Sep 172013

Years ago, when I was a college radio dj, some of the dance-oriented djs used to pull a mixing trick at the end of a track: while the record was playing, they would dramatically slow down the rpm and use that to seque to another song with the same or similar bpm. Or, to really make a point, they would slow the song down and just stop the record playing all together. I thought it was a pretty cool trick.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I’m stuck in traffic driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and just as the traffic starts to clear, New Order‘s “5 8 6” comes on my cd player. I had always liked New Order, but knew their singles better than their entire albums. So there I was listening to Power, Corruption and Lies, enjoying the car’s acceleration but also noticing that the 1983 track reflected the same Slow Slow Music technique that I had always associated with djs in the 90’s. (If you’re not a New Order fan, fast forward to around 7:05.)

But wait! There’s the technique again, this time as part of Joy Division‘s 1979 “Transmission.” (The technique is pretty obvious on this live version, even if John Cooper Clark talks over some of it.)

Is there a name for this Slow Slower Slowest Music technique? Were Joy Division inspired by some Kraut Rock or Kraftwerk number that I’m not aware of? Can you find other, earlier documented uses of this Slow Music fade out?

I look forward to the elucidation.


  8 Responses to “Slow Slow Music”

  1. It does seem like something that might have originated with Neu, which to me should be almost fully credited with the Joy Division/Martin Hannet sound. Or maybe it’s a disco trick? This is a good challenge for us.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    I was also wondering if the technique came from dub/reggae?

  3. I guess I could look it up on the interwebs, but what fun is that?

    Isn’t the technique called decreshendo? And with that smarty-pants sounding name, it must be back from classical music.

    I like the Dukes of Stratosphere use of it on Bike Ride to the Moon because it matches up to the image of the lyric, And a sharp sputnik has given me a cornflake flat tire.

    Hard to pull off live. How do you know at what speed to slow down. There’s no count off into a slow down you can do.

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    Ah, interesting, very interesting.

    I’m not sure if “decrescendo” is the correct term. When I used to play classical music on the piano, I think it referred to decreasing loudness. But maybe it refers to decreasing speed as well.

    Thanks for doing some sleuthing and sharing.

  5. I keep thinking that there must be an early ’70s example of someone like James Brown doing this trick on record.

  6. Of course you’re right. Even down to the proper spelling.

    I meant to write Deslowdowndo.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    Ha! Love it, a new Oxford Music Dictionary term!

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    That makes sense. I’m counting on you, Mod, and your infinite wisdom.

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