Europe 72 tunes pitch changed

When it doesn't fit anywhere else

Europe 72 tunes pitch changed

Postby ronster » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:54 pm

I made news year resolution to practice guitar while playing with the actual song. It's a pain in the assholes with a CD so I went and down loaded a mp3 of every song I play so now when I get bored at work instead of just pickin up my guitar and playing I throw on the mp3. Very helpful. The first tunes I play are He's gone and Brown eyed woman from europe 72. They are both in the key of F even though all the tabs are in E. So I go onto the archive and check on shows from europ 72 and the dead are playing these songs in E. So why did they speed these tunes up by a 1/2 step for the album? Is the entire album a 1/2 step fast or did they think some of the tunes sounded better (jerry's voice?) at that pitch. So I can't listen to europe 72 anymore because it is to annoying. I believe they did the same thing on a bootleg album I have from a 70 felt forum show. What the hell, were they on drugs or something??
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Postby old man down » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:36 am

Hi ronster,

If you have a Korg CA-30, just calibrate up to A = 452 Hz and you'll be in tune with the CD.

Yes, it does appear that the entire album is slightly sharped, but not all the way to F.

Noticed this a couple of years ago by holding up my Korg CA-30 to the stereo speakers and got the green light center a full 12 Hz higher. Once I tuned up to this all the cool leads finally started to sound right.

The only reason I can think of for this sharping was that they were on the road, maybe the piano was found to be sharped, and they decided to sharpen everything to the piano than retune it on the fly.

This sharpening has a LOT to do with why the entire album is so airy sounding.
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Postby Panda Licker » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:41 am

I never thought that the album itself was sped up

I just sort of figured that the keyboard at the venue was sharp, so they tuned to that, as it would be a hell of a lot easier than retuning the entire keyboard
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Postby bucketorain » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:05 am

old man down wrote:Hi ronster,

If you have a Korg CA-30, just calibrate up to A = 452 Hz and you'll be in tune with the CD.

Yes, it does appear that the entire album is slightly sharped, but not all the way to F.

Noticed this a couple of years ago by holding up my Korg CA-30 to the stereo speakers and got the green light center a full 12 Hz higher. Once I tuned up to this all the cool leads finally started to sound right.

The only reason I can think of for this sharping was that they were on the road, maybe the piano was found to be sharped, and they decided to sharpen everything to the piano than retune it on the fly.

This sharpening has a LOT to do with why the entire album is so airy sounding.


that's a great tip...i can't wait to try it...that is what bummed me out about Europe 72 was the pitch and i couldn't figure out how to tune my guitar so it was, well, in tune...
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Postby FretfulDave » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:10 am

I think it is very possible the tracks on the album may have been sped up. We need to keep in mind that this was originally put out on vinyl records which like other media, have a maximum amount of music that can fit on it. The big difference in vinyl over say a CD is that if you sacrifice fidelity, you can cut the grooves in the plastic thinner and fit more music on the same physical space or, something that was commonly done in the 70s, you can speed up some or all of the tracks to fit more music on the piece of vinyl. I don't know if the Dead sped up the tracks or not. You would think that if the master tapes were recorded wtih instruments tuned to A440, then a CD made from them would be at the appropriate speed. This may not be the case, but for certain, songs were sped up to fit more music on a vinyl disc back in the day. It is not a coincidence that the most popular and technically developed mylar cassette tapes were 45 minutes in duration. That equated to a little more that the average amount of music that could be put on a vinyl disc at good fidelity.

That said, another option for playback is instead of re-tuning your instrument, use a player that can vary the playback speeds. This is a technique I used to play along with the old Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall album from 1969. This album exhibit the same issues you are talking about, however, I would be *really* hard pressed to believe that the horns were tuned up a half step in one piece and pretty close to normal in another and then a little off again on another. I think the record company dinked with the speeds to fit the songs on the almighty vinyl. I changed the playback speed on a mini-disc player that had the capability. I just checked the GNU player, Audacity, and it has the ability to playback and change the speed. Just another option and you might be able to save the adjusted speed characteristic for the song with some of the players and not have to worry about it again.

Ah, dealing the good old days... wonderful stuff.

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Postby ronster » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:29 am

I found it easier to DL a version of the songs in the correct pitch then to change my guitar tuning everytime I played along with europe 72. I don't think the band tuned up to a piano that was out of pitch as the tunes I mentioned were recorded a month a part. I checked other versions of the songs from the same tour and they are all in the right pitch. Hard to believe that someone would tune a piano 1/2 note to high and then have the whole band retune to be out of pitch for a few select nights of the tour and then put those songs on your album. Tuning forks are used to tune pianos and every musician had one back then. More likely that they could not find someone with perfect pitch to tune a piano as in Eygpt so they played a piano that was out of tune as opposed to being in tune but out of pitch. Most likely some recording exec thought they would sell better with the higher voices either that or Jerry was trying to land a role on the Partridge family.
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Postby Tennessee Jedi » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:38 am

If Europe 72 was recorded to tape,maybe the pitch change is due to that.
Doesnt that change the pitch 'cause the tape stretches and tightens as it plays?
Hmmmmmmm? :cool:
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Postby old man down » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:49 am

I'm kinda liking the "speed up the reels to get the music to fit on vinyl" idea.

Remember, it was a 3 record album, which the only comparison, I think, would have been "Tommy" or "Jesus Christ Superstar."

They go to the studio and can't get things to fit, so they try the sharp idea and it works.

I know for a fact, from learning the songs, that the following are sharped:

Cumberland Blues
Jack Straw
China Cat/Sunflower
Truckin'/Epilogue

These record sides are all mostly extended jam sides...so really like the get it to fit on vinyl notion.
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Postby pappypgh » Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:40 am

I always was under the impression that they were sped up because they sounded tighter. PLUS (and I know this to be true), most of the vocals on Europe '72 were recorded in the studio, post-production. I would imagine that they sang it in A440, then after everything was laid down, it was all sped up. The "fitting on vinyl" theory is a good one, though - that very well may be so. I always used to get frustrated trying to play along w/ that album. THEN what became even MORE frustrating is playing with people who actually play those songs 1/2 step sharper than normal!! "Hey, let's play 'He's Gone'" and then the person starts playing in F. I would argue till I was blue in the face that there is NO way that song was written in F, eventhough the music book 'experts' transcribed it that way. Same with "Brown Eyed Women". I think, though that "Cumberland Blues" is in G on the "Europe '72" Album, which is the correct key...I just think it's a very fast-paced version. I could be wrong, tho!
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Postby GratefulPat » Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:44 pm

europe 72 is tuned up because the voices are overdubbed higher,so it all matches up when the key is switched.. i believe
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Postby BlobWeird » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:40 pm

Its not a half step up thats for sure. Its like somewhere in between like a quarter step. Which sucks cuz if it was a half step then you could just treat a song in the original key of D as a song in Eb but no its gotta be right in between there lol. I mean yeah all ya gotta do is tune up your low E to Jer's low E then tune off that string but I mean who wants to do that every time. Thats why E72 is unjammable for me. But theres plenty out there. Oh if you wanna test to see if it was played out of key or whether it was mixed out of key check out 5-26-72. Alot of the songs on E72 came from that show including Ramble and Dew
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Postby GratefulPat » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:06 pm

i have so many shows on my ipod that are waaaay out of tune, mostly early 71 through summer 71, and like alot of 76... its very irritating
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Postby strumminsix » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:52 pm

I'm curious of when the pitch was off:
- the band that night
- the recording device
- the tapes
- the playback device
- overdubbing in the studio
- final mastering

It's really most likely it was done after the overdubbing due to keys being overdubbed on E72. Can't see detuning a piano to match the source.

But I'm speaking only theoretically and have no real knowledge.
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Postby I'm on the Bozo Bus » Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:00 am

Just a thought, not based on any fact...

Is it possible that power conditions at various shows that compiled E72 were different. Again, not based on anything I've read about. Europe "Voltage" is 220-240 VAC. I'm sure they some sort of converter to drop everything to 110-120 VAC. I don't know if the technology of the day would have been clean enough to supply a steady 115VAC (As an example).. so.... If tape machines (Of the day) were receiving 120VAC, would that "Speed" up the tape motors?
Albeit random.... Just a thought...
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Postby Panda Licker » Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:11 am

I'm on the Bozo Bus wrote:Just a thought, not based on any fact...

Is it possible that power conditions at various shows that compiled E72 were different. Again, not based on anything I've read about. Europe "Voltage" is 220-240 VAC. I'm sure they some sort of converter to drop everything to 110-120 VAC. I don't know if the technology of the day would have been clean enough to supply a steady 115VAC (As an example).. so.... If tape machines (Of the day) were receiving 120VAC, would that "Speed" up the tape motors?
Albeit random.... Just a thought...
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if anything, wouldnt it slow them down? so that when they're played at normal speed, the tape would then be "sped up" in tempo and pitch

if they ran too fast, then when played slower, it would actually seem flat instead of sharp
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