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I remember a radio interview with some members of Pink Floyd concerning the making of The Dark Side of the Moon and in particular some comments around the track On the Run.

Anyone who knows this song will remember that it's very 'looped' and 'sampled' but, of course it was recorded before the advent of computers and (useful) synthesisers.

In the interview they discussed using 'miles' of tape loops that were ranged across the studio floor during the recording to get the effects that they wanted.

The quesiton is, are there any photos of this anywhere ? I'd love to see how it used to be done.

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    I'm not going to post this as an answer because I have no concrete proof, but I'd bet he greatly exaggerated. Most loops back in those days were probably shorter than 20 feet of tape, if even that long. What you would do is cut a piece of tape, give it a half-twist and tape it together. This gave you twice as much running time (40 feet), and you would simply place a pencil in a thread spool X feet away and loop the tape around the spool. Run the tape and you have your loop. If you were doing it in time, you wouldn't do that for more than 8 beats, so "miles" would be unnecessary. – Johnny Bones Feb 25 '15 at 16:12
  • Anecdotally related - I remember once using a second 24-track & striping down about 5 minutes of each stereo pair from tape loops of multitrack voice 'ahhs' in various notes which we had spent the day blocking out. We then ran that to the main machine [not in sync] playing the faders on the desk to bounce the appropriate notes/chords down to the main multitrack as a single stereo pair, to achieve the final vox pad track for the song. Early sampling, I guess ;) – Tetsujin Feb 27 '15 at 12:58
  • btw, I doubt you could successfully make Möbius strips from tape - the back would be dull as all heck compared to the front. – Tetsujin Feb 27 '15 at 13:00
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It's not sampled or looped. "On the Run" was created entirely using a VCS-3. No crazy tape tricks beyond a few overdubs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccBoypwQ9zA

EDIT:

Thought I might expand on that a bit.
The Floyd were indeed pioneers in the control room, but not quite at the technical level that is generally assumed. Check out this article for some pictures of some early electronic music pioneers and the processes you're describing. These practices were already well established by the time the Pink Floyd came about.

As far as miles of tape loops ranged across the studio floor, the terminology probably creates a bit of confusion. I think they meant the total amount of tape used for all the loops. Since we're probably talking about 15 inches of tape per second, those loops can get pretty large. For example the loop of sound effects at the beginning of "Money" is about 4 seconds, which makes it about 5 feet long. Considering all the loops present in the entire album, that's an awful lot of tape.

As far as the tape being ranged across the studio floor:

Vladimir Ussachevsky

That's how loops were done back in the day. Tape was very expensive, it's not something you'd want literally touching the floor.

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