As a footnote, a brief phone interview was carried out with Tony a few years ago on the subject of his Mellotron use. The answers are, er, 'short and to the point', but a few queries are cleared up. Unfortunately, a few more are created, but that's another story...In the same page it is revealed what the sound in Watcher of the Skies is: mixed brass/strings with bass accordion. Ok, now I know how to arrange this for orchestra...
Q: The first part of the intro to "Watcher of the Skies" consists of mixed strings and brass played on the right-hand manual of the Mellotron Mk II.
A: Yes, this is true.
Tony is presumably referring to the studio version here, although the same goes for the live version during the Foxtrot period, including "Genesis Live".
Q: Was the left hand playing single notes on the left-hand manual of the Mellotron, using a sound called "Bass Accordion"?
Q: Was the bass part, which also consisted of single-note lines, played on the Hammond organ pedals?
Q: Did part of the Mellotron sound go through the Leslie 760 rotating speakers for a fuller sound?
A: Yes, but only because everything went through the Leslie.
This is especially interesting; sometimes you can hear that the 'Tron is going through a Leslie, but most of the time it sounds uneffected. Was Banks only referring to "Watcher"?
Q: Was the second part of the intro, consisting of descending 3rd intervals, played using the strings/brass mix (left hand), and Hammond organ (right hand)?
A: Can't remember for the studio recording, but yes for on stage.
Q: Was the left-hand manual on the Mellotron Mk II used for any other parts?
A: Can't remember.
Q: The Mellotron 400 that was used for the "Selling England" tour had the Mk II strings and brass. Was the left-hand Mellotron part now played on the Hammond?
There is video footage showing Tony playing the "Watcher" intro on the Hammond and Mellotron, so presumably he's referring to the bass part here, not the chords.
Q: Did he have a second tape frame for recording the flute parts on things like "Epping Forest" and "Lilywhite Lilith"?
A: Yes. He said he remembered having strings, brass, voices, flute and oboe.
So that clears that one up... the Mk.II (s) obviously went into retirement after the "Foxtrot" tour.
Q: Did Tony Banks ever use a Chamberlin tape replay keyboard?
A: No, but he did use some other type of tape replay.
What this might be remains a mystery. Surely not a Birotron?! A Chamberlin was found at the Farm (Genesis studio complex) by an equipment dealer, but presumably it was never used. Probably didn't work...
Q: What kind of string synthesiser did he use for the "Lamb" sessions?
A: Elka Rhapsody mixed with the Mellotron.
Q: Was the recording of "A Curious Feeling" (1979 solo album) the last time he used a Mellotron?
A: Unlikely, but not sure.
This answer is rather unclear. Does Banks mean that he used a Mellotron later (unlikely, it has to be said), or does he mean that it wasn't used on "A Curious Feeling"?
Q: Did the ARP Centaur prototype synth end up on any recording?
A: No. Never used it. (http://www.planetmellotron.com/revgenesis.htm)
Found this by chance (?): a phone interview with Tony Banks. Not many words, but any words from (any) god should be communicated.
Or, "it's the form, stupid."
It's the form. In Beethoven's case the form is all, because, it's a case of what note succeeds every other note. And in Beethoven's case, it's always the right note. —Leonard Bernstein Discussing Beethoven's 6th and 7th SymphonyOn this video Bernstein makes other statements about Beethoven that can be misunderstood as negative; please make sure you understand the context; the response video Defending Beethoven might help, and its also very instructive and fun on its own.
The classical approach must be carefull not to fall into the error of making the arrangement more important than the "song." Which mistake we could call the "wall of sound effect", from the "wall of sound" technique associated of Phil Spector:
He buried the lead and he cannot stop himself from doing that. If you listen to his records in sequence, the lead goes further and further in and to me what he is saying is, "It is not the song... just listen to those strings. I want more musicians, it's me." —Jeff Barry (Wikipedia)