Discreet Disco

Here are two embedded videos.

They are identical.

I’ve posted them so you can play them both – simultaneously.

Have a play around with these identical videos. Experiment.

No rules, but some things to try: use the pause/play button to synchronise the videos as close as possible. To bring them closer, just delay the video that’s ahead by a quick pause and unpause. It helps if you’re aware of the difference in visuals and clock. You should get some nice “flanging” sound effects. Then if you stagger the videos again it will make various kinds of galloping rhythm.

I discovered this recently, marvelling at the looping melodies when I opened a video twice, by accident.

It’s easy to do in an age of multiple windows. Inside your computer should be a sound card capable of mixing inputs, like a DJ mixer or the mixing desk at the back of a gig. If you’re not viewing this on a computer it might be worth a try anyway. If it fails, try opening the video in a dedicated window, twice.

It reminded me of a similar thing with vinyl turntables. Years ago, I had two 12″ copies of a tune which I tried to beat juggle to repeat and extend passages – a technique popularised by Grandmaster Flash and other hip-hop pioneers. I was at home and I wanted to see how difficult it was. After 20 minutes I gave up this line of experimentation and took to playing the records simultaneously instead.

The “flange” noises are better with vinyl, not only because of sound fidelity but because the noises are more varied. With the videos the streams are locked. On vinyl, it’s possible to introduce slight variations in the playback which make rather splendid flanging and phasing sounds with proper whooshing and everything. You can also adjust the playback speed with the pitch control – to affect the effects, as it were. I guess this would also work on other DJ set-ups such as CDJs, Serato or Ableton Live.

(Pausing and unpausing the video should be instinctive to a DJ who’s accustomed to ordinary beatmatching – it’s similar to a pitch bend downwards, which you would achieve on vinyl by slowing the rotation of a turntable.)

For the spotters, it’s worth noting that this tune is part of a lineage of remixing and revision. The Source’s original version of You Got The Love came out in 1986. Then in 1989 the remixer John Truelove used Candi Staton’s vocal (essentially the acapella version of it) to create an early example of a musical mash-up. The result is a club anthem with a longevity far in excess of the mash-ups which came later. This took some ingenuity, awareness of musical key and a bit of cheek. The track he picked for the instrumental backing was Jamie Principle and Frankie Knuckes’ Your Love with the now familiar melody and bassline. The bassline of Your Love is, in turn, reappropriated from a fragment of an italo disco track, Feels Good by Electra. According to Discogs this came out in 1982. Confusingly, we also learn from Discogs that John Truelove eventually started using The Source name himself (don’t ask me how that works).

Incidentally here’s another version of Your Love, the one that started the dual play trick off for me. This tune’s nice because the twinkly melody at the beginning lasts for a while. Muso-boffins like Steve Reich and Brian Eno would approve!

I’m sure there are other tunes that would sound interesting with this treatment.  There may even be examples of pairs of tunes which are suitable for live mixing and mashing up. It would help if they were identical speeds (down to the precise beats-per-minute count). On that note proper remixing will have to wait. But I’m working on something along these lines…

3 Replies to “Discreet Disco”

Comments are closed.