beatles "in my life"

So, I’m a bit behind on the music scene… What’s the scoop on the name of the instrument that sounds like a harpsichord in the solo?

What’s the name of the instrument?

Tell me a human hand didn’t play ALL those notes THAT fast.
Thanks in advance.

It’s a piano sped up.

I think I read somewhere that the Beatles recorded the song and left a spot in the recording for a to-be-named-leter instrument. The instrument ended up being George Martin’s piano at double-time.


Actually, its a harpsicord. It may be speeded up, but it’s George Martin going for a full-on Bach well-tempered clavier thing…

It’s a harpsichord. Martin slowed down the tape and played along at pitch. He then sped the tape back up to its proper speed. It’s a simple recording technique that is used frequently. However, there are many people who can play that fast without help. It’s not that fast. There are some beautiful lines in that solo, though.

It’s not a harpsicord.

It’s not a harpisocrd.


No matter how you spell it, it’s still NOT a harpsicord.

From The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn :

“…he (George Martin) decided on a piano, though there was a problem in playing the type of solo he wanted, baroque style, at the right tempo. The solution was to play at half the speed and then play back the tape at double-speed.”

Also, I believe Martin decided to add that to the recording without any input from the Beatles, recorded it himself, mixed it, added it to the song, then played the finished result for the Beatles, and they loved it.

I always thought Martin should have gotten a co-writing credit on that song.

Martin had nothing to do with the writing of the song. His input concerned the arrangement.

I guess it’s a piano.

I guess it’s a piano.

I was initially skeptical of the “piano” cites, due to the way the speed-doubling and attendant alteration of the decay characteristic of the notes makes it sound so UNlike a piano; upon listening at half speed (and the solo is conveniently isolated in one channel of the stereo mix, due to the recording conventions of the time and Mr. Martin’s preferences), it clearly is a piano.

I do not believe it would be inappropriate or unlawful to post the relevant excerpt (17 seconds, half of the stereo mix) for the curious - but I don’t really want to test that principle here on these forums. I do however recommend giving it a listen if you have the CD and the sound processing software available.

He wrote that entire section of the song. The Beatles had no input whatsoever. He didn’t just arrange the stuff the Beatles wrote.

Again: that’s assisting with the arrangement, not the songwriting. Playing an instrument and helping with the arrangement are not the same as songwriting. This is a traditional distinction.