Dark Side of The Moon: Pink Floyd’s Creative Musical Experimentation

by admin on November 26, 2012

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It has been said that the Dark Side of The Moon album by Pink Floyd syncs perfectly with The Wizard of Oz, that it was the product of a rather lengthy acid trip, and even that it was even based off of The Sound of Music. None of the conspiracies regarding the album can properly live up to the monumental inspiration that Dark Side of The Moon has bestowed upon those who listen.  Dark Side of The Moon successfully incorporated synthesized instruments and vocals into the music as well as odd and unheralded noises like clocks and wailing women (1).  By paying notice to the recording techniques that lay within the album, it becomes easier to understand what effect Pink Floyd was trying to achieve.  To borrow a word used to describe John Cage’s music, the outside and unexpected sounds “interpenetrate” the record; throughout the music, the small background sounds stand out and shape the album.

Like most great albums, Dark Side of The Moon was built from a heap of ideas and careful musical experimentation.  The band was in a state of disarray because their good friend and former front man, Syd Barrett had just left the band due to medical concerns.  After this setback, the band became more experimental and changed its opinions and thoughts on the production of music(2).  Through the testing of different ideas in the studio, the band grew fond of certain sounds and from this they knew what would and what would not flow well with the rest of the album.  Lead singer Roger Waters thought it would be good to have random recordings of people responding to violence, death, and war, and to lace the responses throughout the album.  These “voices” are present in the tracks of the album that become progressively more violent and reiterates the themes of the music without the band actually having to sing or say them.  This method invites the listener to infer what he/she may feel about the song(s) (3).  In this way, Dark Side of The Moon’s reliance on the listener’s imagination is reminiscent of John Cage’s 4’33” or Brian Eno’s Music For Airports.  The listener is able to freely analyze what the music means to him/her (4).

Although Dark Side of The Moon is made up of ten different tracks that flow right into one another, track number seven on the record, “Us and Them,” deviates significantly from to the other nine songs.  It is slow and delicate and filled with beautiful creative techniques.  Like the other songs, recorded voices are found in this song; however, there is only one voice excerpt.  The clip is found near the end of the song: “I meant they’re not gonna kill ya, so if you give em’ a quick short, sharp, shock, they won’t do it again.  Dig it?  I mean he get off lightly, ’cause I would’ve given him a thrashing-I only hit him once!  It was only a difference of opinion, but really…I mean good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh?”

As it happens, this specific recording was of a roadie for the band who spoke of an encounter that had ended in him claiming the life of another person (5). It is almost as if the roadie is expecting some kind of praise for killing the man “short and softly.”  The sick irony is that regardless of how sugar-coated it is, the fact of the matter is that the roadie killed someone.  “Us and Them” thus becomes track that really questions—as Roger Waters put it— “whether or not the human race is capable of being humane” (Waters, 1).  “Interpenetration” onDark Side of the Moon provides a rich sense of what was going on in the band’s lives and in the environs at the time of the recording, ultimately making it more meaningful for the listener; one may actually be able to feel what the band felt while creating their music while at the same time feeling free to apply it to one’s own personal environment.

by Lillian Lovingood

References

1.  Pink Floyd: The Making of The Dark Side of The Moon. Dir. Matthew Longfellow. Perf. Pink Floyd. Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2003. DVD.

2.”Syd Barrett | The Official Website of Syd Barrett, the Original Front Man and Songwriter for Pink Floyd.” Syd Barrett | The Official Website of Syd Barrett, the Original Front Man and Songwriter for Pink Floyd. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <http://www.sydbarrett.com/>.

3.  “Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon Article – Classic Rock March 2003.” Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon Article – Classic Rock March 2003. Natalie Lyons, Mar. 2003. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. <http://www.pinkfloydz.com/artclasrckdsotmmar03.htm>.

4.  Senae, Demau. “Pink Floyd – Us And Them.” SongMeanings. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. <http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/2812/>.

5.  Quercia, Jacopa D. “5 Absurd (But Mind Blowing) Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories.” Cracked.com. N.p., 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <http://www.cracked.com/article_18747_5-absurd-but-mind-blowing-pop-culture-conspiracy-theories_p2.html>.

Ayla Harvey November 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I thought this article was incredibly fascinating. Your writing style is professional, and the topic grabbed me because I actually lined up Darl Side Of The Moon with the Wizard of Oz; it turned out being strange to hear and see. I also found the interpenetration facts to be a great addition. I’ve heard the record, and it completely didn’t click with me. Good job!

Erik Rubino November 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Interesting article referencing interpenetration, I personally wouldn’t have tied John Cage to Pink Floyd, but I think your points are great. I wonder though how Cage would feel about the use of interpenetration with obvious intent of making music. Interesting article that’s for sure!

Zach November 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Wow! The way you go into so much detail about certain songs really made me question the album that I have listened to countless of times. I never would have thought that one of the roadies killed someone and they put his story in the album! I also liked how you compared Pink Floyd to John Cage, which makes this topic related to the class in a very strong way. Overall, I thought this article was very well written and informative. Now I’m going to go watch the Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon!

Tyler Price November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I very much enjoyed reading this article. It was well written, and it is a very interesting and controversial topic. I love John Cage in his works so I really liked that you incorporated his ideas into the article. I can tell all of the information was well researched and it was incorporated into the article rather well. Great work on this!

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