delights that were on show inside Studio 2. Keep em peeled - I'll be adding more Abbey Road posts in the not-so-distant future.