Radiohead’s “Let Down” – transcription of weird keyboard blips

This post is for educational purposes only. (That said, download it not just in case someone says it’s not educational.)

I was looking for a while for a transcription of the computer keyboard parts played at 3:27-3:41 and 4:39-4:53 of “Let Down” on OK Computer, only so that I could conceptualize how it was done. It’s taken me a while but I’ve finished the second section (4:39-4:53), the clearer of the two, by slowing it down in Performer and then transcribing the left (higher keys) and right (lower keys) channels separately.

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The timing for the right channel (above) is about double of the original tempo (making it 204) and the timing for the left channel (below) is a non-synced 266.

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Will shortly post the analysis but, in short, I can’t see any repetitive pattern in this one, seems computer-generated. If you find a deeper pattern, my hat will be off to you.



The ultimate Prince tribute (May 6, 5:07pm)

On May 6, at 5:07pm, it will be “7 hours and 15 days since [Prince] took his love away”. This, of course, is the opening line from “Nothing Compares 2 U”, one of his greatest songs.

I’m calling for the internet to pay tribute to Prince by posting the following meme to social media at 5:07pm on May 6. (It’s probably easiest to save the image to your desktop and schedule it now to update later on.)

prince meme

Let’s break the internet, just like our hearts are broken right now.


(Many thanks to Sydney for creating the meme during class)




How To Make Your G Chords Sound Great

I don’t like particularly like the sound of the usual open G chord ( 3 2 0 0 0 3 ) and much prefer to mute the A string (3 x 0 0 0 3). I think I have found the reason why I don’t like the B on the 5th string.

Some suggest it’s due to thirds always being more out of tune but I’m not convinced because there’s still a B (the 3rd) on the second string and I’m also not a tuning freak like Jack Endino. So, I think the answer lies in voicing and the overtone series.

The overtone series (or the notes that are produced as you successively cut the string in half, thirds, quarters etc.) of G is as follows:

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If we take my revised chord, we see that the notes on the guitar basically follow the middle of the overtone series:

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.43.10 PM.png

Adding the B (as in the standard G chord) adds the following note towards the bottom of the series:

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.43.56 PM

So, perhaps the altered version with the muted string sounds more pleasing to me because it is more consistent with the overtone series. And, if you added a G on bass guitar, you’d have the whole series except for the slightly off-putting F harmonic.

I also applied this idea to the C-chord to give (x 3 x 0 1 0), and I like that more, too. It’s not just the ease of playing, but the sound.

Basic rule (poor version): chords sound nicer if the notes are more spaced out at the bottom and more bunched together at the top.

Basic rule (better version): chords sound nicer the more they follow an overtone series

Sonic Youth rule (for another day): Let’s mess with this.



Does the acquisition of Pitchfork change anything?

The big news today is that Pitchfork has been acquired by the owners of Vanity Fair, Vogue etc. I don’t think it changes anything, but it does highlight the economics of websites, or what I call cool laundering.

Stage 1. Exchange cool for attention (or money). Someone creates something fun or innovative. Pitchfork or someone covers it in order to appear cooler, and the artist gains exposure (ie. the attention of readers) in exchange. This is a type of mercantile exchange, in which cool is exchanged for attention.

Stage 2. Exchange attention for advertising. The second necessary exchange for cool laundering, the second economic exchange necessary for websites like Pitchfork to exist, is to trade attention of readers for money from advertisers. If I read everyday, Pitchfork has one more reader, and that’s what advertisers care about, how much attention people give to a website. This crowd attention is traded for advertising money. As Bazan would say, “you make a living, selling advertising”.

The complete trade is cool to attention to cash, with Pitchfork acting the part of the East India Company.
(When you are powerful enough, you can cut out the middleman, such as when acts like Daft Punk make money by soundtracking fashion shows, but that’s rare.)

There other forms of economic exchange too (e.g. product placement for Apple Music, Converse & Beats) but the main question is whether this trading view that I take is consistent with review anomalies on Pitchfork.

I want to suggest that bad reviews are routinely given for anything challenging this trading system. Example: the new album by Refused was given a lukewarm review (mind you, Pitchfork didn’t even seem to review The Shape Of Punk To Come when it came out). Why? It doesn’t stack up to the album, which was quite fun and fresh, and highly rated elsewhere. Nonetheless, the album could be offensive to the fashion industry in Paris (“Genocide was Paris’ will”, the reference to the corporate system in “nothing has changed”) and offensive to the advertising industry generally. Better pan it!

In the time of the zine, people made things out of love. Pitchfork makes things with money, and now someone has recognized the cash cow that is Pitchfork. Caveat emptor.