bethylated-spirits asked: Hey Jey, Blue Monday is EXACTLY what i needed today and It reminded me of a question that i was thinking i should ask you (as my source of all New Order knowledgfulness). i thought i saw/read somewhere (maybe in/about 24 Hour Party People?) that the syncopation on the drum track for this song was actually a mistake—someone started it half a beat too soon/too late in the studio or something and it sounded so good they kept it. Is this trufax or did i imagine it?
You’re right! I can’t say exactly where you might have learnt that, because it’s been discussed in all sorts of places, but yes, the beat and the melody are out of sync with one another. It isn’t the drums that are off (relative to what New Order originally intended), though; it’s the sequencer track.
If you listen to it (here's the original), you can hear where the beats fall in the bass drum line, and if you follow the rhythm, you can also hear the way the melody falls in between the strong beats.
It’s actually a really easy mistake to make, because in order to create “Blue Monday,” New Order went through all sorts of electronic equipment - for instance, the drum line is on an Oberheim DMX drum machine with effects; the bass line is through a Moog Source and sequenced using a machine Bernard Sumner built himself (as were many of their early works, because they couldn’t afford a proper sequencer); some of it, I’ve heard, was done with punch and step recording (techniques where it’s quite easy to drop a single beat or note); and there are vocoders, electronic drums, all sorts of things. Frankly, it’s a miracle there aren’t more accidentally-syncopated songs out there!
(Random side note unrelated to New Order: I was listening to Dick Mills, one of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound engineers, talking about constructing the early Doctor Who soundtracks, and he was discussing exactly this process. The early equipment in the sound shop included a punch-tape sequencer, and he and the other Radiophonic staff used to roll the tapes out all throughout the corridors of the building, start at one end, and go all the way down to the other end checking each note on the tape to ensure they didn’t end up missing beats. So you can imagine what a laborious process it must have been!)
hey, you guys that live in the northeastern United States can I just tell you about a thing
(he’s got a whole two-week tour of major American cities; check this out if you’re not near New York)
but then after that, on the same goddamned day
the Strummerville foundation (set up in memory of Joe Strummer to support music development around the world) are having a benefit show at the Bowery Electric, celebrating the life and music of Joe Strummer and The Clash
and the book signing is free and the gig is twenty dollars a person
and these are musicians that changed the face of the entire music world forever
and we are not going to talk about
how absolutely gutted I am that I live less than three hours from New York and can’t get there how I have the most incredible boyfriend in the entire world ever and we are going to New York for the book signing and the concert because he can work miracles apparently
but we are, we are going to talk about how amazing these people are (you already know how I feel about Joe Strummer, and if you don’t yet know how I feel about Joy Division and The Clash, you, uh, may want to think twice about unleashing that avalanche)
and we are going to talk about the fact that this is kind of a mind-blowing opportunity and it’s never going to happen again and if there is any possible way that you can make it to New York for this stuff
you should go.
so, uh, this is a signal boost, I guess.
and if you do go,
please tell me about it. but maybe not until afterward, because of that whole gutted thing you can say hi to me and Giles because we are going to be there