How Roger Waters made the clock sound in Pink Floyd song ‘Time’

After their captivating performance of ‘See Emily Play’ on ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1967, Pink Floyd appeared poised for global dominance. However, the early visionary, Syd Barrett, succumbed to the perils of LSD overuse and associated mental health issues, rendering him increasingly unreliable. David Gilmour stepped in to replace Barrett, and Roger Waters, the bassist, assumed the mantle of the band’s creative leader.

Navigating the late 1960s, Pink Floyd cultivated their psychedelic sound with a broad-minded, eclectic approach. Alongside contemporaries such as Genesis, Led Zeppelin, and King Crimson, Pink Floyd spearheaded the prog-rock movement with a style defined by its vibrant experimentalism.

In 1971, the band released “Meddle,” a remarkably eclectic album featuring synthesized sound effects on the rhythmic opener, ‘One of These Days,’ and embracing expansive, atmospheric composition in the side-two epic, ‘Echoes.’ While the digressive movie soundtrack album, “Obscured by Clouds,” arrived in 1972, “Meddle” is acknowledged as a precursor to the seminal triumph that followed in 1973: “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

Much like “Meddle,” “The Dark Side of the Moon” is a diverse tapestry of styles, tempos, and emotions, ranging from the heavy blues of ‘Money’ to Richard Wright’s arresting piano composition in ‘The Great Gig in the Sky.’ What elevated “The Dark Side of the Moon” above its peers was its seamless cohesion as a concept album.

With Waters at the conceptual helm, the record delves into existential anxiety, addressing themes of greed, death, insanity, and the relentless march of time. Impressively, Pink Floyd crafted “The Dark Side of the Moon” in a way that allows the songs on each side to blend into one another, forming a continuous musical narrative. The band ingeniously incorporated recurring motifs, including the heartbeat, a clinking cash register, insane laughter, footsteps, clock ticks, and alarms.

The introduction to ‘Time’ features multiple ticking clocks followed by a cacophony of alarms—an effect recorded by the legendary engineer Alan Parsons as a quadrophonic test in an antique store. Although not specifically intended for the album, it seamlessly fits Waters’ conceptual vision.

Interestingly, the distinctive clock tick sound leading into the main composition was crafted by Waters himself, using his bass guitar. Guy Pratt, Pink Floyd’s bassist in their later years, highlighted Waters’ brilliance in conceptualizing sounds beyond conventional bass techniques during a 2023 appearance on the Scott’s Bass Lessons podcast.

Pratt recalled the challenge of replicating the sound on stage, especially syncing it with a giant spinning clock cartoon during Floyd performances. “With Floyd, I had to do it in time with this giant cartoon of a spinning clock, and you have to be in time with the clock,” Pratt explained, shedding light on the intricate details that contributed to the immersive sonic experience created by Pink Floyd. Watch Guy Pratt demonstrate the clock tick sound in the full podcast episode below, providing a fascinating glimpse into the meticulous artistry behind Pink Floyd’s iconic compositions.


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