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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Who "Eminence Front" Isolated Keys

Pete Townshend studio image
Note the VCS3 synth on top of the organ
Here's a piece from a song that you've probably been hearing on television commercials a lot lately. It's the isolated keys from The Who's "Eminence Front" from their It's Hard album (the last with drummer Kenny Jones and bassist John Entwistle).

The keys are pretty buried in the song (although the sequenced synth carries it), so it's pretty interesting to hear just how intricate they are.

1. Listen to how the sequenced synth constantly changes throughout the song in both feel and timbre. This was supplied by Townshend's favorite: the EMS VCS3 (see the picture on the left). Unlike the way most sequencers are used in the studio, Pete Townshend's approach was totally unique in that a sequence never seems to repeat and it carries the rhythm of the song.

2. Likewise, the keys (electric piano and organ) also change with the different sections of the song. They're pretty loose parts in that you'll hear some mistakes (like the second verse around the 2 minute mark) here that you won't hear on the final mix.

3. The song is built around a primitive rhythm machine with is very apparent at the very beginning of the song, but fades into the keyboard mix to where you only hear the kick sound.


senormedia said...

There is a lot going on in there that I have never bothered to notice.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I've heard this song hundreds of times and (like many other Who songs) loved the synth parts. I never noticed how nuanced and varied they were until now. Pete Townshend is a genius. Great model for any of us programing our own synth parts - keep it varied and interesting; don't just repeat the same parts over and over. Thanks for posting!


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