BAD RELATIONS : plunderography1, pop and weird in DAB

The source for DAB is entirely the Jackson/Jones/Swedien pop song 'Bad' 2. The transformations come from a limited pallet, which excludes timbral signal processing (filtering, modulation, supplementary synthesis, etc.) pitch shifting, delay reverberation and add-on musicianship. What is left is location in time. Fractional portions of the original music, varying in duration from about 25 milliseconds to phonemes and sonemes, to phrase fragments, have been superimposed and rejuxtaposed.
DAB has 3 specified sections, without pauses. The first, titled Revised, is preceded by an introduction, which is mirrored in the coda to the 3rd section. This introduction is a looping reiteration of the words "whose bad" spoken by Michael Jackson, with an increasingly opened envelope applied to each repetition, expanding from an onset-pass only click to the entire phrase, with a loop frequency of 124 bpm, the average tempo of the song (+ or - 1bpm). A re-ordered solo iteration of the bass line is superimposed as "bad" comes into focus, initiating the section proper. The original melody as such is never stated. Two techniques of bass line permutation : analog tape splice razor-edit, and computer-conducted sampling of each original note (again, not pitch-shifted), were created for this section but the latter was not used. Tempo discrepencies between the "bad" pulse and the bass line pulse result from the completely autonomous application of the 2 voices, which were then flown into the mix. This lack of synchronization was intentional, reflecting the prime thesis for DAB, of relationary intent: that rhythms be mechanically imprecise (unlike drum machines, sequencers and such quantizing devices) and independent within the scale of rhythmic nuance (unlike musicians playing together). This is in part a reflection on the illusory interplay of multitracked musicians (in which the succession of recorded parts entails a basic unawareness among the bedtrack musicians and machines of the performance character of subsequent overdubs; this deafness decreases in later tracking where the monitoring musician can respond to the oblivious monologues of the bedtracks: the hierarchy is usually drums/bass <- rhythm instruments <- vocals <- solo instruments.) By time slipping tracks, relationships have been chosen which simulate rhythmic interplay and nuance.
The structure for section 1 is a casual intial foray into the relocation of materials. Song similarity is maintained and portions transposed usually retain their relative position in phrase structure (eg. "your butt is love"). Compact disc reiterations (not true CD tracking failure skips but manually controlled in a player's search mode) are introduced in the 2nd verse. A vowel composite field (uh \ eye \ eh \ oh \ ah \ ha \ ow \ ee) is overlayed leading up to the first appearance of the bridge: "and the whole world whew has to answer right whew just to tell you once a whew gain, whose ...".
The bridge is a pulse (186bpm) sample scan with a 70 millisecond pan. The pulse onset is varied manually from the beginning to the end of the phrase. The sample length is 15% greater than the periodicity. The phrase is stretched over time, from 4 seconds to 26 seconds, with the pulse scan maintaining reference to the tempo.
Follows a reprise of the razor-edit bass line, this time with greater rhythmic variance overlayed with envelope scans, forward and back, of the "bad" motif. A short bass pulse bridge leads to section 2, Improvised, which is introduced by a double-speed, normal-pitch iteration of the phrase "just wait 'til I get thru 'cause I'm...", razor-edited. (This technique affords a greater degree of selectivity than using a digital speed scan. Edits are sculpted to the phonemic structure rather than being impose by a grid.) The body of this section is a selection from a CD player search improvisation. The CD player search mode allows one to skim through material by auditioning 150 millisecond fragments, skipping about 1 second of material between each. Selective advance was accomplished by rocking the cue and rewind controls manually. A selection was taken from an hour's improvising. The search begins with localized iteration which by the end travels more expansively back and forth through the source. Some passages are doubletracked. To this material is interpolated a razor edit compilation of the various inflections of the song's "bad", and some tracks rarified from section 3.
Leading up to the repeat of the first bridge, fading up into the mix is a random permutative ordering of the four synth/horn chords from the original's introduction. Scans of several of the elements lead to the bridge.
"They say the sky's the limit, and to me that's really true, but my friend you have seen nothing". The original beat has been eliminated (razor edit). Again the phrase is pulse-sample scanned. The big "whose bad" which introduces the 3rd section, Homogenized, was created by superimposing several pulse scans with differing periodicities in low resolution synch3. The half second sample has been stretched to 20 seconds, with a smoother texture than the bridges. Following is a rhythmically featureless mix in which most of the harmonic and timbral content of the original is constantly present. Many (up to 10,000) simultaneous loops with a periodicity of double tempo or triplet, sampled from throughout the track are progressively introduced and abandoned through crossfading. Occasionally a thinner grouping with some rhythmic texture is brought to the surface of the mix. A thicker version of the vowel composite field, originally heard in section 1, comes into audibility in the latter 3rd as a single sung tone. Finally one sample, the bass pulse (as heard in the bridge to section 2), dominates and becomes legible as staggered layers of it are removed. A steeper envelope, decreasing with each repetition, is applied to the final layer, reversing the initial opening up of "bad".
These various routines were all deposited on an analog multitrack with a configuration of 3 stereo tracks and 2 mono. A 6th track, an isolation and recreation of the panning blip which is found throughout the song, was eliminated from advanced mixes.
As mentioned previously, all routines were created independently and flown into the mix. A few routines were fabricated specifically for a particular location but were nonetheless realized seperately, according to general time schemes, with tempo variations resolved to about a bpm.
Mixing was accomplished, with no EQ or automation, in sectional portions to analog 2-track and edited together. This pre-master was transfered with level adjustments to various digital formats.
DAB varies between a general similarity to its source material and abstraction. It also mediates between pop/rock predictability, the rhythmic idiosyncracy available to improvisers, and the timbral meditations found in the electroacoustic genre. Totally mechanical routines have been applied to the realizations of musicians who have the studio time to seek perfection. Perfection has been messed with by improvisation. Very popular music meets its extremities.

1 plunderphonics is a term coined to counter the covert world of converted sound and retrofitted music. A plunderphone is an unofficial but generally recognizable audio electroquote. These blatant borrowings of the privateers of macrosampling are a class distinct from common parroting, samplepocketing, and tune thievery. Plunderphonography identifies the lexicon.
see also: 'plunderphonics or, audio piracy as a compositional prerogative', Musicworks #34.

2 Epic EK 40600 DIDP 70643, in various formats. Instrumentation as credited is : Michael Jackson solo & background vocals, vocal & rhythm arrangements, song; How Now Brown Cow percussion; Jimmy Smith Hammond B3 Midi organ solo; Greg Phillinganes synthesizer solo [follows organ solo in kind] John Robinson drums; Douglas Getschal drum programming; David Williams guitar; Kim Hutchcroft, Larry Williams saxophones; Gary Grant, Jerry Hey trumpets; Paulinho da Costa percussion; Christopher Currell Synclavier keyboards, digital guitar, rubba, rhythm arr.; John Barnes, Michael Boddicker synthesizers; Jerry Hey horn arrangement; Quincy Jones production, rhythm arrangement Bruce Swedien, recording (using the "Acusonic Recording Process D" Seth Riggs vocal consultant.
3 A version of this was scanned at the digital audio studio at Princeton, but after hearing the results over the telephone the present technique was arrived at at Mystery Lab to emulate and improve upon the effect.