Aug 032015

The back cover of Heldon IV, a reissue of an obscure French album I picked up a couple of months ago, features a musical diagram on the back cover, showing, I guess, how the tape decks were connected to enable the Frippertronics-like effects at the core of the album. I am terrible at reading diagrams (as is also the case with maps, IKEA instructions, etc), but I’m fascinated by them. As someone who often listens to music and tries to figure out the “way in” on the sounds an artist is producing, the rare diagrams (or are they called schematics?) that I come across offer what would seem to be easy access to tricks of the trade…provided I could ever make sense of a diagram, schematic, or map.

I sense this Heldon album is not the only one featuring a diagram or schematic on the cover. Can you cite more than even 3 other examples of this phenomenon?



  14 Responses to “Last Man Standing: Album Covers With Musical Diagrams”

  1. tonyola

    Patrick Moraz – The Story of i. Moraz goes into great detail about the construction and meaning of the music in the inner sleeve. As for listening, proceed at your own risk. Even this committed prog-head finds this album tough sledding.

  2. There’s a whole mess of Anthony Braxton albums that would seem to fit the bill. Here’s one:

  3. saturnismine

    Hey man..who said anything about the nude cover thread being over? Not me…I’m just catchin’ my breath.

  4. saturnismine

    Nice. I have a book about Braxton that explains how he intended some of his little ideograms to serve as direction for the people he was playing with. They were to react to them however they wanted.

  5. Braxton was on my shortlist. Although I don’t read music, one of his album covers promised something so revolutionary that I had to buy it. The music ended up more confusing than the image of bending, twisting sheet music.

  6. ladymisskirroyale

    This might be too straightforward:

    The lyrics list includes information about the musical key, parts to repeat, instrumentation, repetition of verses, changes to lyrics, etc.

  7. I don’t have my albums handy, and this has been bugging me: did Fripp ever provide a schematic for his Frippertronics rig on the back of an album cover? I keep thinking it may have been on the backside of Let the Power Fall. If you can confirm, I am Last Man Standing!

  8. No confirmation yet, as I search the web, but I love stumbling across pages like this:

  9. tonyola

    As far as I can determine, there is no schematic of the Frippertronics rig, just a picture of Fripp in front of a tape recorder.

  10. saturnismine

    Mod, I know what you’re talking about. I don’t remember where I saw this diagram, but my recollection is that it was while an album was nearby. Perhaps it was an insert?

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