A very good way to find out where House (and often Techno) comes from, is to slow it down radically and hear what happens. It almost always works, and if you’re a fan of slower grooves like myself, it’s a constant source of entertainment. The very first time I did this was back in the 80s, live at Radio Città Futura in Rome, where I played (repeatedly, for weeks) the 45 rpm, 12 inch single Private Dancer by Tina Turner at 33 rpm, inventing a new singer, very similar to Barry White. In that case, it was slowed down a whole octave – a pretty radical change.
A subtler approach is to use the speed adjustment of a turntable: very immediate, and sonically very interesting, because you’re both slowing the tempo and lowering the pitch. Which is the best way to go, if you ask me: the “physical” slowing down of a tune boosts the bass frequencies, giving more oomph to the whole rhythm section. Digital tempo change (time stretch that retains the song’s pitch) you miss all that: perhaps it’s useful in live situations, but it’s not what I’m after. If you don’t have speed adjustment available, you can use a software sampler: assign a whole song file to the middle C note, and see what happens if you play the lower G (or, in other cases, the lower C, which is one octave below and precisely twice the lenght). It doesn’t sound as good (because you are actually lowering the sampling frequency), but it does the trick.
So, this is what I did. I took A Far L’Amore by Raffaella Carrà, remixed by Bob Sinclar (which I really like, despite its ugliness), removed all the offending parts (that is all the vocals: the blaring, two dimensional italian verse, the insanely corny chorus and a painful hook) and slowed it by 25%, or three musical semitones: from its original 128bpm riviera beat, to a cool 103.
For some obscure reason, the result immediately sounded like Naples to me. So I dropped in one of the most iconic neapolitan songs of the post war era, Tammurriata Nera (as sung by the Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare). The very first time I’ve performed my music on television (and one of the last – tv and I have had a difficult relationship), back in 1991, I played a tune consisting of the Peter Gunn Theme (by Henry Mancini), mashed up with the Tammurriata Nera. I’m glad I got to use it again.
Hats down to whoever programmed this beat: at 128 bpm it’s annoying, but you can slow it down to death and still dance to it. And my respect to the NCCP and its member Carlo D’Angiò, who recently passed.
If you’re a Dj and you want a HQ file, email me and I’ll send it to you.
Amsterdam, september 2016
(you can find more Sensual Musicology here)