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Following up on yesterday’s session, today Paul added his bass to “Getting Better,” Ringo overdubbed some more drums, and George busted out his tambura.

What is a tambura, you may ask? To the Wikipedia:

The tanpura (or tambura, tanpuri) is a long-necked plucked string instrument found in various forms in Indian music; it does not play melody but rather supports and sustains the melody of another instrument or singer by providing a continuous harmonic bourdon or drone…. The name tanpura is derived from tana, referring to a musical phrase, and pura, which means “full” or “complete.” Hindustani musicians favour the term “tanpura” whereas Carnatic musicians say “tambura.”

George, eager to Indian up everything in sight during this period, also played this instrument on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Within You Without You.” I assume that he learned it during his sojourn in India in late 1966.

The drone was still a new thing in popular music at this time, though across the Atlantic, it had been used on a single called “The Ostrich” way back in 1964. Written by a young Lou Reed and credited to a band called the Primitives, which included John Cale, “The Ostrich” featured a guitar with all the strings tuned to the same note. Reed and Cale would continue along similar lines in the band they subsequently formed; more about that in a couple days.

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