Jean-Michel Jarre's Magnetic Fields II
An Electro-Music Transcription by Mike Beecher | Jean-Michel Jarre
A fully-detailed transcript of Magnetic Fields Part II including instructions on how to perform the piece.
This exciting composition was first recorded by Jean-Michel Jarre on his 'Magnetic Fields' album and has since been performed live on 'The Concerts in China' album (see last month's full feature and review). The transcription given here is a virtual note-for-note copy of the original studio recording on Magnetic Fields (Track 1, Side 2) and presents all the information necessary to analyse the piece and have a go at the music. Because electro-music contains much more than just mere musical notation, the important effects and stereo positioning are also given and the 'score' is divided into four staves of clarity. Do not be put off by this! It is still relatively straightforward to play and a passable performance can be done by learning to play the Bass Sequence (left hand) and the Polysynth (right hand) staves as ordinary keyboard music.
The Drum Machine stave provides the exact rhythmic programming for your percussion player (human or instrument) and splits the bar into 32 pulses. If your 'programmer' requires a rest between a pulse/beat to make it sound, then you'll need to have 64 events per bar. The first bar at A will be adequate for the whole piece (or something similar if you have a preset instrument) and cuts out a lot of programming time. The familiar 'Left to Right' panning of sounds used by Jean-Michel can be done using two EG/VCAs that are switched on and off by, for example, a couple of Synclocks. Alternatively, you could try experimenting with our Panolo effects unit.
The Bass Sequence line is meant to be played on an 8-note Sequencer as shown, with a key (or pedal) control voltage setting the actual rest note for each sequence (two per bar). A little license has been given on the recording to the 'change point' of a sequence, and some sequencers will only change pitch at the start of the series (e.g. Yamaha CS30).
The top stave 'Extra parts' adds the final touches and is most easily inserted as the final layer of your multitrack recording. Panning and echo effects can then be done manually as tracks are transferred or mixed down.
The chords should enable guitar or further keyboard improvisation and at section D the E&MM Digital Delay was used to add the echoed mono synth line after a quaver delay (using a single echo with plenty of reverb for depth). It's also quite convenient to record your initial drum using the MF1 Sync Unit to put down a pulse track to control an external drum machine. By this method, the real drums can be recorded with all the breaks etc. at the final stage. It is quite possible to play this piece as a solo performance with 'Extra Parts' on mono synth, one polyphonic instrument, 8-note sequence/synth for the bass (controlled by a pedalboard), plus a drum machine.
Of course, you are unlikely to create the overall ambience and character of the music without a close study of the original LP by Jean-Michel Jarre and this is highly recommended as a step towards learning the skills of today's exponents of electro-music — a fundamental requirement for any serious composer.
Reproduced by permission of Jean-Michel Jarre (C) Dreyfus Music (Paris) 1982.
Feature by Mike Beecher
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