Dave Harries was the sound engineer of TEB's "Macbeth" soundtrack recorded at George Martin's Air Studios (London) in the second half of 1971. Quite accidentally, surfin' on the waves of the Web I've been so lucky to meet him, he's been so kind to accept a short interview about his past...
Here's this Special Thing.
Dave Harries on December 19, 2011 (photo by David McSherry)
Describing the Macbeth's soundtrack project to the press ("Sounds" magazine) in 1972 Glen Sweeney said: "We originally were going to use a small dubbing theatre at Air and we thought we would rehearse the film score, but on the first few clips - they only sent the movie on a clip at the time, you see - things went to well that we eventually sent the dubbing theatre up and plugged it into an eight-track and it became the original film soundtrack, part from overdubbing... (...) The way we did it mainly was by viewing the clip that they needed music for and them maybe somebody would have musical idea which we would try out, and if nobody had any ideas then we would hope for the best and try again. And it worked nearly one hundred per cent. I mean, the ideal way would have been to get someone to write the whole score and hire a bunch of studio musicians to play it". Is this description correct?
How did you meet the band? Did you know them before to start the recording sessions?
"I first met the band because they started the project with our film recording engineer Jack Clegg but he didn't like working with multitrack recording so he asked me to take over the recording along with assistant Bill Barringer".
Can you tell us your career at that point?
"I started work at EMI Studios in 1964 as a technical engineer staying there for 6 years and working with all the famous bands of the era including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Hollies, Beach Boys and many more. I left in 1970 to join George Martin helping to set up the new Air Studios in Oxford Circus".
One of the rare photo taken at the Macbeth recording sessions.
Which was your exact role in the recording process at Air Studios?
"I was the recording engineer responsible for the sound and the organisation of the sessions. I recorded the band to multitrack locked to the picture and mixed the music down to two track magnetic. Also I mixed and edited the soundtrack album".
Do you remember which was the equipment you used for recording the music?
"I was speaking with Bill Barringer yesterday about the equipment. We think we used a Studer A80 8 track machine the a 50Hz pulse on track 8 to synchronise with the film.
We mixed down to stereo or maybe three track to an Albrecht film recorder. The projectors in that room were Phillips. Microphones mostly would have been Neumann U87 or U67, maybe an STC 4038 on drums.The whole track was Dolbied and we had regular visits from Elner Stetter of Dolby throughout the recordings".
What can you tell about the condition of the band in the studio (I mean if they were competent about playing and recording, if they used to get drugs, if they were serious worker...)?
In a recent interview with myself, Paul Buckmaster stated: "Glen, Paul, Richard and Denny trusting me with my suggestions. For example, I actually wrote the dreary "Witches Song", which we played, and sang. The singing was done by the five of us; Roman wanted it to be "kind of disgusting"… We did a certain amount of overdubbing, to create a more dense texture in places, with me and Richard making clustery string harmonies… I think the End Titles is one of the better pieces in the score; Denny contributed a lot to that, and a great driving pulse from Glen! I believe Denny composed "Fleance's Song" with Paul… but we're all credited as co-writers, which was Glen's democratic, egalitarian virtue". Was the role of Buckmaster so decisive into the composing and recording process?
"Paul Buckmaster was an integral part of the band, particularly contributing to the more modern sounding pieces which were almost becoming classical musically".
"Fleance's Song was recorded by Jack Clegg and Bill in Studio 2 at Oxford Circus. I mixed it with Bill in Studio 4 along with everything else. It was so good and very commercial that at the time we all agreed that it should be released by EMI as a single but the record company didn't agree".
Which was the real contribution in the studio work of George Martin?
"To my knowledge George didn't have anything to do with the recording of "Macbeth"".
"Didn't get an invitation to the premiere".
Have you got any stuff, photos or something else about that experience that you wish to share with the Archive's readers?
"Unfortunately I don't have any pictures or anything. I will do some research however. I hope that the above is of help.
All the best, Dave Harries".