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Author: Subject: Is Duane Allman out of tune on Layla?

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 07:59 AM
I saw this topic on another forum and some vehemently argued that Duane's playing on the song Layla (not the whole album) is out of tune ("It's a fact!"). Others argued that he may have strayed into purposely hitting out of tune notes for effects at times.

I have never really like Layla that much and always thought it sounded jarring but I never thought Duane was out of tune and find it hard to believe he would be given his incredible ear and precision.

Out of tune, purposely placed off color notes or in tune playing on an abrasive sounding song?

Thoughts?

 
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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 08:59 AM
Duane bends a lot of notes. If you try to play Statesboro in perfect pitch, you'll sound terrible. What makes it growl and bite
is him pushing the edge.

Duane's guitar is off on Layla. Whether it was mountains of drugs or the tape speed has been a matter of contention
on internet discussion boards for years.

Be interesting to hear if Al Paul has any scoop on this.


 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 09:05 AM
Just curious what forum? As for your question Duane, like any guitar player, hit a few clunkers mostly on live cuts though. The Layla record is unique in many respects. 1. It is arguably the greatest rock record of all time easily in the top 10 for eternity. 2. Tom Dowd spoke of the looseness of which it was recorded. Some of the tunes were jams. Some were recorded when inspiration hit. And solos were overdubbed. I assume there were fixes made as well. All of these scenarios could've led to improperly tuned instruments being used. IMO if there are some out of tune spots (I've never heard any) then they only lend soul to the recording. Also 3. Tom also mentions that some one spilled coffee on the master tapes which had to then be laid out, dried, respliced, etc. it is a wonder that it was ever released. 4. The tune "Layla" itself is actually two tunes - the song "Layla" and the piano coda at the end (supposedly written by Jim Gordon). They were recorded separately and spliced together which could lend to sonic differences. Again I don't here any.
Duane Allman was an incredibly talented, driven and charismatic individual who left a tremendous and important body of work when he passed away at 24 years of age. Let me reiterate 24 years of age! He will always be one of the greatest slide players and guitarists for that matter. All who come after (especially Southern musicians while we are on this Southern thing) owe a deep debt of gratitude to Duane every time they play from the heart.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 10:28 AM
As stated in another Layla thread, there are so many guitar tracks on that song - it is Zepplin-esque in production!
Without knowing exactly what I'm talking about - or being able to fully explain what I'm talking about, I wonder if they were trying to achieve some sort of harmonics - with several notes being barely above or below the proper key. I've watched the Tom Down video many times. In isolation, some of the tracks sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. But in the final mix, it all sounds great. Perhaps it was ll by design.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 10:47 AM
When I listen to the isolated guitar tracks sounds in tune, with the full track pitchy in spots.

Still an amazing studio cut.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 11:31 AM
Bobby Whitlock says he was.
 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 02:26 PM
quote:
Is Duane Allman out of tune on Layla?


Who really cares....do you like the song?....That's all that really matters.......... I can list dozens of songs with out of tune instruments....

Those high notes are off the fret board and very hard to be "Perfect"....in fact what is perfect we use a tuning system where every note is equally out of tune....Equal temperament....it's built right into your fretboard

Out of tune is relative....it bothers some more than others and there is a relative intonation to every band...

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 02:54 PM
quote:
quote:
Is Duane Allman out of tune on Layla?


Who really cares....do you like the song?....That's all that really matters.......... I can list dozens of songs with out of tune instruments....

Those high notes are off the fret board and very hard to be "Perfect"....in fact what is perfect we use a tuning system where every note is equally out of tune....Equal temperament....it's built right into your fretboard

Out of tune is relative....it bothers some more than others and there is a relative intonation to every band...


I was just surprised that Duane would be out of tune. I think his ear is incredible and he uses pitch and a control as well as any guitarist I have ever heard. Layla has never been a favorite album of mine (Tell the Truth is my favorite Duane song by far on that album with Keep on Growing being my #1) but that is strictly a matter of taste. I have always thought the song Layla was abrasive and at times too piercing but never thought Duane played, intentionally and throughout the song, out of tune. But I don't know how to verify that for certain.

Ramble in short: doesn't bother me, but shocked and surprised that Duane Allman would play out of tune (not talking about intentionally doing so which he does so well it actually sounds in tune). Would just be interested to verify if this is the case because it is so completely out of the ordinary for him I have a hard time believing it.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 04:03 PM
just shows how great he was.
Duane Allman can play a song 'out of tune' way better than 99.9 % of guitarists with 'perfect' tuning do...and create a 'classic song' as well. Now thats special.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 04:42 PM
quote:
just shows how great he was.
Duane Allman can play a song 'out of tune' way better than 99.9 % of guitarists with 'perfect' tuning do...and create a 'classic song' as well. Now thats special.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2015 at 05:55 PM
He was the catalyst that sparked one of the greatest achievements in recorded rock'n'roll history, four sides of anguish, love, inspiration, heartache and balls-out guitar mastery. I hope some day to be as out of tune, as do probably 99% of all guitarists, professional or amateur.

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 10:54 AM
Check out the isolated tracks below. Whenever you have a lot of bends or a slide, especially screeching at the 12th fret or higher, you're going to get some pitchy moments (even more when drugs or booze are involved). Dare I say, even Warren's slide can get pitchy when he hits some high slide notes. But that goes with bends and slides when working between the notes - you are pushing in or our of a tone. But Duane's slide on the coda sounds absolutely beautiful and flawless when singled out. As a whole within the context of the song, it works perfectly, and I'm not even a huge fan of the song (I prefer the coda).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfj3QhJ3Xmk

I've actually always been surprised this hasn't been brought up more regarding the Atlanta Pop performances. There are several off-key moments between Dickey and Duane, especially (and not surprisingly) the later show. Nothing to make you throw the album away, but they are there nonetheless. I've read how deliberate Dickey is about teaching his guitar duelists about how to bend a melody/harmony line, and I'm sure this is why - an off-bend can be the difference between in-tune harmony and off-tune screech.

[Edited on 7/21/2015 by porkchopbob]

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 10:55 AM
Given the accounts of what was partaken of during the Layla sessions, it's a miracle of modern music they laid down what they did.

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 11:34 AM
quote:
Check out the isolated tracks below. Whenever you have a lot of bends or a slide, especially screeching at the 12th fret or higher, you're going to get some pitchy moments (even more when drugs or booze are involved). Dare I say, even Warren's slide can get pitchy when he hits some high slide notes. But that goes with bends and slides when working between the notes - you are pushing in or our of a tone. But Duane's slide on the coda sounds absolutely beautiful and flawless when singled out. As a whole within the context of the song, it works perfectly, and I'm not even a huge fan of the song (I prefer the coda).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfj3QhJ3Xmk

I've actually always been surprised this hasn't been brought up more regarding the Atlanta Pop performances. There are several off-key moments between Dickey and Duane, especially (and not surprisingly) the later show. Nothing to make you throw the album away, but they are there nonetheless. I've read how deliberate Dickey is about teaching his guitar duelists about how to bend a melody/harmony line, and I'm sure this is why - an off-bend can be the difference between in-tune harmony and off-tune screech.

[Edited on 7/21/2015 by porkchopbob]


Captn skipper and I went over the Atlanta pop recordings together back then because he was worried about the guitars being out of tune and they were but in the kind of heat and humidity they were in there is no way to keep your guitar in tune...

Lot's out out of tune recording over the years by many people..

Check out the guitar into to Jackie Wilsons Higher and Higher....way out of tune but once all the other instruments start playing is just blends in to the overall intonation of the song

Listen to Soulful strut...a piano instrumental the Piano is way out of tune and it's the main instrument

lots of out of tune recordings

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 11:43 AM
It was pretty noticeable when Tom Dowd isolated the slide lines on the multitracks in Tom Dowd and the Langauge of Music, that there were pitchy moments there . I suspect there were enough passes Dowd just edited them out

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 11:53 AM
Thanks to all participating in this thread. Very cool argument.

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 11:56 AM
quote:
Captn skipper and I went over the Atlanta pop recordings together back then because he was worried about the guitars being out of tune and they were but in the kind of heat and humidity they were in there is no way to keep your guitar in tune...

Lot's out out of tune recording over the years by many people..

Check out the guitar into to Jackie Wilsons Higher and Higher....way out of tune but once all the other instruments start playing is just blends in to the overall intonation of the song

Listen to Soulful strut...a piano instrumental the Piano is way out of tune and it's the main instrument

lots of out of tune recordings


Totally agreed. I'm not ragging on Atlanta Pop album, and I totally take into account the heat and humidity stretching guitar necks and whatnot (and the 2nd show being late after I'm sure the band was partying all weekend). I will say, every time a songs starts off with the guitars a little out of tune on ATL Pop, they quickly adjust. There is some magic on there, I'm just surprised it isn't mentioned more often.

Sometimes the energy of a performance trumps the minor "mistakes" especially with live performances. A recording in a studio is always a surprise, especially if it's in the age of multi-track when you can isolate and re-record. But often tapes speeds were altered which affects the key of the performance, or the take was so much better than the takes that were exactly in tune.

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 05:04 PM
quote:
It was pretty noticeable when Tom Dowd isolated the slide lines on the multitracks in Tom Dowd and the Langauge of Music, that there were pitchy moments there . I suspect there were enough passes Dowd just edited them out


But it all blends together when the other instruments are playing and I would suspect most of those higher notes are probably sharp...

I tune Pianos as one of my music jobs and there is equal temperament but there is also stretch and as we tune a Piano when you get to the higher octaves you no longer tune to perfect octave but sharp stretched octaves.

In a sense Duane was doing that naturally because as you go higher you need to be a little sharp for it to sound in tune to the octaves below...same with the bass on a Piano it's stretched slightly flat

Violin players play stretched notes as the move up their finger board because they don't have frets to tell them where the notes are. Their ear drives the note to the outer limits of acceptable. The best players will chill you with this ability...Listen to Stephen Grappelli.... They also differentiate between Flats and sharps by playing them in slightly different positions

So those notes played by themselves blend when played with all the other instruments...this is how bands sound different. Every band has it's own intonation it's how we recognize them...it's their "Sound"

 

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  posted on 7/21/2015 at 10:00 PM
quote:
Just curious what forum?

Charlesinator: http://bfy.tw/vi3

To others: if a guitar or any instrument is out of tune, that is fact or not.

To ask if an instrument is out of tune doesn't imply the song doesn't move people.

Problem: confusing emotion with fact.

Never understood people getting their panties in a bunch over a factual question.

[Edited on 7/22/2015 by WaitinForRain]

 

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  posted on 7/22/2015 at 11:10 AM
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/12/2/162030/047

In Defense of Clapton's Layla

By Jason the Mathematical Solo Guitarist in Op-Ed
Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 10:17:13 AM EST

Recently, GuitarWorld magazine published a list of top 100 of the worst guitar solos, riffs and licks of all time. I am a big sucker for this sort of thing, so I swallowed the $7.95 price to purchase it, with a good expectation of what would be included. Just as literary scholars have a canon of great literature, the guitarist community has a canon of really awful guitar solos - including, for instance, Neil Young's infamous one-note Cinnamon Girl solo, anything by Van Halen, and anything played by Kurt Cobain. When I turned to the list, I suffered a cruel, horrible shock.

Their criteria for judging what solos were bad seemed minimal, something along the lines of "OMG 80S HAIR!!!11ONE!". Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl didn't make the list [see footnote], and I was disheartened by some of the bands that did - The Who, for example, was on there for their song "Eminence Front." While there were some bands that made the list who clearly deserved it - Poison - for example, I threw down the magazine confident that it was just a poorly generated list, and that no harm was meant.
Upon second examination, I saw a sidebar that I did not see before - songs renowned for their guitar solos that they considered bad. "Freebird" was on there, as was "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam, and one of my favorites - "Green Grass and High Tides" by the Outlaw. But what really crossed the line is Clapton's Layla recorded when he was with Derek and the Dominos.

Their argument? Putting a beautifully recorded piano track while Allman and Clapton were playing slide guitar out of tune.

There are a number of problems with this inappropriate critism. If you are familiar with the remarkable outro to Layla, you are familiar with the slide guitars building to the one. It starts with one slide guitar playing high on the fret board and progressively continues to two or 3 and then more slide guitars (and then a rhythm guitar). Each guitar plays a single note in the ensemble, and they all play their own parts, but what makes it different is that it sounds good. If you've ever tried recording your own music, you know how difficult it is to make 2 instruments playing different parts sound good, much less a plethora of them.

Their main criticism is that the slide guitars are out of tune. The problem with this statement is that it is impossible to prove. By definition, a slide guitar playing individual notes along the fretboard can never be shown to be in or out of tune, unless you are watching the guitarist play it live. Why? Because with a slide, you could hit, for example, a C, and you can hit a C#, but you can also hit every non-note in between, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Guitarists like to hit these notes, which I'll call "tweeners" for now on, and they do it with or without a slide guitar - every time a guitarist bends a string, they are hitting tweeners.

This counterargument doesn't kill the magazine's argument - you could always make the counterpoint, for example, that Clapton and Allman shouldn't hit those notes. Indeed, hitting only tweener's is simply bad guitar playing. And this would be the end of the story, if this were all there were to it.

Of course, there is more. As it turns out, the piano is "out-of-tune" itself. How does this happen? The original outro was recorded in the key of C, but later, during production, it was sped up. And what happens, ladies and gentleman, when you speed up a recording? The pitch becomes higher. This is actually a very common production trick used all the time to fix recordings that just don't sound right; the most popular example of this trick is The Car's "Best Friend's Girlfriend", originally recorded in E but later sped up to F. If you look at the music video, the guitarist is playing the song in E. If you listen to the live recording, the song is played in E (and it doesn't sound right). If you listen on the radio, the song was played in E but it sounds like it was played in F.

This was exactly what was done with the outro to Layla. It was recorded in C, and later sped up so it sounds like it was recorded in a higher key. If you'd like to see an interesting consequence of this, go into Google groups and try to find what key the outro to the song Layla is written in. You will find a whole bunch of people arguing amongst themselves - most of them claiming to have "perfect pitch." Most people argue C# or D, some people still argue C. The answer, of course, is none of those.

If you are a layman, it probably looks like this doesn't kill the magazines argument against Layla. "Surely now - albeit not Clapton or Allman's fault - it is the fault of the producer. They should have 'fixed' it in the production phase so that the instrumentalists wouldn't hit only tweener notes." At this point, though, it doesn't matter. In the original recording, the guitars and pianos were in tune with each other, so after production they are still in tune with each other, although in a key that somewhere in between C and C#. Because they are relatively in tune, the song works - none of the notes sound "sharp" or "off" and, in fact, it takes someone who is very able at guitar or has near perfect pitch to tell the difference.

The argument of the magazine was specious and insulting to one of the greatest guitar legends of all time. Although their mistake was of poor or complete lack of research into their article, it is somewhat embarassing that a magazine devoted to guitar would not know the story about one of the most famous, beautiful rock love songs of all time.

Footnote: At first glance, I was upset that Cinnamon Girl didn't make the list, but the list seemed to redeem itself by putting a Neil Young song in the 60s that, although didn't get much radio airplay, had TWO one-note guitar solos in it. Still, Cinnamon Girl is the classic **** solo and should have made the list.


 

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  posted on 7/22/2015 at 11:21 AM
quote:

Their main criticism is that the slide guitars are out of tune. The problem with this statement is that it is impossible to prove. By definition, a slide guitar playing individual notes along the fretboard can never be shown to be in or out of tune, unless you are watching the guitarist play it live. Why? Because with a slide, you could hit, for example, a C, and you can hit a C#, but you can also hit every non-note in between, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Guitarists like to hit these notes, which I'll call "tweeners" for now on, and they do it with or without a slide guitar - every time a guitarist bends a string, they are hitting tweeners.




Spot on article. Also, this is something the human voice does all the time, singing into and out of a pitch.

 

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  posted on 7/22/2015 at 11:25 AM
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  posted on 7/22/2015 at 05:52 PM
At least part of the equation was explained in the liner notes to the Layla box set, here's a big chunk for your reading pleasure...


One of Rinkoff's biggest challenges came in trying to match the varispeeding (the process of changing the tape speed) used by Dowd on large portions of Layla. (The title track itself was sped up by around 5%, where other cuts averaged around 2 to 3%). As Dowd recalls, "They'd play something and listen to it, and say 'It doesn't feel right, we should have done it at this tempo, used that effect, that kind of thing. So we'd VSO it up a bit for them. All of those technologies were very primitive in those days; they weren't things that you planned to do. It was more, 'It feels better, let's go that way.' You weren't worried about absolute As; as long as it didn't sound too chicken-ish, you went with it. Because Layla was done the way it was, we had to varispeed the front to match the back, so there are three different sections at slightly different speeds. We were using the technology to preserve the spirit of spontaneity, the integrity of the parts."


Considering that pitch, or being in key, has to do with how many cycles per second you are playing, if you speed up or slow down the recording, you are inherently messing with the pitch/intonation of the music you are manipulating.

For example, the "Absolute A" Tom Dowd talks about is usually 440 cycles per second. If that basic math is off, and if a song literally has THREE different versions of what "A" is, then yeah, it's probably not "in tune" strictly speaking.

It sure does sound good, though.

 
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  posted on 7/22/2015 at 07:21 PM
If he's out of tune.....he is "wonderfully out of tune"....doesn't change the emotional impact of the song for me.

 

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  posted on 7/23/2015 at 12:56 AM
Hmmm ... I went back reread axeman's initial post then I went to the gear page's thread which I assume started started all this. Things I found out ... 1. The out-of-tuneness in question appears in the coda or "outro" as some folks like to refer to it. As I stated the coda was recorded separately. Now we know that a VSO was used to match up the tracks. So ... Duane could've actually played in tune on the original and after speeding up the track may have pushed him into "pitchiness" (God I sound like I'm a judge on the Voice.) As I believe Rob noted that Clapton played some slide as well on the tune. Begs the question who is the guitarist that you're hearing out of tune? Also on another note ... It seems that the chief detractor of Layla (the song) and Diane's playing on the gear page's forum states that he prefers "punk music" (Isn't that about as oxymoronish as saying "rap music"?) So ... How does that qualify him to critique Duane's playing or music in general in the first place? Hey I'm open minded. If you don't like the song, you're entitled to your opinion. As for you WaitingForRain ... You can kiss my bunch pantied ass.

 

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