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China Crisis Play 'Arizona Sky' | China Crisis

Article from Making Music, January 1987

China Crisis get keyboardistic. Brian McNeill shows some chords.

'Arizona Sky' was the first single to be released from the China Crisis LP "What Price Paradise?". Brian McNeill has been with the group for about a year. To celebrate these two events, we thought it would be a good idea to get Brian to show you how he plays the keyboard parts on the record.

"I mainly used my Yamaha TX816 on it," Brian explained, "played from a DX7. The TX is the eight-DX7s-in-a-box job, and I think it's a great machine. I love the way you can put the eight modules across the tracks in the studio for some really big and unusual sounds."

Any other keyboards on 'Arizona Sky', we wondered? "Mainly the TX," said Brian, "but there's a bit of grand piano, a Bosendorfer, and in the second half of the chorus some Emulator voices come in."

So, thinking caps on, and out with your little exercise keyboards. "I hope this is vaguely interesting to you," Brian said. "The single didn't make it but it was played a lot on the radio, so most people should have heard it." A pause. "Most people should have bought it." Better luck with 'Best Kept Secret', chaps.




"This uses a pattern that you bounce between two notes: D with a high F, Eb and high F, twice around; G and high F; Ab and high F; F and high F; and lastly Bb and octave Bb. The pattern's the same for each pair of notes, and there are eight notes in the pattern; the lower note of each pair you hit on beats 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8; the high note on beats 3, 5 and 7. Listen to the record and see how it goes, then try it yourself."


Dm/Eb/Dm/Eb* ("I'm not sure what it's called")/Gmin9/Ab9/Fm7sus4 ("a terrible chord"); Bb9.

"The band comes in with some power chords with the sequencer still running — the chords are more or less the same all the way through the intro and the verse, but I hit them in different ways, which you can hear on the record — usually a jabbed, staccato style, two jabs on each chord. All the ninth chords resolve on the second beat, too — in other words, they change from the ninth back to the basic major or minor. On the last verse I play a nice little syncopation against the sequence, but I've drawn out simple chords here to get you going."


Bb, F, Bb, F, Eb, Bb, F, Gm, Eb and F (the last two in one bar).

"I've written the full spread of the chords here — two notes on the left-hand and a triad in the right for each — which you'll need to get the proper effect. There's a melody that goes over the top of the chorus: five notes (marked on the 'Chorus melody' drawing) that I've called 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. These are played: 3, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1/3, 2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3. Once again, listen to the record to get the timing. The chords are layered up on the record to get the right thickness of sound, using the eight modules of the TX816 on different recording tracks."


Bb, Eb, Bb for a bar each, then Gm/Ab/Bb in the last bar.

"That goes round twice, I've shown you simple versions here, again, to get you going. Try adding in extra notes to thicken the bass and fill it out."

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Jan 1987

Feature by Brian MacNeil

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