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Wallflower

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Wilderness
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Reply with quote  #1 
I find that a lot of Joy Division live recordings are at the incorrect pitch. Has anyone else noticed this? It seems most recordings are one note higher than they should be.

Let me give you an example. The AUD#1 recording of the Zoo Meets Factory Halfway (August 27, 1979) gig. Know how I can tell? I need a capo on fret one to mimic any of the songs. "Colony" is especially bad in this regard.

It is impossible for me to tell if the live recordings are EXACTLY one note off. It could be like 1.2 or 1.3 notes higher than it should be. I just don't know. But I was editing the previously mentioned gig and it definitely seemed to me that one note lower is at least closer to the album versions of the songs to actually play to.

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TJ_Davidson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Ever listened to the live disc in the H&S box set? That recording from the Factory gig runs also way too fast.
Atarubarreau

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallflower
I find that a lot of Joy Division live recordings are at the incorrect pitch. Has anyone else noticed this? It seems most recordings are one note higher than they should be.

Let me give you an example. The AUD#1 recording of the Zoo Meets Factory Halfway (August 27, 1979) gig. Know how I can tell? I need a capo on fret one to mimic any of the songs. "Colony" is especially bad in this regard.

It is impossible for me to tell if the live recordings are EXACTLY one note off. It could be like 1.2 or 1.3 notes higher than it should be. I just don't know. But I was editing the previously mentioned gig and it definitely seemed to me that one note lower is at least closer to the album versions of the songs to actually play to.

I think it depends on your felling about old tapes sounding: personally, I love both sounds, high pitched guitars and weird synths, and usuall Joy Division sound.
That's where someone like Fage is really important: he makes the recording sounds closer to the original sound, and, thanks to him, you can listen to both versions, original and Fage Reworked.

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ravachol

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Reply with quote  #4 
I think most live recording were made on not too expensive tape-decks and these often don't have the correct speed like 4,75 cm/sec. As long as you use the same machine for playback it doesn't matter, but if you play it on another machine with a different speed, the trouble starts...

And many of these live-tapes are second or third generation tapes.

But some of the original studio releases are kind of intentional pitched too.
Atmosphere for example. I'm pretty sure the original is in C and the essential chords are C maj and F. But it is whether C nor C# on the official release.
So I'm pretty sure the tape was slowed down a bit to let Ian feel more comfortable or to make his voice sound a bit "fuller".

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TJ

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Reply with quote  #5 
Of course nobody at all believes that they had to pitch the instrumentation to suit Ian's vocal limitations...
bobbydriver

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Reply with quote  #6 

Whilst it’s probable that most live tapes are pitched wrong due to multiple dubs on different machines, it’s not always that clear cut.

 

For example, The Smiths played loads of stuff with Marr’s guitar fretted at the 2nd fret, which threw me for years when trying to work out what he was playing (pre-youtube!)

 

Also a lot of bands tune down a half tone when playing live as it makes for a much fatter live sound

 https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/524311-why-did-everyone-tune-down-half-step-90s.html

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E%E2%99%AD_tuning

 That said, I doubt that Joy Division tuned down to Eb for gigs, but plenty of others do

Wallflower

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Reply with quote  #7 
Bobbydriver, the thing is that the tuning seems one step higher, not lower. It sounds like they have capos on the first fret of the guitar and bass.

It is possible the band changed their tuning live, but I find it doubtful that they would tune up. Besides, some gigs just sound way too fast. They were a punkier band live, especially in the earlier days, but some recordings still just sound unnaturally fast, like the Zoo Meets Factory Halfway gig.

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Komackino
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Reply with quote  #8 
It's more that the tapers machines ran slow whilst recording, then it would be faster when played back on a deck that didn't.

Also, when copied between machines you'd get speed changes, in that pre-digital world.
Atarubarreau

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Reply with quote  #9 
All of this is obvious, so do you guys plan to do something about it than ?
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bobbydriver

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Reply with quote  #10 
Yes - I think all the JD tapes I've heard that are fast are down to tape speed issues, I was just pointing out that sometimes other bands do tune differently to play live, but I'm 99% sure JD didn't
Atarubarreau

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Reply with quote  #11 
Yeah sure
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Wallflower

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Reply with quote  #12 
Near as I can tell, it was rather un-punk and unfashionable to use capos. I've asked this site before whether the band used capos or not and it seems they did not.

I have been working on editing the pitch digitally. Essentially, this boils down to just me tuning it down half a step. Like I said, there's no way to gauge perfect accuracy. There are too many factors, like tape speed and the exact tuning of the instruments during the show, slightly off or perfectly tuned. Given how Peter is tone deaf and couldn't tune his instrument without Bernard's aid, I figure that Bernard's instrument is normally the more accurately tuned, so when editing, even if the bass seems off, as long as the guitar is somewhat close, then I can manage.

Personally, re-tuning the gigs REALLY helps me listen to them. I always had a hard time getting through a lot of the lesser quality recordings, because they combined both poor-ish quality with bad tuning and incorrect speeds. Basically, combining bad quality with unnatural sounds does not sit well for me. At least now, it sounds more Joy Division, if that makes any sense. [tongue]

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Recording_silence

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Reply with quote  #13 
As has been said already, the main culprit seems to be the cassette-tape deck. I grew up in the 80's (alas, was only 12 when JD became NO). From taping off the radio, and from exchanging/making tape mixes, I just got to accept it as a known, that the more you dub a recording from cassette to cassette, the more that recording speeds up.
There seems to be several factors in play here: Firstly, gigs would be taped by audience members using battery-powered cassette recorders. If the batteries weren't new, their reduced power would drive the motor more slowly, hence a speeded-up recording when played back at full power. But also, I think it's possible that on twin-cassette decks (for dubbing from one tape to another), perhaps the "playing" tape ran slightly slower than the "recording" tape, because you would notice this effect even on multi-generation taped bootlegs of rare records (as opposed to gigs).
For example, when I posted my "full version" of the Steve Morris interview from Something Else about 6 months ago, my n'th generation tape was very fast. I had to pitch-correct it by at least 10% downwards on Audacity (I did this by making a recording of the opening of the performance of "She's Lost Control" sourced from a Youtube vid, and laying that track alongside my digital transfer of the SE interview, which ends with the opening drumbeats of SLC. I slowed down the interview so that the waveforms of the drums were perfectly in time with the other audio track).
Also, back in the 90's I recorded lots of my own demo songs on a Yamaha Portastudio, which used ordinary cassettes. Several years ago, I decided to transfer these to digital and work on them, and so I played my tapes back through the portastudio, one track at a time (drums, then bass, etc) onto Audacity. I'd transfer the drum track, then rewind and do the bass, then rewind again and do the guitar, etc. I noticed a curious thing: When I came to sync all the digital tracks together, they would often not stay in perfect time with each other throughout the song, even though they were so, on the cassette! Do tape machines vary their speed as the machine warms up, I wondered to myself.
daz

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Reply with quote  #14 
Everything JD did had the pitch fiddled with.
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