too much typing—since 2003



From the Department of We Have the Technology (Or Should I Say, It Has Us):

What happens when an encoding error causes the DAT player to play that cheesy keyboard bit from Van Halen's "Jump" about 2/3 of a step too sharp...and the band doesn't realize until it's too late?

Here's what:

As RW370 points out, the pitch difference is readily accounted for by the difference between two common sampling rates...but that difference isn't correctable by transposing, because it puts the notes between the frets. Had someone noticed the pitch difference on time (during the intro, say...and please tell me that isn't an enormous US flag being waved...), presumably the guitar and bass could have been retuned up to the right pitch. But that's not really a likely thing to spot.

Anyway, although the video really is pretty funny to hear, it certainly isn't the band's fault that they're out of tune. I think the best option would have been to stop the DAT and just play the song without it: surely Eddie Van Halen knows how to play that riff (or a close approximation) on guitar. I mean, I'm pretty sure I could figure it out within a couple of minutes...and Mr. Van Halen is certainly a more accomplished musician than I am. (We shall draw a veil across the question of taste, however.) And I do give the band credit for at least trying to continue and put on a good show - a bad band, or an unprofessional one, might have just tossed their instruments to the ground in disgust.

The whole thing, though, is an example of why I hate it when bands use recordings in concert. It's not a recording (or rather, it shouldn't be): rearrange the song to something you can play onstage, or hire extra musicians to play the parts (and don't hide them offstage either). It's one thing if your whole thing is triggering samples: I don't think anyone would care if Aphex Twin is essentially pressing a sequence of buttons on his laptop. But if you're pretending to an old-school, physically-playing-the-instruments show, leave the prerecorded crap out of it.

But the real question is: Dave, are you kidding with that giant inflatable microphone? That's a sort of Spinal Tap in reverse moment: "No, you idiot: the microphone's supposed to be eight inches - not eight feet!"


yellojkt said...

I wouldn't say "funny" as much as "painful". I saw Sting in concert years ago when he had one of the original iMacs on stage on its own podium. Every now and then a tech would come up and start a new loop.

It's all how honest you are about the music.

2fs said...

I'm not sure "honesty" is the most relevant aspect: it's not as if anyone couldn't see that none of the four people onstage were playing a keyboard. (Unlike your Milli Vanilli scenario, where someone's definitely pretending to do something they're not.) Even though it's blatantly a recording, I just don't like the way that crosses certain lines: essentially, the audience isn't playing money to hear your CD played in an arena, and the more prerecorded stuff there is, the more the concert begins to seem like just that.