Joy Division and atonality

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teleharmonium
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Post by teleharmonium » Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:04 pm

NeglectedFred wrote:I'm sure someone will be quick to jump in with the specifics, but forgive me for not remembering which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I don't think much of New Order's vocals either.. Aren't they pretty much the same band but the guitarist took over the mic when the original singer died?
Barney makes Ian Curtis look like Tony Bennett.

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Post by trevord » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:47 am

hehe
try this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX_K1wb-S9s

to me there are two issues
1) going off like in a live performance where delivering energy is more important - who cares - its the vibe at that point - some genres can handle it - some can't

2) going slightly off to get some kind of resonating effect - like remember that eastern european womens choir that was all the rage a while back.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrcgDhpS ... re=related

there is something to listening to an instrument and adjusting your voice to create overtones - if the instrument is correctly tuned then your are off - but the sound is unexpectedly pleasing I think this is called dissonance ?
anyway it is very pleasing when done right - even if initially unpleasant - once you get into it - you "get" what the artist is trying to do

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Joy Division doc

Post by lukievan » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:04 pm

By the way, Pitchfork is streaming a very good Joy Division documentary:

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/d ... y-division

From the site:
Director Grant Gee's 2007 film Joy Division tells the story of the legendary Manchester band fronted by the late Ian Curtis. Included are interviews with surviving members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris (who went on to form New Order), in addition to conversations with writer Paul Morley, the Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley, photographer and director Anton Corbijn, and more. Vintage performances captured in clubs and on television complete this documentary portrait.

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Post by Fieryjack » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:02 pm

I agree with the assertion that Ian Curtis likely didn't even know he was out of key and he probably wasn't even a very "good singer". The thing that made his vocals special was the quality of his low voice--and--I believe--the way his emotions would swing from almost an outside observer to being very emotionally involved (thinking particularly of Transmission).

I think the only "talented" players in Joy Division were Stephen Morris (drummer) and of course Peter Hook--they were the "anchor" of their sound. Bernard Sumner's guitar was at times laughably out of tune and he was very mediocre technically.

But still--somehow it all added up to something great. Mark E. Smith...that's another story. It's almost as if The Fall's "sound" almost requires a couple of out of tune guitars at its very foundation.....

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Post by percussion boy » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:19 pm

This raised a lot of questions for me about tuning and recording in general . . .

. . . so I made a new thread about pitch. Stop by and speak your minds . . .
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Post by 47ronin » Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:18 pm

teleharmonium wrote:
NeglectedFred wrote:I'm sure someone will be quick to jump in with the specifics, but forgive me for not remembering which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I don't think much of New Order's vocals either.. Aren't they pretty much the same band but the guitarist took over the mic when the original singer died?
Barney makes Ian Curtis look like Tony Bennett.
Here's a good example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw5uUZkc ... re=related

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Re: Joy Division doc

Post by vapour trail » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:31 am

lukievan wrote:By the way, Pitchfork is streaming a very good Joy Division documentary:

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/d ... y-division

[/i]
i saw it a few days ago, and was totally flabbergasted. it's really one of the best i've seen. check it out!

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Post by asmara » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:10 am

Judas Jetski wrote: When I read (in the liner notes to Permanent 1995) that Joy Division was seeking to find "indescribable beauty in absolute ugliness," it kind of stands to reason that Ian's vocal anomaly was intentional.
being an enormous fan of JD/NO I had the opportunity to visit Manchester in 2005 and I think that quote kind of describes the city landscape. A very industrial type of city (at least in the northern quarter and central areas.

I would guess Ian was doing the best he could as a singer with minimal training. I really love the drum sounds they got.
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Post by Rolsen » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:16 pm

The recent Joy Division movie, Control, which was supposedly pretty true to reality, featured The Doors music and posters in Ian's room in some early scenes - this struck me because I always thought I heard a little Jim Morrison in his delivery. This may be entirely untrue and coincidental though...

I have my doubts on whether any out-of-tune vocal delivery was intentional. I think we could detect intentional out-of-tuneness as a technique. The fact that he sounds so 'naturally' out-of-tune is because when he opened his mouth, that is what naturally came out! The guy deserves credit, but not that much credit!

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Post by Judas Jetski » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:23 pm

Ah, all you guys are probably right. It probably was a native inability, not a cultivated inability that made Ian's vocal delivery so ... gripping. And off-pitch.

Still, it's an interesting thought... especially that stuff about pitch-shifting.
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Post by vvv » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:18 am

Just wanna say I got inspired and bought the recent remastered "best of".

This band's stuff makes me feel so deliciously down ...
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Post by Judas Jetski » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:08 pm

Ha! Deliciously down. I know just what you mean.

It's pretty riveting stuff, if you ask me. Usually I find that I can only listen for so long without the mood affecting my mindset in unhealthy ways, but these last few months that hasn't really happened. Mostly since I got ahold of Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! Maybe it's some sort of weird Nick Cave Effect.
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Post by teleharmonium » Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:00 pm

Can you guys be specific about what among the JD studio recordings you hear as being out of tune ?

The only thing that immediately comes to my mind is "Heart and Soul", but I don't think it's out of tune as such. The way I hear it, in the chorus when he sings the word "...burn", sometimes he's hitting the root, other times he takes it down to a major 7th which is a dissonant note in a minor key (particularly when preceded by the minor third). Sometimes he hits the maj7 and slowly bends it up to the root.

To me, this is a well constructed counter to the way he uses both the flat five and the perfect fifth at various times for the word "and" in "heart and soul" in the preceding line of each chorus. That is of couse a standard bluesy use of the pitch bend between the b5 and the 5 and obviously intentional.

I also don't see much room for arguing the point that dissonance in that vocal is intentional, considering the heavy use of the flat five, he hangs out on that flat five (normally a passing tone when used this way) like he's got all day to make you uncomforable, and the fact that the lyrics in question are "heart and soul, one will burn".

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Post by Judas Jetski » Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:23 am

It's funny, because "Heart and Soul" is what made me start this thread. It's obvious that he's either doing it on purpose there, or doing it unintentionally but holding it out for effect. "Autosuggestion" has a similar effect, where he's singing "Here" before each verse. He dips below pitch consistently, before resolving to the "right" note at the end of the word. Again, the consistency makes me think it's intentional.

Seems like he's a little off-pitch in "These Days" on the chorus, when singing the last "she's lost control" in any given chorus of "She's Lost Control," the first line in "Transmission" (where he goes sharp on the line "radio"), somewhere in "Insight," but I can't remember where off the top of my head. Really, it's all over the place. I'm still not entirely convinced that it's not at least partly intentional. Like I said before, the Peel Sessions are mostly on pitch compared to the "studio" recordings, and they were mostly tracked live (with some overdubs). So it seems like he could turn it on and off.

It sounds to me as though he had a voice which was not easy to keep on pitch in the lower register. It can take a lot of energy to push enough air to make a low voice sound good, and it seems to me like the size of the larynx probably has a lot to do with how much muscle it takes to hold a pitch. Ian apparently really liked to belt it out, so it stands to reason that he might have had to sacrifice pitch for power. It seems like this genre of music supports anomalies like that anyway... think about "Terror Couple Kill Colonel" by Bauhaus. Not too many people would criticize Peter Murphy's vocal technique in general, but he wanders quite a bit in that song.
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Post by teleharmonium » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:35 am

Of those references I think what you refer to in Autosuggestion and She's Lost Control are intentional, while I doubt that is the case for Transmission and These Days. He was surely not a great singer, and going out of tune toward the beginning of a song, or just a little in an inconsistent way, I think is just the limits of his technique and his work ethic showing.

The guy's chief vocal inspirations, as far as I can tell, would have been Bowie, Iggy, Lou Reed, Elvis, Jim Morrison, David Thomas, Johnny Rotten, probably Klaus Dinger, possibly Marc Bolan, and Ian's cross town competition Mark E. Smith. And he was into Throbbing Gristle and knew Genesis P-Orridge. Within that group there is plenty of precedent for wide vibrato, lazy but character laden vocal chops, and the idea of making aesthetically unusual (some might say terrible) choices about vocal style and then sticking to them doggedly.

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