Bleached is a musical term that describes the process of deliberately distorting or altering the sound of a recording to create a certain effect. Bleaching can be done in a number of different ways, including overdriving the input of audio equipment, using distortion pedals or software, and changing the equalization settings to create a more “bleached” sound. This article will explore the history of bleaching in music, as well as some of the most popular techniques used by musicians and producers to achieve this effect.
2. The Origins of Bleaching in Music
The origins of bleaching in music can be traced back to the 1950s and 60s, when recording engineers began experimenting with new techniques to make their recordings stand out from the crowd. One of the most famous examples of bleaching from this era is the guitar sound on The Kinks’ hit song “You Really Got Me.” Frustrated with the clean, precise sound of his guitar on previous recordings, guitarist Dave Davies deliberately slashed the speaker of his amplifier with a razor blade, creating a distorted and “bleached” sound that became a hallmark of the song.
3. Techniques for Bleaching in Music
There are a number of different techniques that can be used to achieve a bleached sound in music. Some of the most popular include:
3.1 Overdriving Equipment
One of the simplest ways to get a bleached sound is to overdrive the input of your recording equipment. This can be done by turning up the gain on your amplifier or microphone preamp, or by clipping the input signal using a hardware pressor or software plugin.
3.2 Using Distortion Pedals
One of the most popular ways to create a bleached sound on guitars and other instruments is to use a distortion pedal. These pedals work by artificially simulating the sound of an overdriven amplifier, adding harmonic distortion and sustain to the signal.
3.3 Equalization Settings
Changing the equalization settings on your recording equipment can also be an effective way to bleach a sound. This can be done by boosting or cutting certain frequencies, or by applying a high-pass or low-pass filter to remove unwanted frequencies.
4. Examples of Bleached Music
There are many examples of bleached music throughout history. Some of the most famous examples include:
4.1 “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks
As mentioned earlier, “You Really Got Me” is one of the most famous examples of bleaching in music. The bleached guitar sound on the song was achieved by slashing the speaker of Dave Davies’ amplifier with a razor blade.
4.2 “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
The distorted guitar sound on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was achieved using a bination of a Fender Mustang guitar and a Mesa Boogie amplifier. The result was a bleached, overdriven sound that became one of the defining sounds of grunge music in the 1990s.
4.3 “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles
The Beatles were pioneers of bleaching in music, and “Tomorrow Never Knows” is one of their most famous examples of the technique. The song features extensive use of tape loops and other psychedelic effects to create a swirling, otherworldly sound that was considered groundbreaking at the time.
In conclusion, bleaching is a powerful and versatile technique that has been used by musicians and producers for decades. Whether you’re looking to create a bleached-out guitar sound or add a touch of distortion to your vocals, there are many ways to achieve the effect. By experimenting with different techniques and equipment, you can create a unique sound that sets you apart from the crowd and helps you stand out as a musician or producer.