S+V: What did you change or modify with the driving strings on the “Livin’ Thing” choruses?
Lynne: Actually, there’s probably less strings on all of it. To get the same sound in the old days, I’d be using a 30-piece string section [as first done on 1974’s “Eldorado Overture”]. Here, I’m using some string samplers and two real violins and maybe one real cello. It sounds tighter, but it sounds just as big as 30 of them did 35 and 40 years ago.
S+V: Back then, you had the players crowded into small rooms, trying to match overdubs and levels.
Lynne: I always wanted the strings to be dry. Most people like to put reverb on strings, but I don’t. I don’t like it at all. I like to get the room to be small, and I want it to stop when I want it to stop, when you stop playing. That was a big deal. For Out of the Blu , we were actually booked into this big, giant room in Munich, and it was awful; it had such a big, horrible echo. I couldn’t stand it. We were stuck on this one song [part of Side 3’s over- all “Concerto for a Rainy Day”], and I said, “This isn’t working. I’ve gotta get out of here. We have to leave.” I felt really bad because I had to walk out on it. We asked all the string players to this little studio in Munich, and they all brought their own chairs and everything. It was probably 40 of them crammed into a room not much bigger than my kitchen, but it sounded great because it was dry as a bone, and that’s the sound that I love.
S+V: I can also hear the piano a lot more clearly on these mixes, especially on some of the intros.
Lynne: You can thank the brand-new recordings for that. In the old days, a lot of the recordings were done on 16-track, and I’d have to band so much that you started to lose a bit of quality, say banding 4 tracks down to 2, or 6 down to 3 — something like that to make more space, all of the time. You mix them down to the same tape and they’re still there, but you have levels pre-balanced and how loud it’s going to sound when you finally finish the record. Nowadays in ProTools, I’ve got, like, 190 tracks, and that’s why digital is so much fun. But I still go through my analog equipment first and put it on digital last.
S+V: Some of your early work was presented in mono, stereo, and even quad. Do you have a format preference?
Lynne: I do like working in stereo, but I don’t like to make much of it. I like to keep it all very solid. I don’t like to have things separated by miles in space. I like to keep my mixes as a cohesive package that has a punch to it.
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