Post Punk Pioneers: Joy Division

by Gabriel Leopardi

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  • Hi GMC!

    Welcome to my new series covering Post Punk style. This style is very interesting, not only because it was a very creative variation of initial punk rock, because it influenced lots of bands and genres like alternative rock, gothic rock and industrial music. Post Punk emerged from the initial punk rock explosion from the late 70’s but it was a more experimental form of punk because it incorporated elements from krautrock (synthesizers and loop concepts), dub music, american funk and studio experimentation that was mostly found in disco music.
    One of the pioneers of this style is the band that I decided to cover in this lesson: Joy Division. They were an English band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester formed by Ian Curtis (Vocals), Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums and percussion). They released two studio albums that have influenced lots of bands going from Nine Inch Nails to U2, The Cure and even Red Hot Chili Peppers who list them as one of their influences. After Ian Curtis death, the remaining members formed a new band called “New Order” with a big success during the 80’s.

    Music Style:
    Joy Division evolved their initial punk rock sound into something more experimental that included synthesizers, drum sounds influenced by dance music, use of loops and repetitions and a new approach to guitar and bass arranging that give bass lines more melodic presence in the songs. That’s why they are considered the pioneers of Post Rock in the late 70’s. In this lesson I recreated their style of repetitive simple but dark melodies and a big presence of bass creating melodies. I was inspired by their most popular songs like “She’s lost control”, “Dead Souls”, “Disorder” and “Love will tear us apart”.

    Tonality, Chord Progression & Scales:
    As their music was dark and sad sounding, they used to use mostly minor scales and tonalities to build the riffs, guitar phrases and progressions in their songs. This tune is in Em and all the melodies are around this key and created in a “modal” style, that means that it seems that the tonic is all the time present while the melodies and riffs are played giving the composition a static feeling that gives it a suspense and tension vibe.

    This is not a difficult lesson but it requires a good sense of timing because it’s built mostly by loops and counterpoints between guitar and bass. The techniques used here are down picking, strumming, alternate picking, vibrato and bending. You will also find some slides and legato just to embellish the phrases. As this band influenced many great bands with amazing guitar job like The Cure and U2, I think that this is a great lesson for those that are interested in the roots of pop, alternative, industrial and gothic guitar works. I think those GMCers who love bands like Katatonia and Paradise Lost and also those who are into Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson will get a lot from this one. In order words, the arrangement’s criteria and ideas is the strong point on this one.

    I used LePou plugins to create the guitar tone. These are free amp emulators that are extremely recommend. The cabinet used for this guitar tone is Poulin HyBrit which is a Marshall Emulation. Here you can check the setting that I used:

    Click HERE to download the patch used.

    Tuning: Standard 440

    Tempo: 160 BPM

    Ok friends! I hope that you enjoy this first Post Punk lesson!

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