The recent 50th Anniversary of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ triggered me to compile a series of posts on this terrific 50-year old timeless album by…. because I grew up with this album, and I hope you did as well.

This episode we provide you with some more background info about the ‘On the run’ sequence – including details to produce your own track!

On the Run

Just an 8-note sequence on the ‘highly innovating’ EMS sequencer with noises added to it.

This piece was created by entering an 8-note sequence into a Synthi A synthesiser made by the British synthesiser manufacturer EMS and speeding it up, with an added white noise generator creating the hi-hat sound. The band then added backwards guitar parts, created by dragging a microphone stand down the fretboard, reversing the tape, and panning left to right. There are also other Synthi and VCS 3 synthesizer parts, made to sound like a vehicle passing, giving a Doppler effect. The 8 note sequence is played at a tempo of 165 BPM, while both filter frequency and resonance are modulated. Near the end, the only guitar part is heard: a chord over the explosion of the presumed aircraft. This gradually fades, segueing into the chiming clocks introduction of the following “Time”.

David Gilmour – ‘We had originally go an “On the Run,” a different thing, which is on a live one if you’ve heard one of those bootlegs, you might have heard a different version of it than is on Dark Side of the Moon. We had a sort of guitar passage, but it wasn’t very good. We’d just got this new synthesizer, a briefcase model EMS-1 [Synthi AKS], and in the lid there was a little sequencer thing. I was playing with the sequencer device attachment, and came up with this sound, which is the basic sound of it. Roger sort of heard it, came over and started playing with it, too. Then he actually put in the notes that we made…it was his sequence, that “de-di-doo-de-di-dil”- -whatever it was. He made that little sequence up, but I had got the actual original sound and I actually was the one doing the controlling on the take that we used. Then we chucked all sorts of things over the top of it afterwards.’

When The Dark Side of the Moon was performed in 1972 (before the album was released), it went under the title “The Travel Sequence” and was a more simple guitar jam, without synthesisers and other electronic instruments. A short clip of this is on the DVD Classic Albums: Pink Floyd – The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon and can be heard on all performances of Pink Floyd playing the album in that year.

Alan Parsons – “Everything you hear on that track, apart from the sound effects, was done live. It was all coming out of the Synthi A. Even the hi-hat over the top of it was done on that synth. There was no means of synchronising any two performances – that’s why it was live. Even on the road, before a show, they would have to punch in the notes of the sequence manually, very slowly, then speed it up on playback to give the fast, sequenced effect you hear on the record.’

The Notes

The only 8 notes in this sequence are:  E4 E3 G3 B3 A3 G3 A3 B3

The Patch

If you own a synthi (like) synth, you will approach the On-the-Run sound with the following patch

On a non-existing synth

An interesting remake of the sequence on a Synthi look-a-like, we think this is a rendered (virtual reality) video, don’t you think so?

And for software synthesists…